Girl With A Peal Earring
“Girl with a Pearl”
Monoprint with Chine collé
41 x 43 inches
Alive in Art
"Alive in Art"
Monoprint with Chine collé
28 x 23 inches
Monoprint with Chine-collé
21 x 17 inches
Monoprint with Chine-collé
25 x 29 inches
Monoprint with Chine-collé
38 x 30 inches
The Reader
"The Reader"
Monoprint with Chine-collé
29 x 25 inches
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Bio Synopsis

In 1951, at only 15, Suzanne Benton studied at the Art Students League under Ernest Feine. It was in 1956 when she was completing her BA in Fine Arts at Queens College BA that she first became aware of the oppressive legal limits on women’s lives. Her own experiences with injustice and humiliation “pierced my every cell, and I’d soon become a fierce feminist,” she says. She later joined the National Organization for Women (NOW) when it was founded in 1966, and Betty Friedan soon asked her to join her inner circle. While she couldn’t accept forgoing her commitment to art and her family, she remained a dedicated feminist activist, and during the early 1970s was Chairperson of the Women in the Arts National Task Force for NOW and founding member of the Connecticut Women’s Caucus for Art. She is featured in Feminists Who Changed America 1963- 1975.

In 1974 Benton created a welded steel sculpture of Susan B. Anthony, which is now in the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and the bronze cast is in the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, New York. 

During the 1970s–1990s, Benton became noted for having created nearly 500 masks of various mediums, and as part of the Women’s Movement she has mounted mask performances and exhibitions in 32 countries as part of her Journey Tales — including the first outdoor performance at Lincoln Center, in 1971. In 1992 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in Women’s Studies that brought her to West Bengal, India, where she made masks, developed mask tales, and performed and gave lectures and workshops to people from all walks of life. In 1993 she was a founding member of the Veteran Feminists of America. A few years later she began the welded-sculpture programs at Dhaka University and at the art college in Chittagong. 

In 2005, the curator of “Suzanne Benton, Face and Figure: Selected Works 1955–2005” at The Queens College Art Center wrote that Benton “received art training here from such outstanding faculty as painter John Ferren, watercolorist Barse Miller, printmaker Louis Hechenbleikner, sculptor Peter Lipman-Wulf, and art historian Robert Goldwater, who introduced her to the power of ancient and indigenous art.” In 2011 Benton returned to Bangladesh and India, where she led welding workshops for gifted students, and mask and story workshops for disadvantaged women and children. Stating that “My art feeds my activism — and my activism feeds my art,” in 2017 Benton founded and organized the Women’s Solidarity March, which drew an unprecedented 25,000 peaceful marchers to downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, for which she received the Pinellas ACLU Civil Liberties Award in recognition of her efforts.

Benton has enjoyed more than 175 solo exhibitions as well as 2 retrospectives. She is the author of The Art of Welded Sculpture(Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975) and more than 60 published articles. Her work is represented in museums, and private collections worldwide. Her feminist activist archives were acquired by The Rutgers University Women Artists’ Archive, and the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America in Cambridge, Massachusetts is acquiring her papers. 

Benton created her first Chine-collé (glued paper collage) monoprints in 1983 during a residency in Köln, Germany. Ever since, she has used her own 30 x 50-inch Charles Brand press. Each printing plate is inked individually and hand painted. Hand-made collage papers are then dusted with an archival book-binding glue and placed face down on the plate. As the ensemble is run through the etching press the collage papers adhere to the foundation sheet of etching paper. This pressing and embossing process departs a complex and rich texture onto the prints.

Artist’s Statement

I believe in the power of the artist as culture-maker and that the purpose of art is to explore humanity. Having developed my work as a bridge between cultures, I’m drawn to multicultural themes. Myth, history, biblical lore, folk legend, and the mask forms of eastern and western cultures flow through my multi-disciplinary art. This trajectory has carried me to 32 countries to study, reconfigure, and retell significant sagas and tales through a feminist American artist’s eye. The multi-disciplined artwork created in response to this immersion is deeply philosophical. Having both a knowledge of sacred texts and ancient stories and the ability to transform them into contemporary relevance, my work has become a seasoned voice that has long prepared itself to reach America’s unique and always evolving demographics, where people from all the world live, hope, and dream.

– Peter Hastings Falk