ARTIST STATEMENT SCULPTOR, MASK MAKER PERFORMER & PRINTMAKER
I believe that the purpose of art is to explore humanity and that art comes alive when it relates to our lives, my art draws on multicultural themes and engages participation. Developed as a bridge between cultures, it led me into diverse themes steeped in myth, ritual, and archetype. I created over 600 metal sculptured masks and have performed with them throughout the world (thus far in 29 countries). By studying the myths and mask-work of eastern and western cultures, I continue to infuse my art with this timeless material.
As a performance artist, my repertoire of mask and story performances also explores myth, history, literature and legend. During my world travels and in the States, I presented hundreds of performances and led comparable workshops and classes in contemporary masking.
Beyond mask and metal, I work in mixed media and printmaking. For example, my Secret Future Works are mixed media sculptures with locked interiors that open in the future. The unseen, presented within the context of art, encourages us to examine our personal and global futures. The first of now 19 such art works, created in 1989, was opened by its patron in 1995. The Jewish Heritage the SFW hidden messages were read at the National Jewish Museum, Washington DC in 1998. Other works will be opened in years to come. Secret Works created in India, Bangladesh, Ireland, Kenya, Tanzania, England, Bosnia, Spain, and in the States have messages locked inside that were given to me by people of these countries. These address their future hopes and dreams.
As a printmaker, my monoprints (one-of-a-kind prints) use the collage technique, chine colle (glued paper). The colle papers are hand-made, pre-inked and hand-painted. Collagraphic printing plates emboss a complex texture onto the prints. The plates are inked individually for each print. The images and colle papers are laid onto the plate and adhere to the printmaking paper as the plate and paper are run through the etching press. Series have been drawn from Indian & Turkish miniature painting; South Asian Folk Art; Korean Lore & Legend; Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts; Medieval Manuscripts; The Renaissance; Russian Icons; Greek mythology; 19th Century Women Writers, Educators & Feminist Activists; Africa & Afro-Americans; and Native American history.
Suzanne Benton multi disciplined artwork has been featured in over 150 solo shows and is represented in museum and private collections worldwide. Author of The Art of Welded Sculpture and numerous articles, she is listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who of American Artists, and International Who's Who of Business and Professional Women. In 1992-93, Benton again traveled the world. She began her 10 month journey in India as a Fulbright Scholar, then went to The Guthrie Center, Ireland. In East Africa, she was a Thanks be to Grandmother Winifred grantee. During that journey, she created metal masks, mask tales, monoprints, drawings, and Secret Future Works, also teaching at the universities and art centers that hosted her. In 1994-1995, she worked similarly in Bulgaria, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan through grants from the United States Information Services. She has since led mask and story work with women and youth in Sarajevo and Zenica, Bosnia; and been an artist-in-residence at Fundacion Valparaiso, Spain, and at Harvard University. Benton curated the 1999 exhibit, Facing East: Asian Masks at the Hammond Museum, North Salem, NY. During a 1998 artist residency at Weir Farm (Trust), a National Historic Site in Wilton, CT, she began what continues as a series of land and sea paintings. Founder and artistic and managing director of Positive Power, she has developed forums and exhibitions that highlight women artists and their work. In 2003, she had a 40-year retrospective exhibition, "Spirit of Hope" at the Silvermine Guild of Art, New Canaan, CT, and in 2005, a 50-year retrospective, "Face and Figure" at the Queens College Art Center, Queens College CUNY.
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