From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

The lllusion of “when I have time” (in honor of Lisa Bufano)

with 4 comments

Usually, generally, in every moment we anticipate the next moment without recognizing that the next moment may not come.

Lisa Bufano

Lisa Bufano- I cannot for the life of me confirm the title for this piece, but it’s my favorite.  (source:

Today I looked up a friend to show her artwork to another person who I knew would love it and discovered an obituary notice attached to her name 21 days old. She was an inspiring person, a talented artist, a shining, glowing human being who took the most frustrating and difficult things and made them beautiful, challenging art.

I knew her in my program at the SMFA 11 years back. She had been an animator, but lost her fingers and her legs below the knee- so she became a dancer. A performance artist. She used her loss to create and become something new and unique. She used the lack of her legs to make constructed, sculptural legs a part of her work. She was incredible. I did not take the time to build a strong friendship with her, but each time we talked and connected, visited a museum together, etc. it was so clear how well we connected and worked together.

She wanted me to collaborate on a performance. I was pregnant when we met again in San Francisco 6 years ago and she actually found me a dance to perform in while pregnant (by virtue of being pregnant) at the Yerba Buena Center. I didn’t feel comfortable getting up on my stilts while pregnant to collaborate with her though (yes, I stilt), so I thought “later”. Just as my back injury from labor got manageable and my kid started daycare she left town for a while and we lost touch. A little over a year ago I bumped into her again. She was back in SF! We talked and “yes, let’s get together” “lets collaborate on a performance”. I didn’t seize the day. I missed the opportunity. Just the way so many days I miss seeing a friend, catching up, having dinner or going to a museum, I missed this chance to be with her and work together. It wasn’t a huge window before my MFA program and being swept up in that. I kept thinking in the back of my mind “I’ve got to get ahold of her when I’m done, this will be great.” There were moments I could have done that, could have connected, talked, planned, done.  I didn’t.  I was having ideas for a piece together when I looked her up again today.


She will be missed.

**later note  After writing this (and having a cry) I actually got up on stilts to try out a performance piece I’d been working on for my critique class.  My first one involving stilts.  Somehow it felt like a little tribute and I felt like a little of her was there.  I may never get to do a stilting dance with her, but it and when I do performance art on stilts, I will think of her.

Written by Mary Corey March

October 25, 2013 at 12:27 am

Posted in art, artists

Tagged with , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Thank you for your moving eulogy and appreciation; I’ve used it as a citation in her Wikipedia article (I told her brother I’d keep an eye on it). Everyone who knew Lisa was wrecked on some level by her unexpected death…

    Kenneth Freeman

    October 28, 2013 at 10:19 am

    • Thank you. Knowing how she died I’m kicking myself even more for falling out of touch for so long. There are very few people that are comfortable to walk through a museum or gallery with, and she was one of three I know. There’s such a balance of each seeing what you want to see without having to actually negotiate through it, giving each other space, sharing thoughts, allowing for silence… she was really great at that. It’s a rare and wonderful thing- a level of sensitivity to people and art that is hard to find. I wish I’d gotten out more in the past few years and gone with her to more things, shared more with her. I’m not surprised she found some of the other awesome people in this city that I know- mutual friends. I’m glad she did. We will all miss her.


      October 30, 2013 at 12:20 am

  2. As I’ve often told people, Lisa had that /je ne sais quois/, and she had it in spades!

    Kenneth Freeman

    October 30, 2013 at 2:00 am

  3. I met Lisa here in Boise Idaho more than a few years back. My son had seen her jogging down the street while we were in the store, and was amazed by the gracefulness in which she seemed to glide on her prosthetics. I ran into her a few days later and we struck up an almost instant friendship. Although we didn’t speak daily, we met up on a fairly regular basis when she was in town. She truly was an amazing person, & will be missed. The world will be a little less without her.

    Manny Mendez

    Manny Mendez

    November 29, 2014 at 6:47 am

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