"I experience a deep sense of openness and honesty within the diligence of repetition."  ~Shelita Birchett Benash

 
 ©Shelita Birchett Benash   Offering IV work in progress. Wrapping the offering is a long process that for me, is meditative. Working with recycled materials is humbling in how one must wade through the refuse. One day, someone came into the junkyard with a bucket full of brass dragonflies. Where did they come from? What were they used for? None of that mattered anymore because in that moment, I felt the beauty and  significance of the dragonfly. There are times when I can feel the universe conspiring with me to do my work.      Universally, the dragonfly is symbolic of transformation.  My Offering series centers upon death, grief and mourning. We mourn those whom we lose. However, at some point in our grief, we must come to terms with the glory of our loved one's beautiful transformation, as they become one with creation.

©Shelita Birchett Benash

Offering IV work in progress. Wrapping the offering is a long process that for me, is meditative. Working with recycled materials is humbling in how one must wade through the refuse. One day, someone came into the junkyard with a bucket full of brass dragonflies. Where did they come from? What were they used for? None of that mattered anymore because in that moment, I felt the beauty and  significance of the dragonfly. There are times when I can feel the universe conspiring with me to do my work.  

Universally, the dragonfly is symbolic of transformation.  My Offering series centers upon death, grief and mourning. We mourn those whom we lose. However, at some point in our grief, we must come to terms with the glory of our loved one's beautiful transformation, as they become one with creation.

OFFERING_IV_SHELITA BIRCHETT BENASH_2017_WORK IN PRGRESS

 

   HOLY COW !   RECYCLED   ART-GLASS MOSAIC SCULPTURE BY SHELITA BIRCHETT BENASH

HOLY COW!  RECYCLED ART-GLASS MOSAIC SCULPTURE BY 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. 

HOLY COW MOSAIC SCULPTURE BY SHELITA BIRCHETT BENASH

LINCROFT: A BIG (AND LITTLE) ART HAPPENING

REDBANKGREEN.COM

Click on the link above for the exhibition article. 

 

 

 

 


 

 ©Photograph by Shelita Birchett Benash  Handmade wood fired ceramic tile. Work in progress. One of 200 ceramic tiles that were fired at Tony Moore's April wood firing. Several thousand more to go! I'm working on a large scale handmade ceramic tile project. Looking forward to many, many more wood firings, gas reduction and alternative firings...The beauty lives within the process...patience...Gratitude.    Check out my blog for more about the April wood firing at Tony Moore's anagama/ noriborigama Japanese style kiln in Coldspring, NY. 

©Photograph by Shelita Birchett Benash

Handmade wood fired ceramic tile. Work in progress. One of 200 ceramic tiles that were fired at Tony Moore's April wood firing. Several thousand more to go! I'm working on a large scale handmade ceramic tile project. Looking forward to many, many more wood firings, gas reduction and alternative firings...The beauty lives within the process...patience...Gratitude.  

Check out my blog for more about the April wood firing at Tony Moore's anagama/ noriborigama Japanese style kiln in Coldspring, NY. 


 

 ©Shelita Birchett Benash

©Shelita Birchett Benash

HONORED AND EXCITED TO HAVE MY CERAMIC MIXED MEDIA SCULPTURE OFFERING III SELECTED FOR THIS DISTINGUISHED EXHIBITION.

 NOR'EASTER: 

THE 47TH ANNUAL JURIED MEMBERS EXHIBITION

JUROR: SARAH FRITCHEY

NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

APRIL 29, 2017-MAY 28, 2017

STITZER FAMILY GALLERY


 
 ©Offering III High-fire ceramic mixed media sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2015. 

©Offering III High-fire ceramic mixed media sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2015. 


