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Joseph Bennett’s “Traveling Mercies”

By Anne Campbell

Tarnished miniature glass bottles, old cases with a patina that only Father Time could patiently craft, antique photographs that have somehow found themselves in the company of other lost things: This is a glimpse of what awaits in the current exhibition at the Studio Space, “Traveling Mercies,” an exciting solo show of 40 original works by assemblage artist Joseph Bennett.

Art opening
“Traveling Mercies”
Fri and Sat, Jan 20 and 21, 5–9pm
The Studio Space
Camino al Caracol 11
Free
Raffle tickets 100 pesos
Assemblage art workshop accompanies the exhibition on Sun, Jan 29
bennett.com
415 103 8027

To view Joseph’s assemblage art is to be invited into miniature stories hidden within the dramatic juxtaposition of found objects the artist creates. A vintage Memphis suitcase—opened to display a well-worn shoe, a rusty tin can, a plaster doll’s leg, an old lock without a key. Last month I had a chance to visit with Joseph and to have a conversation about his work.

Anne Campbell: Your work is almost theatrical. What inspired this year’s show, “Traveling Mercies?”

Joseph Bennett: My art is created from found objects collected in my travels. This year I’ve been inspired to work with vintage suitcases. Specific objects I discover encapsulate someone’s memory. Why was this particular thing discarded? Was it because of someone’s death, loss of interest, or was it simply lost and never found? Each object has a story we’ll never know. And then there’s the new story created by placing them in relation to each other.

AC: Why did you choose this art form?

JB: I create assemblage art because it fascinates me, and also as a testament to how much we consume as a society and how much we throw away. I’m passionate about creating art, rather than growing the landfill. And I love the challenge of finding a permanent home for things nobody cared about. From being worthless to suddenly being under the spotlight as art, being admired, surrounded by other lost, beautiful things: one discarded kitchen drawer with a perfect patina, pierced with rusty nails, and a shred of cotton from the fields of Ireland. Suddenly a unique dramatic piece is born.

AC: How does your background in interior design inform you?

JB: It’s all about placement, right? Composition, balance, materials; I work in large boxes called houses. And in these small old boxes, I can let myself dream. Some people select artwork to match a décor element, color, or style. This particular art form is for collectors who appreciate the rarity of the medium, the story, and the diverse materials involved; or simply the beauty of the piece. I find them to be beautiful, my heart sings during the process, and I love getting lost in it all.

AC: Is there anything else about this exhibition that you’d like our readers to know?

JB: I try to create very interactive events for our guests. This year we’re offering a “treasure hunt” for viewers to participate in, complete with prizes for those that find all the objects. Also, the ever-popular raffle of one of my original assemblages will be offered online at artbybennett.com and at the show, and lastly, guests will have a chance to vote for their favorite piece in the show. This simple exercise leads to discussions among the guests about what they voted for and why. All in all, “Traveling Mercies” promises to be very engaging and a lot of fun!

 

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