Paul Stephen Benjamin
Paul Stephen Benjamin received his BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his MFA from Georgia State University Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design. Benjamin has had numerous solo and two-person exhibitions, including his most recent exhibition at Georgia State University’s Welch Gallery where he presented his MFA thesis, “Plot and Escape.” He was also recently featured in the group exhibition Five Artists, Five Voices, curated by Angela Nichols at the Hudgens Center for the Arts. Among his awards are the Winnie B. Chandler Fellowship, Diasporal Rhythms Collectors’ Invitational, Hambidge Fellowship, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center Studio Program and the Forward Arts Emerging Artists Award.
In my recently exhibited works, the color black is a signifier and entry point into identity through painting, sculpture and video media. My works are about achieving aesthetic and conceptual success. Using appropriated material, I create works of art that include intentionally chosen paint colors and everyday materials, and I investigate how they are used. I then reposition the appropriated material using concepts informed by identity and history. In my paintings the names of the commercial paints become the titles and are included in the description of the work. When Lowes Valspar New Black 4011-1, Sherwin Williams Well Bred Brown SW7207 and Home Depot BEHR Premium Watermelon 120B-6U are viewed in the context of American and colonial history, the works can take on loaded meanings. My intent is to present these items as an investigation in painting, allowing viewers to form their own opinions based on personal experience and belief.