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

http://www.barrettartcenter.org


 

 
Dinosaurs Rule! Stamford Downtown Art in public Places Starosaurus glass mirror and stained glass mosaic by Shelita Birchett Benash 2015 Stegosaurus

"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. 

via YouTube Capture


 

Please Touch Postcard, Final.indd
 
Please Touch Sculpture Exhibition at Monmouth Museum Featuring Lisa Hirkaler: Mixed Media Fiber Sculpture Kevan Lunney: Mixed Media Fiber Sculpture Erik Johansen: Sculpture Shelita Birchett Benash: Ceramic Mixed Media Sculpture Produced by Jere Edmonds and 5ONTHEGO Productions

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. 

 "HELIOS HORSE" (LEFT) MIXED MEDIA MOSAIC ON FIBERGLASS BY SHELITA BIRCHETT BENASH OPENING RECEPTION JUNE 28, 2015  "CONJURE" (RIGHT) HIGH FIRE CERAMIC MIXED MEDIA MOSAIC SCULPTURE BY SHELITA BIRCHETT BENASH WITH RECYCLED ART TABLE BY RICHARD BENASH 

"HELIOS HORSE" (LEFT) MIXED MEDIA MOSAIC ON FIBERGLASS BY SHELITA BIRCHETT BENASH OPENING RECEPTION JUNE 28, 2015

"CONJURE" (RIGHT) HIGH FIRE CERAMIC MIXED MEDIA MOSAIC SCULPTURE BY SHELITA BIRCHETT BENASH WITH RECYCLED ART TABLE BY RICHARD BENASH 

via YouTube Capture

 

MONMOUTHMUSEUM.ORG

CLICK THE LINE ABOVE TO VISIT THE MONMOUTH MUSEUM WEBSITE FOR EXHIBITION INFORMATION.

Museum Statement:

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

 

HOLY COW!

  MOSAIC SCULPTURE WIP. 

 MOSAIC SCULPTURE WIP. 

HOLY COW_SHELITA BIRCHETT BENASH_2015_FRONT_DETAIL

via YouTube Capture


 

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.

Collaborative Concepts at Saunders Farm Project 2015 Map_Shelita Birchett Benash_Richard Benash
 

The Offering Series


Use your pain; do not be used by it.
— Aitken, 1978, p. 24

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. 

 
 
 Excited to have work juried into the  Women of Vision  upcoming exhibition. Looking forward to learning and sharing with the vibrant creative WOV circle. 

Excited to have work juried into the Women of Vision upcoming exhibition. Looking forward to learning and sharing with the vibrant creative WOV circle. 


The Offering” ceramic mixed media sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2014. 

Women of Visions “Storytellers: Truth be Told!” exhibition. 

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

Pittsburgh, PA

November 21-February 1, 2015


JURORS:

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).

 

 
 Wrapping "The Offering." Work in Progress. 

Wrapping "The Offering." Work in Progress. 

  "The Offering" ceramic mixed media meditational sculpture. Work in Progress. 2014.

"The Offering" ceramic mixed media meditational sculpture. Work in Progress. 2014.


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.


  Hand formed ceramic prayer beads. A sculptural form I am compelled to explore for a lifetime...I feel it. 

Hand formed ceramic prayer beads. A sculptural form I am compelled to explore for a lifetime...I feel it. 

Prayer Beads 2015 by Shelita Birchett Benash
Prayer Beads 2015 by Shelita Birchett Benash 2
"The Offering III" " Ceramic mixed media sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2015.

Offering_IV_Shelita Birchett Benash_2015
 Offering IV WIP. High fire ceramic  mixed media sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2015.

Offering IV WIP. High fire ceramic  mixed media sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2015.

 OFFERING IV WIP. The wrapping. 

OFFERING IV WIP. The wrapping. 


Out of Bounds: Freedom of Expression Exhibition 2015 Blue Door Gallery Yonkers, NY, Curated by Shelita Birchett Benash

"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).



  I certainly feel encouraged. 

I certainly feel encouraged. 

 Handmade stoneware and porcelain ceramic tile, slate, 24 KT smalti, salvaged steel on welded salvaged steel substrate. 2014. 60LB. Side A.  21"H x 14"W x 9"D. 

Handmade stoneware and porcelain ceramic tile, slate, 24 KT smalti, salvaged steel on welded salvaged steel substrate. 2014. 60LB. Side A.  21"H x 14"W x 9"D. 

