Interview with Anna Buckner

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?

I'm an artist from North Carolina, currently living in Bloomington, Indiana. 

My work explores vulnerability through materials. Soft, it exists somewhere in between piecework and painting. I use fabrics that have an accumulated history – materials that are not straight off the shelf or direct from a factory, but that have been cared for, worn, and left behind. There is softness in the attempt to revitalize meaning within this material. I select stretchy fabrics that have a high potential for change when pulled over a support. The elasticity of the materials such as spandex and knits reference skin, and pulling these fabrics over a support causes them to swell like the body.

I piece the fabric scraps together forming a quilt top that is then stretched on a support. The initial design of the piecework is compromised through stretching, causing the material to warp. Therefore, the support of the painting is a tool for transformation, revealing the potential of these materials, and pushing them into a role for which they are not traditionally used.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

I can’t live without my sewing machines! Right now I have three. I own a cheap Brother that I received as a birthday gift 10 years ago from my mother and an old White from the 60s that I found at a Salvation Army for $7.50. My favorite of the three is not even mine. I’m borrowing a black Singer Featherweight from the 1930s from my boyfriend’s grandmother. It’s honestly the most reliable of the three – they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?

I’ve always followed the rules. I’m shy by nature and so rules offer security and structure – they guard me from my insecurities. This mentality often creeps into my artistic practice, and so I’m always working to find opportunities within my process of making that embrace unpredictability.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about liminality. Liminality doesn’t follow rules. It’s chaotic and unpredictable, but it’s in these interstices of social structure, of artistic media, of religion that we are the most aware of ourselves.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  

Vulnerability, liminality, softness and balance.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?

Gillian Welch, Agnes Martin and Margaret Kilgallen.

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?

Stay in the studio. Make. Make. Make.

I overthink everything. You should see how many drafts of this interview I’ve written. I’ve realized that I can’t think through an art piece. At a certain point you have to stop thinking and start making.

See more of Anna's work in our current exhibition, Surfacing