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Jerry Buchanan's lectures were so popular that students were interviewed for the limited number of positions in each class.

"Drawing a human skull by candlelight" was perhaps the most famous lesson. This photograph captures Jerry   studying the efforts put forth by a current crop of students. 

"I realize and appreciate the symbolism of the skull, but I want to get beyond that," Buchanan once said of the exercise.  "Human skulls are like the music of Bach:  the most perfect examples of human architecture." 

Jerry Buchanan
"From skulls to tin cans:
Learning a new way of seeing" October 16, 1980
The Daily Princetonian
 




 

Jerry asked his students:  "Why try to communicate in art?  Can we help fellow humans understand more about life, what it is to be human?  Can art help offset negatives of life:  war, bigotry, greed, hate?  Visualize how the mind works. Visualize what and how the mind's eye sees.  Positive releasing, reemploying of chaos, chaotic feelings.  Good way to get and give love - an act of generosity, giving, fosters tolerant attitudes toward fellow humans and their differences. "

(excerpt from JB's personal journal )

The following review was written by a student from a school newsletter:
(author and date unknown)

Introductory Drawing, the only course offered by the Visual Arts department on this subject, was truly a mind-awakening ex-perience.  Contrary to what might be termed 'natural talent', but rather a desire to approach drawing with sincerity and an open mind.  So, being open-minded, it was necessary for almost everyone taking the course to cast aside many preconceived notions of what a drawing should be or "what looks good". 

Exploration and experimentation were stressed as a means of finding a valid means of expression on paper.  Assisting this growing process were frequent critiques offered by classmates and by professor Jerry Buchanan.  The class was conducted in 2 three hour weekly studios each week.  To enhance creativity and expression, night studios were held by candlelight.  Often while drawing in the semi-dark, words of encouragement were offered in the form of quotations from various artists.

An informal reading list and names of artists were distributed to be consulted to enhance one's awareness of the possibilities existing in contemporary art.  Additional required outside class work included maintenance of a journal and completion of a self portrait each week.

There was not a student whose drawing proficiency and visual sensitivity did not improve.  In acquiring or improving these skills, a unique sense of confidence was gained as well. 
Buchanan's students describe him as "rigorous and demanding" and a "very intense man" who "thinks carefully about what the class is doing."  One student said that, "during class sometimes he'll read poems or quote an artist; just anything we can perhaps assimilate and use in our paintings.

James Seawright, director of the Visual Arts Program said, "Jerry is fairly well-known in New York and in this area...

"Buchanan has been affiliated with three major Soho galleries.  Teaching a VA 201 may not have the magnitude of a personal exhibit in a New York gallery, but Buchanan said he finds the experience worthwhile and challenging. 

"There's so much to be done in a beginner's class, he noted.  'The level of experience ranges from novices to a few students who have had three or four years of drawing instruction."
 

 From skulls to tin cans:  Learning a new way of seeing"
 October 16, 1980   The Daily Princetonian

 

 


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  last updated 03/11/2008 10:25:48 AM -0600