LAURA BENJAMIN

Artist

Bio

I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts (1967) from the American University in Washington D.C. and in 1972, a Master’s Degree in Art Education from New York University. In 1983, I received an Associate’s Degree in Textile Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. In New York I also studied at The Art Student’s League, The Parson’s School of Design. In the mid 1990’s, I studied computer graphics at The New School.

Living and working in New York, I taught art in the middle school for 34 years. While on sabbatical from teaching art, I studied textile design. For the next 15 years I continued to teach, as well as freelance as a textile designer in both home furnishings and the apparel markets.

In the mid 90’s my focus turned towards computer graphics, and as an art educator, I incorporated this into my curriculum. I was awarded for a “successful practice in crossing the digital divide through art and technology” by the United States Department of Education.

My early works were oils and acrylics. During the late 60’s my interest was in pure abstraction. Pop Art and the human figure began to interest me in the early 70’s. Gradually, I was drawn to experimenting with mixed media. In the 80’s there was the influence of a career in textile design that moved me towards a more decorative style. In the 90’s, I became involved in the teaching of computer graphics. This was to have a profound influence in aiding and developing a more recent “POP” style. I began to incorporate into my paintings, torn pieces of digital printouts of my subjects.

The part of me that is the “digital artist” became very inspired by the use of the computer as a tool with which I could manipulate my subject and its color energy. The “fine artist” in me was then able to incorporate these concepts into a new image on my canvas.

Artist’s Statement

I have been both an artist and an art educator for 50 years. I have earned graduate degrees in Fine Arts, Art Education, and Textile Design. Over 5 decades, I was most influenced by the POP ART movement. Having always had an interest in mixed media, my current work is now a combination of both POP and Collage. Since 2008 I have been creating a body of work dubbed “Candy Wrapper Collage”.

A juried show’s theme, “gluttony”, challenged me to ultimately explore my POP figures through a new medium….candy wrappers! By 2008, what followed was……Razor blades are my new paint brushes and candy wrappers are my new paints.  Utilizing torn, cut and expired candy wrappers and their packaging, I render my subjects in diverse and colorful forms. I create representational images of celebrities and pop-culture objects. The wrappers are manipulated to give color, form, movement and whimsy to the subjects, creating both a carnal delight and an exciting visual effect.

My work is inspired by the sensual delight of sweets. The physical wrappers serve the colors of the pieces as well as using the candy names to comment on the subject they are portraying. The result that I aim for is a nuanced iconography that is visually energizing, provocative and humorous.