Marissa Lee Benedict
Instructor, Sculpture. BFA, 2007, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; MFA, 2011, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Exhibitions: Threewalls, Chicago; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago; Chicago Artists' Coalition, Chicago; Mana Contemporary, Chicago; Evanston Art Center, Evanston; Heaven Gallery, Chicago; Columbia College, Chicago; Sullivan Galleries, Chicago; Cue Arts Foundation, NYC; LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore; Arsenal Center, Watertown, MA. Publications: Newcity; Chicago Magazine; Hyperallergic; Artlog; Columbia College Press; ArtSlant Chicago. Awards: Ox-Bow Fall Residency, Ox-Bow Scholarship; BOLT Residency, Chicago Artists' Coalition (CAC); ACRE Residency, Simone’s Scholarship; Vermont Studio Center, Full Fellowship; Joan Mitchell Foundation, MFA Fellowship.
Experience at SAIC
Through SAIC, I have been introduced again and again to an indescribably wonderful community of hard working, sincere, and talented artists from all over the world. I have the privilege of working every day alongside, and in collaboration with, some of the greatest makers and thinkers I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Since arriving at this institution, I have found my world challenged, opened and expanded in innumerable directions. I have found people who inspire me daily, and with every conversation, exchange and dialogue, I hope to contribute back to the community the same level of energy, engagement and investment that I know I take from it.
A native of Southern California, I consider myself a sculptor, researcher, writer, explorer, teacher and avid amateur of many fields and disciplines (coming from the French "lover of").
I am motivated by a sense of critical wonder, and I consider my practice to be an ongoing investigation into the complex—and ever evolving—relationship between humans and the material world. I am someone deeply curious about the way our world works: from the simple clarity of infinitesimally small micro interactions to the infinite complexity of macro intra-actions. