"I experience a deep sense of openness and honesty within the diligence of repetition." ~Shelita Birchett Benash
Monmouth Museum 38th Annual National Juried Art Exhibition Opening January 14, 2017 - March 13, 2017
Honored and excited to have my Holy Cow! Recycled art glass mosaic sculpture chosen for the upcoming
Monmouth Museum 38th National Juried Art Exhibition.
LINCROFT: A BIG (AND LITTLE) ART HAPPENING
Click on the link above for the exhibition article.
HONORED AND EXCITED TO HAVE MY CERAMIC MIXED MEDIA SCULPTURE OFFERING III SELECTED FOR THIS DISTINGUISHED EXHIBITION.
THE 47TH ANNUAL JURIED MEMBERS EXHIBITION
JUROR: SARAH FRITCHEY
NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
APRIL 29, 2017-MAY 28, 2017
STITZER FAMILY GALLERY
BARRETT ART CENTER:
"Shelita Birchett Benash, your work was one of nine from Hudson Valley artists selected for New Directions ’15, Barrett Art Center’s 31st Annual National Juried Contemporary Art Exhibition. Juror Janet Bishop selected your work from upwards of 600 entries from across the country. In her Juror’s Statement, Bishop recognizes your work and the other selections as “works that reflect a strength of conviction—art that seem[s] to hit a high note in fresh, interesting ways no matter what the subject, style, or medium.” Congratulations!"
Thank you, Juror Janet Bishop and Barrett Art Center. I am tremendously honored and elated to have my sculptural work chosen as part of the distinct group of artworks for the New Directions 2015 Contemporary Art Exhibition.
ABOUT NEW DIRECTIONS and the BARRETT ART CENTER: New Directions is a premier national exhibition of contemporary art in all visual art media, showcasing the curre of established and emerging artists from across the United States working in a varied array of medium and genres. The show is visited by art appreciators and collectors from the Hudson Valley and beyond, including New York City and the suburbs of Connecticut. Now in its 29th year, and juried by professionals of repute from the country’s leading modern art museums, this exhibition brings contemporary art to an atypical venue - the warm and welcoming galleries of Barrett Art Center’s 1830's Greek Revival Townhouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Surprisingly, the Barrett townhouse lends itself well to a dramatic, visually compelling presentation of contemporary and cutting-edge work.
ABOUT OUR JUROR:
Janet Bishop currently serves as the Weisel Family Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). Over the course of her tenure at SFMOMA, Janet has organized dozens of special exhibitions and presentations of the museum’s collection of 20th and 21st-century art, and published and lectured widely. She was one of the lead curators for The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde — an award-winning exhibition that premiered at SFMOMA before traveling to the Grand Palais in Paris, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Other exhibitions of special note include 75 Years of Looking Forward: The Anniversary Show and Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective.
While SFMOMA is undergoing expansion construction, Janet is overseeing its off-site exhibition program—“SFMOMA on the Go”—which presents exhibitions in both traditional and non-traditional venues throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
Janet is currently at work on two special exhibitions slated for SFMOMA’s newly expanded facility: Matisse/Diebenkorn, an exhibition co-organized with The Baltimore Museum of Art that will explore the influence of Henri Matisse on Richard Diebenkorn, and a retrospective of the work of David Park.
Janet was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her B.A. in art history and psychology from Cornell University in 1985 and her M.A. in art history from Columbia University in 1988. Her first museum job was at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell. She currently serves on the Johnson’s Advisory Council.
NEW DIRECTIONS 2015 NATIONAL JURIED CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION
SEPTEMBER 26 THRU OCTOBER 31, 2015
OPENING RECEPTION: SEPTEMBER 26, SATURDAY, 4PM-7PM
INSIDE THE ARTISTS' STUDIO: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17, 4PM-6PM
BARRETT ART CENTER/DCAA
55 NOX STREET, POUGHKEEPSIE, NY 12601
"Starosaurus" WIP. Glass mirror and stained glass mosaic on fiberglass for "Dinosaurs Rule!" Stamford Downtown Art in Public Spaces. Stamford, CT. 2015. Honored to be a participating artist. It's sure to be a fantastical show.
Three of my mixed media sculptures were chosen for the compelling and inclusive Please Touch Sculpture Exhibition at Monmouth Museum. Honored to have my work included in such a transcendent creative experience for the visually impaired.
A unique opportunity to “break the rules” and feel the materials and texture of works of art, Please Touch! Sculpture Exhibition at the Monmouth Museum is a Main Gallery juried exhibition featuring wall and free standing sculpture that can be gently touched by visitors. This exhibition is intended to help visually-impaired people overcome the barrier they experience at most museums by allowing everyone to experience art by touching. Sighted people will also learn to experience art without relying on their eyesight in addition to a visual artistic experience.
