Reflecting on his experiences teaching, Charles Burchfield told interviewer John D. Morse, “I couldn’t possibly tell anybody how to paint in watercolor….I told them: ‘Don’t think about the medium. What you’re trying to say is much more important than what you’re saying it with. And if you’re thinking about what you are trying to express, you may use watercolor like nobody else ever used it.” This was sage advice from a practiced artist. Burchfield used watercolor to realize his vision in unique ways, but his techniques were far from simple.
This exhibition focuses on Burchfield’s distinctive working methods and materials and illustrates his unique understanding of their potential. His use of color is explored through notations and diagrams and an examination of the pigments left in his studio. Other ephemera and material from the Charles E. Burchfield Archives is used to illustrate his use of paper and its expansion into larger compositions. Viewers are asked this time to think about the medium and discover how Burchfield created the many compositions he completed throughout his career.
The artworks and objects in the exhibition have been drawn from the collection and Charles E. Burchfield Archives. The evolution of artworks is illustrated with studies, fragments, and studio materials, such as brushes, paint boxes, papers and pigments analyzed by paper conservator Patricia D. Hamm, who is the preeminent specialist in conserving artworks by Charles E. Burchfield, and Mary Broadway, a graduate student in the Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College.
Co-curators are Tullis Johnson, Archives & Information Resource Manager, who conceived the exhibition idea, and Nancy Weekly, Head of Collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator, who authored the checklist and label texts.