 "Conjure" Ceramic mixed media mosaic Side B by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2014. Side B.   21"H x 14"W x 9"D. 60 LB.   Ceramic,  stone, 24 KT gold smalti, and salvaged steel. 

"Conjure" Ceramic mixed media mosaic Side B by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2014. Side B. 

21"H x 14"W x 9"D. 60 LB. 

Ceramic,  stone, 24 KT gold smalti, and salvaged steel. 

 "Conjure" Ceramic mixed media mosaic Side A  by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2014.  Side A detail.   Ceramic, 24 kt gold smalti, stone, salvaged steel. 

"Conjure" Ceramic mixed media mosaic Side A  by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2014.  Side A detail. 

Ceramic, 24 kt gold smalti, stone, salvaged steel. 

"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

 "Flower Power!" 


SOLD!

  October 8, 2014. "Street Seats" Stamford Downtown auction. I also saw former clients that commissioned me to make "Chloe" the mirror mosaic cat. They want to commission me to  make a glass mirror mosaic bench for them. I am very excited. 

October 8, 2014. "Street Seats" Stamford Downtown auction. I also saw former clients that commissioned me to make "Chloe" the mirror mosaic cat. They want to commission me to  make a glass mirror mosaic bench for them. I am very excited. 

 

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! 

 "Flower Power" Hand cut glass mirror flower mosaic bench up-cycle by Shelita Birchett Benash. Work in progress. 5/6/14.

"Flower Power" Hand cut glass mirror flower mosaic bench up-cycle by Shelita Birchett Benash. Work in progress. 5/6/14.

"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).

Stamford Downtown "Street Seats" Work in Progress by Shelita Birchett Benashamford Downtown "Street Seats" Work in Progress by Shelita Birchett Benash
 "Flower Power" glass mirror mosaicked bench drop-off in Stamford, CT. 

"Flower Power" glass mirror mosaicked bench drop-off in Stamford, CT. 

"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! 

  My "Flower Power!" mixed media glass mirror mosaicked bench was chosen to be featured on the Stamford Downtown "A Grand Summer Night" invitation.  The "Street Seats" will be auctioned off for charity on August 13, 2014. I am honored. The level of talent and artistry on display in this show is impressive. 

My "Flower Power!" mixed media glass mirror mosaicked bench was chosen to be featured on the Stamford Downtown "A Grand Summer Night" invitation.  The "Street Seats" will be auctioned off for charity on August 13, 2014. I am honored. The level of talent and artistry on display in this show is impressive. 

Stamford Downtown "Street Seats" A Grand Summer Night Auction

Public Art

  Egyptian Sun glyph. The Sun symbol is pure spirit with the dot of consciousness in the center. This is the symbol I chose for the international mosaic mural project. 

Egyptian Sun glyph. The Sun symbol is pure spirit with the dot of consciousness in the center. This is the symbol I chose for the international mosaic mural project. 

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! 

Signs_International Mosaic Mural Project_Caroline Jung_2015_Shelita Birchett Benash_Participating Artist

 

LARGE SCALE MOSAIC COMMISSION

 WESTCHESTER MATERIALS RECOVERY FACILITY

YONKERS, NY


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. 



Shelita Birchett Benash Mosaic
Shelita Birchett Benash Mosaic
  4/5/14. Sealed the mosaic with 3 coats of sealant. THE END.     Unbelievable journey. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment.  So proud of this work. Happy to know it will be enjoyed and of use. So happy. 

4/5/14. Sealed the mosaic with 3 coats of sealant. THE END. 

Unbelievable journey. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment.  So proud of this work. Happy to know it will be enjoyed and of use. So happy. 

Shelita Birchett Benash Mosaic
  I really want a photograph of the whole table. Duncan, the videographer is going to attempt to take a panoramic photo. We'll see. 

I really want a photograph of the whole table. Duncan, the videographer is going to attempt to take a panoramic photo. We'll see. 

Shelita Birchett Benash Mosaic
  I  'm flower crazy just in time for spring! Will continue this concept within the mixed media mosaic I'm planning for the scrap yard fence line mural. I want Richard to cut out giant sunflowers that I will mosaic too. Very excited for what the new mural will bring to the community. 

I'm flower crazy just in time for spring! Will continue this concept within the mixed media mosaic I'm planning for the scrap yard fence line mural. I want Richard to cut out giant sunflowers that I will mosaic too. Very excited for what the new mural will bring to the community. 

  Mosaic conference table up-cycle comission work in progress. Grouting the edges. Will soon be done! 16' x 5'. 3/29/14.

Mosaic conference table up-cycle comission work in progress. Grouting the edges. Will soon be done! 16' x 5'. 3/29/14.

 The mosaic grout will cure for 5 days, then onto sealing.

The mosaic grout will cure for 5 days, then onto sealing.

 Working on this large mosaic has unleashed something inside me. I've decided to mosaic the outside of my studio barn this spring. I loved cutting those flowers...I will continue the same theme for my studio. 

Working on this large mosaic has unleashed something inside me. I've decided to mosaic the outside of my studio barn this spring. I loved cutting those flowers...I will continue the same theme for my studio. 

 the Westchester Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) conference room BEFORE. 

the Westchester Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) conference room BEFORE. 


Meditational Sculpture

 "The Offering: Loss"  Mixed media ceramic series: Handmade stoneware ceramic sculptural beads,  salvaged wood, metal, leather, fibre by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

"The Offering: Loss"  Mixed media ceramic series: Handmade stoneware ceramic sculptural beads,  salvaged wood, metal, leather, fibre by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

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. 


DSCN4966

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

Age Vessel by Shelita Benash1.jpg
Age vessel by Shelita Benash 3.jpg
Age Vessel by Shelita Benash 5.jpg
Experience Vessel by Shelita Benash 4.jpg
Experience Vessel by Shelita Benash 2.jpg
Experience Vessel by Shelita Benash 3.jpg

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.


“Beyond dualism, every object—-by whomever or in whatever manner it is made—-finds salvation.”
— Soetsu Yanagi, Unknown Craftsman, p.130
  "What We Hold:" Hand built stoneware pot by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2013.   So much is wrong with this pot.  Still, through the fire it went. There is something to be said for that. This pot with all its imperfections and damage stands a metaphor for life; a record of  contention. Donna's cancer diagnosis influenced much of my work during those months.  The clay accepted my struggle. It lives there in the pot. As with reincarnation; I will revisit this pot. I want to make it better. 

"What We Hold:" Hand built stoneware pot by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2013.

So much is wrong with this pot.  Still, through the fire it went. There is something to be said for that. This pot with all its imperfections and damage stands a metaphor for life; a record of  contention. Donna's cancer diagnosis influenced much of my work during those months.  The clay accepted my struggle. It lives there in the pot. As with reincarnation; I will revisit this pot. I want to make it better. 

  Hand built stoneware pot by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2013. 

Hand built stoneware pot by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2013. 

Word Pot by Shelita Benash5.jpg

Fortitude Clay Failure 2 by S. Benash.jpg

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.

 "Salvaged Comics & CD's Bench" Assemblage by Shelita Birchett Benash

"Salvaged Comics & CD's Bench" Assemblage by Shelita Birchett Benash

 "CD Bench Detail" by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

"CD Bench Detail" by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

 "CD Bench Detail" by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

"CD Bench Detail" by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

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. 

 "Farm & Food Bench," Salvaged paper assemblage by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

"Farm & Food Bench," Salvaged paper assemblage by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

 

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.

DSCN2600.JPG
MRF Benches Before.jpg
MRF Leaf Bench 3 by S. Benash.jpg

 

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. 

MRF leaf Bench by Shelita Benash.jpg
IMG_1045.jpg
Recycled Art Bench by Shelita Benash
 "Salvaged Sheet Music and Record Bench" 

"Salvaged Sheet Music and Record Bench" 

 

 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. 

DSCN2622.JPG

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.