COLLABORATIVE CONCEPTS AT SAUNDERS FARM PROJECT 2015
Richard and I are honored to be participating artist in the Collaborative Concepts at Saunders Farm Project 10th Anniversary outdoor sculpture exhibition. Saunders Farm is 149 acres of pure beauty. God's country. What a wonderful gift the to community.
Please click the title of the post to find out more about the Saunders Farm Project 2015.
The Offering Series
The Offering series is part of a practice in what's been described as Basho's "trinity of seeing," True seeing is appreciating; true appreciation is motivating, which culminates with sharing. the desire to share my experience of beauty, awareness, pain, joy and love has become an essential element of my artwork, my life is evermore my studio. Thank you for visiting this space and taking this walk with me.
“The Offering” ceramic mixed media sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2014.
Women of Visions “Storytellers: Truth be Told!” exhibition.
Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
November 21-February 1, 2015
Samuel Black is President, of the Association of African American Museums and Director of African-American Programs, Senator John Heinz History Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate. He has curated several award-winning exhibitions including from “Slavery to Freedom” for which he received a grant from the Department of Education. He is also authored “Soul Soldiers celebrating African Americans in the Vietnam era and organized its corre- sponding exhibition which traveled to cities across the United States. Mr. Black continues to curate, edit and co-author prestigious works on African-American culture
Ann Tanksley, an internationally acclaimed artist and educator, Pittsburgh native, Carnegie Institute (now Carnegie Mellon) graduate and New York resident, Ms. Tanksley sees herself as a “social commentator” who retells stories such as her now iconic visual interpretations of prose by author, Zora Neal Hurston. Ms. Tanksley has received numerous commissions throughout her illustrious career. Among her corporate clients are Coors National, Pepsi Cola, and Absolut Vodka. Influential collectors of her work include: Oprah Winfrey, Johnson Publishing Company, and Harvard University.
"True creation is an ongoing activity, both as the sustaining power that keeps each of us alive and as the thirst for continued self-cultivation in a cosmos of infinite expansiveness (Carter, 2008, p. 145).
Upon learning about my dear friend, Donna's terminal cancer diagnosis I struggled for an action that would make a difference. I began to pray. I wanted to hold unto something. I began to make prayer beads. The intentional repetitive practice of making each individual bead sculpture was meditation. It was active prayer. Meditative handwork felt empowering in the space of controlling nothing. Then one day, a branch called out to me from the wood pile. The broken tree branch with its severed limbs spoke to me. I administered to the broken tree; wrapped it in preparation. My wrapping opened a conduit to the ancient ancestors. God revealed herself to me in small gestures. “The Offering” came into being. Each time I form the clay, I recognize creativity as a sacred act. And like the first people, I offer up my humble heartfelt handwork for god's saving grace.
"Objects are not without spirit. As living things they touch us in unimagined ways( Hooks, 2007, p317).
We can receive only what we already have! We can only become what we already are! We can learn only what we already know! It is a matter of realizing potentialities. It is not a matter of "adding to" but of "developing," of "evolving." We contain within ourselves a world of capacities, of possibilities, which the outer world summons forth, speaks to, releases" (Richards, 1989, p 38).
"It takes work to translate absorption in an art form into the whole of one's life. One of the reasons the mastery of Zen artists---both ancient and contemporary---is not limited to art is that what they are actively addressing is something much more fundamental. They are studying the nature of the self and reality. How is that done?" (Dado Lori, 2005, p61)
Stamford Downtown Art in Public Places
"Street Seats" 2014. Stamford, CT.
June thru August
Richard and I have been participating in the Stamford Downtown Art in Public Places juried exhibitions since 2006. Stamford is a wonderful town that really supports the arts. Their outdoor sculpture shows are so much fun. The artists are encouraged toward the fantastical. It's an opportunity to make something fanciful; the kind of art that brings smiles. The benches will be auctioned off for charity in September. Got flowers on the brain these days, so a flower mosaic it is!
"Between the initial idea and the finished piece lies a gulf we can see across, but never fully chart. The truly special moments in art making lie in those moments when the gulf is being crossed. Precise descriptions fail, but it connects to that wonderful condition in which the work seems to make itself and the artist serves only as guide or mediator, allowing all things possible" (Bayles & Orland, 1993, 51).
"Street Seats" has its own App! Download "Otocast" for free on iTunes. You'll find the Stamford, CT "Street Seats" under Active Tours. The App features artists audio, bios and bench locations. It's very cool!
I participated in an international mosaic mural project. Caroline Jung, an accomplished mosaic artist living in Germany, is the creator and organizer of Signs. The invitational will include 170 mosaic artists from around the world; each contributing one ancient symbol measuring 20 x 20 centimeters. The mural will be installed in Germany sometime next year. Caroline assembled an impressive group of mosaicists from around the globe. I hope to be a part of the installation team. Signs showed at the 2015 International Mosaic Conference held in Ravenna, Italy. It was a huge success. My recycled button and brass coin Solar sign is 11 rows down and 5 from the right!
