Tyanna Buie’s “In Celebration”

The new exhibit “Tyanna Buie: After Image Exhibition” represents a culmination of the artist’s multi-year excavation of her childhood through a handful of family photographs.

“Buie’s artistic practice reveals the powerful role memory plays in how we understand the world around us,” said Leah Kolb, curator of exhibitions at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). “Even as memories shift and evolve, they nevertheless represent something essential to being human — they shape our perceptions and inform how we define ourselves.”

On Friday, May 3, the artist will present a lecture based on her research and exploration of memory following a reception at MMoCA. Each monotype in After Image is based on an original photograph Buie obtained from a family member.

“When Tyanna asked if she could borrow them, I think Tyanna said she had to pay to borrow them,” Kohlb said.

For Buie, the lines between art and memory fade. She experienced familial instability, abuse, and domestic transience throughout her childhood growing up in both Chicago and Milwaukee during the 1980s and 1990s.

While working on the exhibition, Buie underwent a process of searching for clues to capture details of the times in her life, remembering objects or family events. This required her to revisit periods of her life she never thought about before and ask questions.

“Buie’s iterative process transforms her lost childhood and scattered family into something increasingly textured and dimensional,” Kolb said.

After Image will provide a nuanced exploration of memory through mixed-media work including eight large-scale monotypes and a series of three-dimensional works. Kolb said the objects recreated and represented in the exhibition serve as vessels for memory.

“Through her art, Buie critically examines and pays homage to her history, physically conjuring her memories as a foundation from which to define her present and build her future,” she said.

Kolb said the exhibition has been within the works for several months and is excited to finally have her work displayed at the museum again. Buie pursued a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and kept in touch with the MMoCA curatorial staff after having her work included the 2013 Wisconsin Triennial Exhibition.

“When she moved to Detroit, she still comes back to Milwaukee and Madison often because she has family in Milwaukee and whenever she’s in Madison she pops by,” Kolb said.

Now based in Detroit, she serves as the Assistant Professor/Section Chair of Printmaking at the College for Creative Studies. Buie also does a number of shows regionally but Kolb said this will be a “wholesale” of her work as Buie has gathered all she could from the photographes which inspired the After Image Exhibition.  

“This fuzzier foggy memory which is what Tyanna is grabbing at is like when you’re dreaming and you don’t quite remember. It’s like grabbing at mist,” Kolb said.

MMoCA will present Tyanna Buie: After Image in the State Street Gallery from May 4 through Sept. 22. The lecture will take place tonight at 6:30 p.m.