Artist Next Door: Graham Buss

Buss’s “realist” art defies expectations

by Ty Gotham, staff writer

Now presenting the darker side of art, brought to you by reality: Graham Buss, a senior communications major, is an artist experienced in tattooing, flash, etching, photography, video and even music.

Buss applies his artistic skill to his photographs most heavily during editing. Many dislike the lack of strict representation in his pieces, but Buss said, “When I edit a picture, I am trying to capture the essence of who the person is, not what they look like that day. I might be trying to capturing the emotion, or something else, but never just the moment.”

“If I’m trying to capture the emotion,” he continued, “then does it really matter that I’m taking that pimple off his face, or removing that really bad five-o’clock shadow? If that’s wrong, then why does God ask for blue and purple pomegranates [in Exodus 28:33]? Pomegranates are not blue and purple! God uses the artist to portray something that He has not created. God is asking the artist to create a manipulation of His creation.”

Buss’s studio artwork is not what one might consider normal, either. His etches and water colors often depict darker ideas than are typical in Christian art. Buss said, “I think that reality is a lot darker than we like to admit. I’m not trying to shock anyone. I’m just trying to help them see reality, ‘cause that’s what I’m trying to see too.”

“A lot of times I take ethics, morals, beliefs, and unashamedly compare them to what I’m seeing in art, news or even chapel,” Buss said. “That’s how I take it in, and I analyze it by creating.” If you see him during chapel or class, he may be etching out an intricate piece. Buss claims that he can express what he is thinking about the message much more clearly through a picture than through words.

Buss often exaggerates his subjects in order to show his passion for them, or his distaste. “I can create a sarcastic picture about something that disturbs me and portray exactly how I feel,” he said. The pictures do not represent a physical reality, but they do represent the reality of Buss’s ideas, and they are meant to be thought provoking.

“I do the same thing with my music,” Buss added. He was lead vocalist and lyricist in a hardcore punk band called Man Made Hell. “One of the main purposes lyrically was to portray God’s justice without our bias,” he explained. “That was accomplished through reiterating Scripture in a creative way for the sake of our audiences’ understanding.”

So Buss portrays the concepts of reality in every piece of art, photography and video he does—but not just the physical reality. He looks for the side that most do not see, and it is available to those who look long enough to see the different reality in it.

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