Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio
Featured Work: Looking at Life Through Rose Colored Glasses
Describe your featured work
A couple of years ago I was struggling with the question of why I was making what I was making. At that time, I was doing large-scale, formal work. While I enjoyed making those kinds of pieces, I was concerned the public would not get anything from interacting with them. I would ask myself, “What are they getting from it? Are you telling them something of great concern? Are you sharing your heart with them?” The answer was, unfortunately, no. I really wanted my work to have a purpose, to say something meaningful. This piece was pivotal during that whole process of determining what I wanted to make and, more importantly, what I wanted to say. I found myself caring more about what was happening around me and in the news, not only nationally but also internationally. My art was changing me. At the core of this turning point was my faith, and this piece speaks to that. The title, Looking at Life Through Rose Colored Glasses, explains how the act of communion and the remembrance of what Christ did for me allows me to see the world in a new light, that of love and compassion. I try to bring that into every aspect of my life, including my studio practice.
My work serves a purpose. My studio is where I navigate current happenings, personal beliefs, and anthropological perspectives, while allowing myself to concentrate on the ones that grip my attention. I toil over aspects of life and society that are concerning, meaningful, or just overwhelming. I want to give the viewer an opportunity to grapple with these ideas as well. My work is the conduit through which I raise awareness and evoke empathy towards people and events. As an artist, I want to speak and, ultimately, I want my art to declare that I stand for something, that I stood up for someone, and that I enabled others’ voices to be heard.
What are you making now?
I am currently installing two large pieces at the Springfield Museum of Art. Each of the works deals with the Syrian refugee crisis. One of them, Among the Perishing, consists of over 30,000 individual yards of thread. Each thread hanging in the gallery represents one of the more than 30,000 refugees who have died in their pursuit of freedom. The other piece, God Help Us All, consists of an exact replica of a tent used in a refugee camp. This tent is enclosed by an eight-foot-tall chainlink fence. It describes the situation that all nations must grapple with during this time of refugee crises. These pieces are not only my plea for others to think about, ponder, and care for their fellow neighbors, but also a means to show my own love and care.
Why do you belong to CIVA?
It is vital for artists to belong to a community and even more so for Christian artists. CIVA is that community for me. Though I have not been a member long, I am very much looking forward to the relationships I will build with fellow artists who are seeking to not only push their work but to grow in their faith. We need each other, and CIVA gives that to us.
Zac Benson is an artist who has shown in Taiwan, Bulgaria, and throughout the United States. He has also had public commissions in Australia, California, Washington, D.C., and New York. His gallery work considers the relationship between his faith and his engagement with society while his public sculptures deal with the traditional relationship of scale and form. He graduated with his B.F.A. in sculpture from The University of Tennessee in 2011 and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from The University of Maryland in 2017. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Studio Art at Cedarville University.