Paintings by Pat Benincasa
April 3 - May 3, 2013
Kristin Wigley-Fleming Gallery, Center for the Arts
Pat Benincasa is an award-winning artist whose passion for geometry is expressed through her dimensional glass sculptures, paintings and drawings. She earned her BFA at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, and both her MA and MFA degrees from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. She has presented multiple guest lectures including those at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, University of Minnesota School or Architecture and Hamline University. She has taught a six-week class titled Public Art: Redefining Art, Artist and Spectator at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, and currently teaches Orientation to Art and Design and 3D Foundations at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, MN.
Benincasa’s works are in numerous collections, including the Boston Public Library, Boston, MA and General Services Administration South Field Office, Kansas City, MO. Her work is also part of collections in New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas. Benincasa is included in the Regional Women’s Archive at South Dakota State University in Brooking, SD. Her work was has been received with international recognition. Major works for her include: Falling Water Skylight in the Minnesota Judicial Center, Moon Boat and Night Sky Glass at the Ward Parkway, and her sacred window for the Hill-Murray Chapel in Maplewood, MN.
“To progress is always to begin again.” Martin Luther in his Commentary On Romans provides a frame of reference for my exhibit, Circle + Rust about the American Rust Belt Cities.
My paintings are made from industrial materials and city maps –the geometry, pattern and layout of these maps are about place as future memory. The exhibit’s main focus consists of large paintings of cities: Detroit, Gary, Youngstown, Akron and Flint. Maps tell stories and these tactile cartographic paintings have much to say.
The second part of the exhibit is made from “recollections.” “Recollections” are small sheet metal paintings of individual mills, blast furnaces and factories that have been closed or demolished. The images are painted like the industrial memories they have become. They are places located in the minds’ eye and reside in what is remembered.
Place holds both collective and private memory about the nature of industrial work on people, the environment and community. Whether the land itself holds memory or there is residual energy from those who were here before us, it is necessary that we honor the work that helped define its locale.
It is also necessary to redefine post-industrial work, urban shrinkage and environmental stewardship in the sense of Luther's words, “that progress is always to begin again.” Rust Belt cities are no longer identified with what they produce, so how do we move toward a positive civic identity? The decline of these once-great manufacturing hubs is not a fait accompli. Instead, they are urban centers, rich in history and inventiveness that will "begin again" because the relationship between who we are as a people and the work we do defines quality of place. My premise is that the Rust Belt Cities may be where future meets the past because with decline, the void is undefined space waiting for possibility.