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Paintings

This series of paintings were made as a aesthetic exploration of the forms and patterns I developed in my relational metal sculpture works. As with the metal sculptures, they are inspired and are partly a response to Dante's Divine Comedy.

  • A More Perfect Union

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 30"x 30"
  • Ante

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 24”x24”
  • Dis

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 48”x26”
  • Beatrice

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 48”x26”
  • Terremoto,

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 48”x26”
  • Relic

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 48”x26”
  • Paolo

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 48”x26”
  • Francesca

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 48”x26”
  • Bramato

    2014, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 48”x26”
  • Tartoros

    2013, Cast gesso and acrylic on canvas, 40”x50”

Relational metal sculptures

This body of work utilized steel to incorporate kinetic parts and to allow for participation of the viewer with my sculptures. Inspired by examinations of Lygia Clark’s Bichos sculptures from the early 1960s and my history and training as a fabricator, these works integrated personal mediative paintings with the ritualistic nature of metal working to explore imagined futurist/renaissance altar pieces. The contemplative nature of these handmade kinetic objects allows them to serve as batteries of perforative action.

  • Wreath

    detail showing artist interacting with piece
  • Wreath

    2014, Steel, lead, acrylic on panel, 18” X 40” X 6”
  • Poly-triptych

    2014, steel, cast gesso and acrylic on masonite, fully closed view, 65”x14”x14”
  • Wheel II

    014, steel , lead, wood, brass, acrylic on panel, 30”x30”x8”
  • For P and F

    2013, steel, nickel hinge, cast gesso and acrylic on panel, 18"x8"x5"
  • Implode

    detail
  • Implode

    detail
  • Implode

    2014, Steel and acrylic paint, fully closed view, 67”x20”x10"
  • Bug I (for Lygia)

    2014, steel, lead, acrylic paint on panel, 15”x5”x6”
  • In bocca al lupe

    2013, steel, nickel hinge, cast gesso and acrylic on panel, 18"x8"x5"

Accumulations

These works explored binding, joining, and fastening of materials in relation to the vulnerability of body. They emerged to be absurdly tactile and ritualistic accumulations, where methods of knotting, wrapping, and welding often hamper the objects structure, rather than strengthening it. This weakening of the object serves as a metaphor for familial relationships and an investigation between fragility and healing.

  • Set

    2015, OSB, lead, copper, plaster bandages, fibers, steel, 24”x30”x24”
  • Compunction

    detail
  • Compunction

    2015, Wood, steel, natural and synthetic fibers, leather, lead, 28”x10”x 8”
  • Come Si Dice

    2015, Steel, leather, lead, nylon, Masonite, 18”x 10”x 3”
  • Solo(Duet)

    2015, wood, steel, leather, natural and synthetic fibers 48”x30”x40”
  • Amarcord

    detail
  • Amarcord

    2015, Bloodwood, sisal rope, steel, lead, leather, latex, nylon, 40”x30”x6”
  • Heirloom (Ba Fangul)

    2015, Steel, readymade, fibers, 48”x15”x15”
  • 3…2…1…

    2015, wood, steel, synthetic fibers, 18”x 18”x 18”

Camera obscura

Beyond my use of materials to carve and fabricate sculptures that reference the assimilation of flesh, bone, and prosthesis, I am also utilizing projections made with the hand made mirror lens reflex camera obscura- essentially a hand built projector. Building the projector and controlling the projection surface supports a range of multi-dimensional sculptural possibilities. These non-digital projectors allow me to investigate the interplay between machine, body, and space with a ghost-like corporeality. Through this synthesis of material and light, I want to question the intersection of healing, injury, and the reconstructed body through the lens of the impact of war on the human body.

