Ron Buffington

In Pursuit of Less
dimensions variable; found materials; 2017

Ron Buffington
Signal Mountain, Tennessee, USA


I build sculptural constructions from found materials—floats detached from fishing nets, shards of burnished plastic, lost or abandoned toys, rough-hewn chunks of Styrofoam. I combine these materials in a manner reminiscent of collage, attaching or conjoining them, arranging them side-by-side on shelves, stacking them precariously on platforms. I do not seek to redeem these materials; they have their own value. Instead, I choose to leave them intact, to present them, simply, to honor them as things.

Today, much of the material with which I work is found in low pressure areas, huddled beneath highway overpasses, clogging ditches that flank hiking trails, lodged along fence lines, etc. Here, the cast off tends to collect as if seeking the solace of companionship. My goal in working with “things” is to consciously suspend my own subject position, to disavow anthropocentric ideology, and to recognize my own entanglement with the world. I am compelled to seek out—and point out—the capaciousness of less.

In addition to assemblage, I work with cut-and-paste and digital collage. In a manner analogous to my assemblages, my collages employ a gesture of offering, the presentation of material for the viewer’s consideration. These images combine my own photography with appropriated imagery, a disjuncture I relish. Digital collage facilitates the conflation of incommensurable image worlds. The resistance offered by the fragments of a collage, their refusal to coalesce, underlines our uneasy relationship with nature, including and especially our own.


Ron Buffington teaches Painting and Drawing at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, where he served as head of the department for six years. He received his MFA from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. Buffington’s work has been featured in numerous curated exhibitions, including “The Shadow’s Body: Painting’s Allegorical Impulse” at Watkins College of Art, Nashville, Tennessee; “Primarily Painting” at Muse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; “Aloe Vera” at Gray Contemporary, Houston, Texas; and Tennessee Abstract Painting at the Cheekwood Museum, Nashville, Tennessee. Buffington has participated in residencies at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, Canada; Mudhouse in Agios Ioannis, Crete; SÍM in Reykjavík, Iceland; Fjúk in Husavík, Iceland; Vermont Studio Center in Johnson; and Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York.


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Dread Circumference (detail)
dimensions variable; installation, found materials and digital collage; 2021
Dread Circumference (detail)
12″x16″ (each collage); installation, found materials and digital collage; 2021
More Pure the Stream (Market of the Anthropocene)
16″x20″; digital collage; 2020
More Pure the Stream (Museum of Hidden People)
16″x20″; digital collage; 2020