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Christopher Buening

Hunter / Gatherer

Hunter/Gatherer is a collection of mixed media installations that explore time, memory and the emergence of self-awareness.

© 2015 Christopher Buening, Trophies (detail). Courtesy of the artist.
© 2015 Christopher Buening, Trophies (detail). Courtesy of the artist.
  • June 4 - 25, 2015
  • Opening: Thursday, June 4

Referring to the theme that unites this body of work, Christopher Buening gleans a quote from Patti Smith’s 2010 memoir Just Kids “…Occasionally we discover in the folds of an old handkerchief a shell or insignificant stone that had once embodied our happiest afternoons.”

Buening grew up in a family whose interests were in sharp contrast to his own temperament. His father, the consummate sportsman, possessed a fervor to instill this passion in his son.

“My father is an ardent hunter. He rabidly supports the NRA and is a staunch conservative. He also collects guns, knives and hunting paraphernalia and is out shooting at least 4 times a week (hunting, target practice, sporting clays). I was taught to shoot down in the quarry near our old cabin in Wisconsin as soon as I able to hold a gun with his guidance. When I was old enough to complete Hunter’s Safety, he almost always brought me along on hunting trips and sport shooting. I have spent countless hours in the woods with him tracking deer, grouse, woodcock, etc. I just was never any good at it.”

Buening continues, “I did however love the old hunting cabin on the lake in Florence County, WI. I enjoyed being in the woods for hours finding mushrooms, building forts, looking at the plants and trees, frogs and birds. But I hated shooting animals. To please my father, though, I sometimes pretended I did. I was far more interested in the more delicate aspects of life: art and music, drawing and decorating. And I liked collecting things I would find in the woods, on the lake beaches and back roads while I was up there. And I am still an obsessive collector of things I find on the ground and random bits of ephemera I come across in my daily travels. To me each rock, shell or piece of plastic represents a moment. I remember where I was or what I was thinking the moment I pocketed it.”

Hunter/Gatherer incorporates its elements from Buening’s compulsive accumulation of random flotsam and jetsam. In contrast, his vases, vessels and urns function as containers to gather and hold things – feelings and ashes (mainly of the dead). But as his title suggests, the bulk of the exhibition is about hunting and those bygone days in a tiny cabin in northern Wisconsin.

About the Artist

Christopher Buening was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He earned a B.F.A. from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. He relocated to Seattle, and is a long-standing member of the Seattle artist collective SOIL and has, during the past 15 years, actively exhibited his art throughout the region. His work is represented in the Washington State, King County, and City of Seattle public art collections.