Keith D. Buswell
Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
Keith Buswell graduated with a BFA in art University of Nebraska--Lincoln. He works with various printmaking processes such as screen-printing, intaglio and mono printing and dabbles in drawing and multimedia. He currently is a member of Karen Kunc’s Constellation Studios where he creates his prints. His work has been shown in the United States, Egypt, Dubai, France, and Italy. Notably, Keith received the Perry Family Award in 2018 and second place in the 40 Under 40 Showcase in Annapolis, MD and third place at the Under Pressure print show in Fort Collins, CO. He is a contributing artist to issue 23 and 28 of The Hand Magazine. In 2021, Keith became curator/co-captain of the Tugboat Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska. He also attended residencies at The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska and at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Hyattsville, Maryland. Originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa, he currently lives in Lincoln with his husband Brad and his dog Max.
How and when did you start creating art?
From a young age, I have always been drawn to pencil as a means of interpreting the world around me. In high school, my interests swung toward performance, music, and theater, so I put the pencil down in favor of the microphone. When I decided to go back to school in my mid-thirties, I struggled with what I wanted to study. I took three classes on subjects that interested me in communication, biological science, and art to try and spark a decision within me. Needless to say, the art history class was the tiebreaker.
What media and genres do you work in?
I am primarily a print maker who specializes in etchings. Most of these are done on copper plates using ferric chloride. I take a plate, put a hard ground on, scratch into that ground, and place it in the acid. Wherever the ground is exposed is where I create lines. The longer I leave it the acid, the deeper the etch and the more ink that will collect in the line. I do this process repeatedly until I create the image I want. Recently, in hopes of changing into a more ecofriendly practice, I have started to work with saline etching on aluminum plates, thus sparing the environment and my lungs from harmful toxins.
In this postmodern era of artmaking, I guess I am a surrealist/landscape artist, but those lines are blurry. I would like to think of myself as genre-less. That box seems limiting to me.
Who or what are your influences?
I have keen interests in science and sociology, so looking at the natural world and finding correlations to the human condition are important to me. Bringing new ideas into visual arts is not only a way for me to connect with my interests, but also a way to connect these ideas with a broader public, thus furthering the discussion and expanding my own knowledge. Beyond that, I look to scientific illustrations, especially from The Architecture of Trees, surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher, and printmakers like Sean Caufield and Michael Barnes.
What was your inspiration for
Hawley is the name of the neighborhood where I currently live. The tree itself was located just a couple blocks from my house and I would see it on my walks to work or school every day. In my mind we would talk to each other in passing, relaying our day, our fears, and our hopes daily. My trees are reflections on my sphere, the neighborhoods that mean something to me. Obviously, this tree became a special friend to me so naming it after my own neighborhood seemed necessary. Unfortunately, my friend succumbed to the emerald ash borer and was cut down about a year after I finished this piece. I still miss my friend.
Describe your creative process?
My process-oriented way of making is really a creative form of the game “telephone.” I start by finding a tree that means something to me, says something about the community I want to represent, or just has a presence that speaks to me. I make a preliminary sketch and usually transfer that sketch into a more finished drawing using gouache and colored pencil to determine color. At this point I can transfer that image onto the plate. The process changes the image from that initial sketch to what is etched on the plate, creating a different subject altogether. That is important to me as I don’t want to make a photographic image of what I see, but an entirely new entity that lives on the page.
What are you working on currently?
Currently, I am looking to round out this project. The community of trees started with my current city of Lincoln, Nebraska and now working its way backwards to my brief time and Chicago and ultimately to my hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa. There is something poetic in working my way back in time from where I am now to where I grew up, It allows me to really think about the seasons and how that can be analogous to my own life. I am excited to keep experimenting with ecologically sound printmaking practices, not only with saline etching but my studio, Constellations, recently acquired an electro-etching system eliminating those toxic chemicals altogether.
What are your near/long term goals as an artist?
One of the problems with focusing on a long-term project (this one has consumed the last eight years of my life), is figuring out when to end and what to do next. I am hoping to focus on more queer-centric work in the future, although for me, this body of work is gay related; community is a queer issue. Long term, I have plans on purchasing and running a local art store here in Lincoln within the next few years. It will be challenging to keep my artistic career and run a business at the same time, but I want to make it happen. Local art stores can be the backbone of an artist community and I want to keep that going.
Where can people view/purchase your work (gallery, website, etc)?
You can find my work on my website, https://www.keithdbuswell.art/ or on my Instagram @keithdbuswell although my online presence is abysmal. I’m working on it, I swear. I have work in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Lux Center for the Arts and in Omaha, Nebraska at the Roberta & Bob Rogers Gallery in Omaha, Nebraska. I also participate in the art fair circuit and hope to participate in the Lincoln Arts Festival, Omaha Arts Festival, Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, Artsplash in Sioux City, Iowa, and Waukee Arts Festival in Des Moines, Iowa next summer. And yes, I am exhausted just thinking about all that work!
All Images @ Keith D. Buswell
All Rights Reserved
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