LARGE SCALE MOSAIC COMMISSION
WESTCHESTER MATERIALS RECOVERY FACILITY
Up-cycle mosaic conference table permanent installation commissioned by the Westchester Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). 2014. This mosaic is part of several recycled art pieces I have on display inside the MRF's Recycling Education Gallery.
God reveals herself to me in small gestures. Each time I form the clay; I am practicing creativity as a sacred act.
~ Shelita Birchett Benash
"The Offering" series is an exploration of creativity as sacred act. I am inspired by the Zen arts philosophy, where creativity becomes a spiritual practice, a way of seeing and of finding one's place in the world. I love working with the bead form as a meditational tool. When working the clay, I feel a soul connection with the ancient and inifinite past. The first people come to mind. And like the first people, my art work is connected with nature. the ceramic sculptural elements combined with salvaged organic elements, manifests anthropomorphized forms. my meditational creative practice produces a devotional sculpture, a libation...an offering. I've been told that my offering sculptures emit power. This reaction pleases me because that's my intention. I believe deeply in the transformational power of prayer.
The fact that the ruins receive us warmly and kindly after all, and that they attract us with their cracks and flaking surfaces, could this not really be a sign of the material taking revenge, having recaptured its original life?
~Gutai Manifesto, Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai
Sisters: "Age & Experience." Hand built stoneware by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2013.
First works in clay. The clay calls. I am walking. I am walking toward the fire.
Worked on this pieced for several days. Bought this glorious high fire stoneware clay in Philadelphia. It was lush and gritty. Red. Full of iron. It was in this piece where I found my aesthetic. However, it did not make it to the firing. This sculpture reminds me of the long journey to creation. It also reminds me how failure is an essential aspect of the creative process. And this was one spectacular failure.
Public Art Installation
In 2013-2014, I was commissioned to create several mixed media recycled art works for the Westchester Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Yonkers, NY. The MRF houses a recycling education gallery. As part of the installation, I was tasked with transforming 8, 8ft old formica benches into functional works of art for tours of school children to sit on. I took the opportunity to make each individual bench into an interactive sustainability learning tool. Currently, I also created a mosaic on top of a 16' x 5' conference table.
The "Salvaged Comic & CD Bench," speaks to the various aspects of media consumerism including: low tech vs high tech media; entertainment media; media valuations; obsolete media; disposable media; media sustainability; toxic media. (CD and DVD plastic is toxic to landfills.)
I spoke with one of the project managers regarding the progress I’m making with the art benches. She remarked about how the board was intrigued and pleased by my retro/nostalgic point of view; especially since they had considered installing a completely digital installation. As we talked more, she related a story about witnessing a toddler pressing on a book cover, as if it were an iPad. We both recognized how in several years, many kids will have not seen a CD or DVD either.
For the "Farm & Food" bench, I used pages torn from various free Hudson Valley food and wine magazines, along with brown paper bags from the local farmers market. In my view, the beautiful food and farming photography made for an evocative sustainability message: Hands digging into clean earth, make for good eating.
My intention with the “Leaf Benches” is to help facilitate discussions revolving around the organic nature of the recycling process. There is obvious beauty in the life-death-life cycle of Nature. My feeling is, the same could also be said of the things we consume, if we can connect a sense of sacredness to what, and how we throw things into the earth.
Inspired by so much junk. Found a Beatles 45 "I want to Hold Your Hand." It was cracked. Still, I debated on whether to keep it or not. Funny how I sometimes wrestle with keeping things I don’t even want. So, I put it on the bench with Cher’s "Don’t Put it On Me" and Dion’s "Abraham, Martin and John" along with classical sheet music from 1910. Figured not many kids will have seen a record. A twist on plastics recycling.
For the “Salvaged Art & Antique” bench, I took postcards from one of my husband’s old gallery shows and combined them with antique collectors newspaper print. I didn’t snap a side photo of the newspaper…(Will have to do that on site.) Anyway, I felt the visual juxtaposition of art along side all sorts of antique furniture, statues, estate jewelry and paintings could help facilitate discussions regarding meaningful consumerism. After all, art and antiques are the ultimate recyclables.
“Fall Lake Bench," while the trees were in their last days of blazing here in the Shawangunk Mountains. The metal washers became bubbles on an autumn lake.
For the "Butterfly Bench" I incorporated thought provoking imagery related to the sustainability of the earth, wild life and biosphere.
My connection to the cloth is visceral, organic and elementally surprising.
Artists Forum Prom featuring Shelita Birchett Benash (Host).
During my professional acting career in NYC, I worked with talented artist and musician, Amos White. He produced his own arts and entertainment show on cable access. I was one of several hosts on the "Artists Forum" AFTV. Anyone who was living in NYC during the 80s and 90s knows how provocative, cutting edge and outrageous New York public access television was. I am glad to have been a part of that kind of groundbreaking creativity in media.
Copyright © 2014 Shelita Birchett Benash. All Rights Reserved.