 'Salvaged Art & Antique Bench" Salvaged postcards and newspaper print collage by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013. 

'Salvaged Art & Antique Bench" Salvaged postcards and newspaper print collage by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013. 

 Recycled art bench, "Fall Lake." Paper and metal washers collage by Shelita Birchett Benash.  2013.

Recycled art bench, "Fall Lake." Paper and metal washers collage by Shelita Birchett Benash.  2013.

 After sanding, Richard helps with packing the benches for transport to the MRF.

After sanding, Richard helps with packing the benches for transport to the MRF.

DSCN2713.JPG

“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. 

DSCN2564.JPG
 "Butterfly Bench." Salvaged paper and metal collage by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

"Butterfly Bench." Salvaged paper and metal collage by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2013.

Bench Butterfly detail by Shelita Benash.jpg

For the "Butterfly Bench" I  incorporated thought provoking imagery related to the sustainability of the earth, wild life and biosphere. 

 

Bench Butterfly detail4 by Shelita Benash.jpg

Public Art

 "InCatdescent Zeus"  Handcut glass mirror mosaic by Shelita Birchett Benash. Stamford Downtown Art in Public Places, 2010.

"InCatdescent Zeus"  Handcut glass mirror mosaic by Shelita Birchett Benash. Stamford Downtown Art in Public Places, 2010.


 "Chloe" Hand cut glass mirror mosaic by Shelita Birchett Benash. 5'H x 2.5W x 4'L. 2011. 

"Chloe" Hand cut glass mirror mosaic by Shelita Birchett Benash. 5'H x 2.5W x 4'L. 2011. 

Shelita Birchett Benash Mosaic Work in Progress
 "InCatdescent Zeus" Hand cut glass mirror mosaic cat sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash. 5'H x 2.5'W x 4'L, 2010. Stamford Downtown Art in Public Places. "It's Reigning Cats and Dogs" 

"InCatdescent Zeus" Hand cut glass mirror mosaic cat sculpture by Shelita Birchett Benash. 5'H x 2.5'W x 4'L, 2010. Stamford Downtown Art in Public Places. "It's Reigning Cats and Dogs" 



  "Helios Horse" Salvaged metal mixed media mosaic by Shelita Birchett Benash.     Salvaged metal and computer wire. His bridal is made of salvaged security guard badges. His chain mail blanket consists of metal can tabs.    "Helios Horse" was featured as part of the Stamford Downtown Art in Public Spaces exhibition. Stamford, CT, 2012. My sculpture was vandalized during the summer, so I had to bring him home for repairs. 

"Helios Horse" Salvaged metal mixed media mosaic by Shelita Birchett Benash. 

Salvaged metal and computer wire. His bridal is made of salvaged security guard badges. His chain mail blanket consists of metal can tabs.

"Helios Horse" was featured as part of the Stamford Downtown Art in Public Spaces exhibition. Stamford, CT, 2012. My sculpture was vandalized during the summer, so I had to bring him home for repairs. 

DSCN0930.JPG
DSCN0900.jpg

Art Quilts

My connection to the cloth is visceral, organic and elementally surprising.


 "First Winter in Beacon:" Salvaged upholstery fabric and silk by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2004. 

"First Winter in Beacon:" Salvaged upholstery fabric and silk by Shelita Birchett Benash, 2004. 

 "Bramble:" Bamboo, silk, copper and organic fibre. Handwoven on floor loom. Hand tied and stitched by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2007. 36"x118". 2007.

"Bramble:" Bamboo, silk, copper and organic fibre. Handwoven on floor loom. Hand tied and stitched by Shelita Birchett Benash. 2007. 36"x118". 2007.

 "Bramble" Detail. 

"Bramble" Detail. 

070824_9003.jpg
 "Sphinx:" Bamboo yarn, silk copper, fresh water pearls and organic fibre. Hand woven on floor loom. 2007. 

"Sphinx:" Bamboo yarn, silk copper, fresh water pearls and organic fibre. Hand woven on floor loom. 2007. 

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.