The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday October 16th


Paintings evoke questions of public space, human experience

Luke Miller Buchanan, a Raleigh based artist, investigates the function of public spaces and buildings in his collection “A Year and A Day,” which is currently displayed in the National Humanities Center.

The theme of the exhibit revolves around the common experiences that people share in buildings, spaces and cities. As an architect major, Buchanan loves to observe and investigate buildings, but he doesn’t design them — he produces paintings of buildings to prompt reflection on how it witnesses the passage of time and humans’ common experiences.

“The overlying message is that we are all individuals and as individuals we are alone in the way that we see the world, but we share a lot of things,” he said. “We share spaces and a lot of feelings. I think the focus is on the way that those two things can exist at the same time.”

Buchanan presents his experiences in the cities of Raleigh, Durham, New York and New Orleans in this collection through mixed media. Raleigh and Durham are familiar places from which he draws inspiration, whereas the latter two cities are rich with history, thus inciting Buchanan’s interest.

“I believe (New Orleans) is almost 400 years old and a lot has happened to that city in 400 years,” he said. “I believe that people change, time changes but spaces don’t change so this is a really good place for me to investigate that.”

Carol B. Vorhaus, the National Humanities Center’s director of development said that Buchanan’s paintings are a fascinating mix of photography, architecture and painting.

“He’s got a very unique way of looking at spaces — he starts with photographs of often dilapidated buildings and then he stretches them, and it becomes more of a collage type of work,” she said. “It’s fun, contemporary and very appealing.”

Buchanan was recommended to the center by Shana Dumont Garr, the director of programs & exhibitions of Artspace, a visual art center in Raleigh. Buchanan used to be the artist in residence at the center.

“(Buchanan), by creating this sort of geometry and lines, uses collage in order to make us look twice at these spaces and really feel their history,” Garr said.

She said that Buchanan’s paintings fit the National Humanities Center’s objective because his works make history visible.

“I think that Luke’s work takes a city and puts it into a context. He’s using imagery in line with photography rather than an essay or words. He’s using his hearing and his intuition,” Garr said.

“Any contemporary art that speaks to you as a form of communication is the most relevant art and I think he does that.”

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