  • Parallel Loss

    detail
  • Parellel Loss

    detail
  • Parallel Loss

    2015, mirror lens reflex camera obscura, object: Steel, lead, wood, leather, nylon straps, plaster, glass, 48”x 48”x18”
  • Shade

    detail showing projection
  • Shade

    detail
  • Shade

    detail
  • Shade

    2015, mirror lens reflex camera obscura, Steel, lead, wood, assorted fibers, glass, 18” X 8” X 40”

Field dressings

Enveloped in a graveyard of oxidized, monumental sculpture parts, the crane’s orange arm bounced under the several thousand-pound weight of the stainless steel legs. Over the roaring of the crane’s diesel engine I guided the operator through the maze of aluminum shells with a combination of yells and hand gestures. The chrome legs hung for a moment between the crane’s boom and the rusty steel of the I-beam cart before slowly touching down. In a rushed moment trying to get back to my fabrication duties, stars burst in front of my eyes as the half-ton cart snuck up behind me and collided with my heel. Leaving me with a torn ligament in my mid-foot and rendering me crutch bound for the next six months.

These works emerged from my experience with injury and the fragility of the body. I sought to create visceral and bodily metaphors of vulnerability.

  • Fracture

    2015, wood, steel, fibers, paper, plaster bandages, shellac, 40” x40”x15”
  • please

    2015, wood, steel, fibers, paper, plaster bandages, shellac, 36”x20”x20”
  • Bound

    2015, Polystyrene, plaster bandages, shellac, sisal rope, 20”x16”x16”
  • Captive

    2015, Polystyrene, shellac, natural and synthetic fibers, steel, plaster bandages, 30”x18”x 8”
  • Dissection

    detail
  • Dissection

    2015, Polystyrene, plaster bandages, shellac, wood stain, natural and synthetic fibers, 36”x14”x12”
  • External Fixation

    2015, Polystyrene, plaster bandages, shellac, lead, steel, 28”x14”x12”
  • Supported

    2015, steel, fibers, plaster bandages, shellac, 50”x30”x20”
  • If you show me yours

    2015, fiberglass bandages, wood, lead, polystyrene, shellac, sisal fibers, steel, 24"x36"x30"

Cuting off the cast

Emerging from the experience of healing my orthopedic injury, I have begun to explore sculpture informed by medicine and surgery. Dealing with my own mobility issues led me to research the history of prosthetics, bringing me to the American Civil War. During an unplanned visit to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland, I encountered a number of photographs of Civil War veteran amputees. Amputation and its repair have become quintessential images of Civil War trauma. As a recent Baltimore transplant, I experienced the Uprising following the death of Freddie Gray, one of the occurrences fueling the current dialogues in the United States identifying racial equality. This historical moment directly reveals wounds left unresolved following the American Civil War. This past spring confronted me with the now historically compounded and unhealed racial wounds in American culture.
My current work explores cultural, political, and racial wounds through the lens of injured bodies. Being informed by images and artifacts of the conflict, my work is currently exploring trauma and our attempt to restore the architecture of the body. Prosthetics’ effort to restore functionality to the damaged body creates a stirring emotional portrait of the damage the war caused and failed to resolve. Historical prosthetics in this American regional and contemporary context function as icons of the difficulty to reunite and heal the American corpus.

  • Missing Pieces

    2015, wood, steel, polystyrene, 30”x 30”x 6”
  • Crutched

    detail
  • Crutched

    2015, wood, polystyrene, plaster bandages, shellac, 40”x36”x10”
  • Sling

    2015, wood, polystyrene, plaster bandages, shellac, steel, nylon, 30”x18”x8”
  • Articulation

    2015, wood and steel, 30”x18”x16”
  • Disparate

    detail
  • Disparate

    2015, wood, polystyrene, plaster bandages, shellac, steel, found object, 40”x18”x 20”
  • Commute

    2015, wood, bed sheet, steel, polystyrene, boots, 72”x36”x 24”

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About Michael

Michael Benevenia is an artist interested in history, optics, and medicine. He attended Mason Gross School of the Arts where he earned his BFA in Visual Art and Art History. He studied various structural plate welding processes at HoHokus School of Trades, and worked for The Sculpture Foundation... more

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