Open house with Bemis’ artists-in-residence
November 16th, 2011
Omaha, NE – The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts will host an open house this week for art-lovers to talk to artists-in-residence.
â€œThese are paintings Iâ€™ve been working on since Iâ€™ve got to the Bemis Centerâ€¦â€ Erik Benson is one of the Bemisâ€™ 12 artists-in-residence currently working and living in the studio downtown. Heâ€™s standing in the center of the room, surrounded by several large canvas paintings laid out against the whitewashed walls, as light streams through windows that overlook the city.
Heâ€™s hoping to have at least two of the paintings finished before Thursdayâ€™s open house.
â€œUsually it takes me about three months to do a painting,â€ he said. â€œSo this is kind of like a process on steroids here.â€
Benson said heâ€™s getting some help from an assistant provided by the Bemis. â€œSo Iâ€™ve been sort of letting go of a little bit of my control to have him work on that too. Heâ€™s doing a great job,â€ he laughed.
Benson grew up in Minneapolis, and is now living in New York. He received his Masterâ€™s degree at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001, and has been a full-time artist for the last three years. Now, heâ€™s in the middle of his residency at the Bemis, a program which provides stipends and studio space to talented artists so they can devote their full attention to their work.
Benson said itâ€™s a new experience for him to live in the space heâ€™s working in. â€œI have a separate live-work space back in Brooklyn, and that gives me a little bit of head space to decompress,â€ he said. â€œHere itâ€™s a little more difficult to do that, because right when you wake up, thereâ€™s your work. Itâ€™s good in one way because Iâ€™m really enjoying getting into it right away. But itâ€™s also kind of hard to leave it at the door too.â€
Each of Bensonâ€™s paintings is painstakingly put together. He first paints sheets of glass with acrylic, then cuts those out and sets them on the canvas to form a layered painting. One of his pieces shows a playground in front of a city building and has a three-dimensional quality that makes it feel like youâ€™re falling in.
â€œA lot of the work comes out of painting as a medium and seeing things,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m attracted to a lot of things in the urban landscape that have a temporality to them or plasticity, such as these construction sites or playgrounds, and these things that look very set upon the actual environment that theyâ€™re in, rather than kind of growing out of that architecture.â€
Omaha can talk to Erik Benson about his work, and that of 11 other artists from all over the world, Thursday, Nov. 17 from 6-8pm at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Artâ€™s Open Studios.
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