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 Beverly Buchanan  (1940 - )

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Lived/Active: Georgia/Michigan/North Carolina      Known for: rural south painting, sculpture, mixed-media, photography

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Red and Green Houses
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Although she has been successful working as an artist in sculpture, painting, drawing and photography, Beverly Buchanan originally studied and worked in the medical field.

Buchanan was born in Fuquay, North Carolina in 1940 and grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina.  Her education began in Greensboro, North Carolina at Bennett College where she received her Bachelor’s degree in 1962.  Later, she went to Columbia University in New York earning her Master’s Degree in Parasitology and a second Master’s Degree in Public Health in the late 1960s.  In 1971, Buchanan attended the Art Students League in New York City where she was instructed by Norman Lewis, an artist recognized for his Abstract painting, after being employed as a Medical Technologist and dedicating time to Health Education.

Throughout her career, Buchanan has received a number of fellowships and awards for her artwork.  In 1980, she was given one fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and another from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  A second fellowship was awarded by the NEA for her sculpture work in 1990, the same year she was honored with the Pollock-Krasner Award.  She has served as a Visiting Artist in South Carolina and as the Artist-In-Residence in Macon, Georgia at the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

Beginning in the 1970s, solo displays of her artwork have been organized by institutions, including the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery and the Cinque Gallery in New York City; Heath Gallery Incorporated of Atlanta, Georgia; Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Georgia; Schering-Plough Headquarters Gallery in Madison, New Jersey; and the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  Buchanan’s work has been included in group exhibitions at museums and galleries across the United States, and has been installed in outdoor settings in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.  The “Blue Station Stones,” for example, were completed in 1986 and are situated at the Earlington Heights Metro Station in Miami, Florida.

Permanent collections in which her artwork is found belong to institutions including the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina; High Museum of Art in Atlanta Georgia; Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; and the Newark Museum in New Jersey.

Submitted by Jenna Wuensche, Researcher

Source: Jules Heller and Nancy G. Heller, North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century

Additional Sources (Internet Resources):
Beverly Buchanan, Artist’s Personal Website,


Biography from Morris Museum of Art:
The following biography has been provided by Karen Towers Klacsmann, Adjunct Assistant Curator/Research, Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.

Beverly Buchanan is known for work that celebrates the humble vernacular architecture of the rural South. The rapidly disappearing environment that she remembers from her childhood is an enduring image that illustrates the tenacity, endurance, and triumph of marginalized people over impoverished conditions. Her distinctive paintings, drawings, and sculpture pay homage to the self-taught artist with their vibrant color palette, loosely applied brushstrokes, inserted text, and collage elements, but Beverly is a trained artist who pursued her vocation following an initial career in health education.

Born in Fuquay, North Carolina, on October 8, 1940, Beverly was adopted by Walter and Marion Buchanan. The family lived in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where her father was the dean of the Department of Agriculture at South Carolina State College. Walter, often accompanied by his only child, visited farmers throughout the state and advised them on the necessity of crop rotation. Beverly was fascinated by the people and the environment that she encountered on these visits. Although many of the people she met were victims of poverty, adversity, and racism, she was impressed by their perseverance and improvisational skills. As a child, Beverly enjoyed drawing; her work was once exhibited at the local Y.W.C.A., but it was the field of health and medicine that she chose to study.

Beverly attended Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and received a degree in Medical Technology in 1962. She went to graduate school at Columbia University in New York City and was awarded an M.S. degree in parasitology in 1968 and an M.P.H. degree in 1969. While working as a health educator in New Jersey, she applied to medical school and was accepted as an alternate. This forced her to evaluate her feelings about giving up her career to pursue her artistic talent. She enrolled in Norman Lewis’s class at the Art Students League in 1971. Lewis and Romare Bearden befriended and encouraged Buchanan. Beverly’s early work was abstract and was shown in several group exhibitions in New York City, but she quickly switched to the depiction of shacks and vernacular architecture that she remembered from her childhood sojourns in rural South Carolina. In 1977 Beverly relocated to the South. She photographs specific vernacular architecture and its surroundings and uses them as a starting point to create expressionistic drawings, paintings, and sculpture that are composites of the places she saw during her childhood. She often displays the photographs beside her work.

Her art has been widely exhibited, and she has received numerous honors including a Georgia Visual Arts award (1997), a Guggenheim fellowship (1980), and Anonymous Was a Woman (2002). Beverly currently maintains studios in Athens, Georgia, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her work is found in the Morris Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, Columbia Museum of Art, High Museum of Art, Montclair Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Newark Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.

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