Very Serious Play: A Conversation with Jess Benjamin
by Kim Carpenter
Nebraska-born sculptor Jess Benjamin creates work with an austere sen -
sibility and eloquent narrative that is inextricably tied to the land-
more specifically to the water-of her home state. The daughter of a
rancher, she earned her BFA in ceramics from Hastings College before
working as a studio assistant for Jun Kaneko and then earning an MFA
under John Balistreri and Joseph Pintz at Bowling Green State University.
Though many artists tackle the issue of climate change, Benjamin
does so with a quiet authority devoid of stridency and sentimentality.
Her intensely personal sculptures depict the accelerating depletion of
water in a way that relies on scientific documentation as well as poetic
interpretation. Her subjects often center around things that people
either do not or should not see: invisible water molecules combine to
form a depleted aquifer, and eroded jackstone-faced earthen dams that
should remain underwater are exposed in drought conditions. The
objects we do see and know well-water faucets, pumps, and buckets-
take on ominously exaggerated sizes to remind us of how much water
is consumed on a daily basis
...see the entire article in the print version of January/February's Sculpture magazine.