Technique Talk is a weekly online Alive feature that spotlights the process of a Columbus artist. Know someone we should talk to? Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allison Buenger. Photo by Krystle Merrow.
If you head to Holiday Hop tomorrow (which you should!), you’ll see Allison Buenger’s work a couple places. The mixed-media artist is a facilitator for artists with disabilities by day, art creator at night. She recently finished a series inspired by the stories and dreams of the first mass-produced American suburb made for vets returning from WWII. You can see more of Buenger’s work here, and read about her process below. We also appreciate that she appreciates Frida Kahlo’s ability to party.
What kind of art do you make?
I studied ceramics, but have found myself gravitating toward mixed media sculpture/installation and drawing/painting recently. Time constraints and limited working space have forced me to be creative with my approach to making art, but some fun things have come out of this process. It sounds like a really little thing, but the colors that I use in my art have also expanded. I still use a lot of chartreuse, but blues and other colors are making their way into the mix.
When do you make your art?
I try to squeeze in art-making hours after work and on the weekends. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many of those hours as I would like. I love working in the morning, but often find myself burning the midnight oil.
I hope to work on something every week, but like many creative people, I tend to work best (and more) with impending deadlines for exhibitions or shows.
Where do you create art?
I currently work out of my tiny bedroom. Why that happens is a matter of necessity, but I dream of having a dedicated studio in the future. I would love to have a door to close after I make a huge mess but am not done with the process. It would also be nice to have a space that I wouldn’t have to be so careful about spilling and staining things.
What has been inspiring your work lately?
I just finished a series about Levittown, the first mass-produced suburb that popped up for returning veterans after WWII. The idea of housing as commodity and status symbol has become even more potent since the housing bubble burst.
I have recently rediscovered my love of art history due to my job and find the work of other artists endlessly fascinating. I am also really excited to have opportunities to show in group exhibitions. I have not been able to build up a big body of work, so contributing a few pieces to a group show has been a great way to keep exhibiting work. CAW (Creative Arts of Women), Ohio Art League, and ROY G BIV Gallery are all great organizations. They all have tiny art shows for the holiday season so I feel like I have been a little elf making tiny works of art these past few weeks.
What advice would you give a new artist that you’ve found invaluable?
Make as much work as possible without worrying too much about if it all makes sense AND find people in your life who will be honest about what you make. We all love a nice compliment, but nothing is as important as well-intended constructive criticism.
What do you do while you work?
I tend to work out ideas in silence but love to have something on in the background while I am completing a piece. A few projects I have done were very tedious, so if I do have mindless work to complete I will watch movies or TV. (FYI: My favorite TV show is “Parks and Rec.”) Generally when I am working I just listen to music. Something upbeat is best for me.
Has the way you work evolved over the past couple years?
My work has definitely changed. I am much more experimental with materials and I tend to work on a smaller scale instead of larger installations. In a way this is very freeing since I can move from one idea to the next relatively quickly.
Do you ever experience artists’ block? If so, what do you do to combat it?
During the day I am an art facilitator with artists with disabilities. The artists and my coworkers (also artists) are such an amazing sounding board and inspire me to keep creating. If I find myself struggling I can always channel their positivity and be encouraged by their determination. Making art should be a joy. If I feel completely uninspired I shelf a project and start something else. A solution usually comes and finds me and I can resume the first project eventually. I try not to be out of commission too long because it does get increasingly harder to start something the longer you put it off.
Three artists, living or dead, that you would invite to a dinner party.
Frida Kahlo was the first artist who came to mind. I can only imagine how amazing sharing a meal with her would be. Not only is her art amazing, but she overcame so much within her lifetime. I am very interested in her political leanings AND can only imagine how fun she would have been to party with.
Do-Ho Suh is currently a favorite artist and he seems like the kind of dinner guest who would outlast the others. I picture talking to him well past when Frida passes out from partying too hard. His work is really stunning and often centers on public vs. private space, which very much intrigues me.
Artemisia Gentileschi would be my wild card guest. I bet she would like Frida, and I would be interested to hear what it was like to be a part of the art world as a woman in the 1600s.