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Ruined Landscapes: Paintings of the Balkan War Zone by Laura Buxton
Mar 26, 2012 - Jul 28, 2012
A Project in Partnership with: Collector & Donor Hugh L. McColl, Jr., The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Deparment of Art, Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies, The Carol Grotnes Belk Library & Information Commons, & Funded With A Generous Gift From Hugh L. McColl, Jr.
Painter Laura Buxton arrived in the Balkans in the summer of 1994 when Bosnia-Herzegovina was under a cease-fire. Like most outsiders in Europe, Asia and America, Buxton had read about the war in newspapers and failed to make out the why of it. “As an artist,” Buxton said, “I felt this tremendous responsibility to say something that would be worthwhile, that other people could see. And even if they couldn’t understand, they could at least gain some insight from a different point of view.”
When Buxton reached her destination, Mostar – formerly a great cultural crossroads, now cynically nicknamed the “Beirut of the Balkans” – her conscience and purpose were no longer clear. Depressed by the human catastrophe, the three weeks she had set aside to execute a few sketches of the places and people she encountered turned into a four-month stay. Leaving only when the cease-fire collapsed and shells began falling again on Mostar and Sarajevo, she returned to the Balkans in 1996 for a second visit.
In 1996, Hugh L. McColl, Jr., (the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America) was invited to look at slides of Buxton’s Balkan paintings. Familiar with her work as an associate of artist Ben Long in the execution of his frescoes for St. Peter’s Church and the Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte, McColl was struck not only by their artistic merit, but their historical value as well. “These paintings are like ghosts rattling the chains of war in the attic of our souls,” he said. In addition to purchasing all the paintings that were still available, McColl sponsored a book to broaden the audience for Buxton’s work.
A native of Scotland, Laura Buxton studied in Florence before settling in France. She now lives in Paris with musician John Greaves and their daughters, Ailsa Grace and Millie Greaves.1
Forty one of these paintings are now an important part of the Turchin Center’s Permanent Collection and will be used for education and traveling exhibitions.
1. “Balkan War Zone Featured at Bank of America Gallery in Charlotte, NC.” Bank of America Gallery. Carolina Arts, Aug. 2000. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. <http://www.carolinaarts.com/800bankofamerica.html>.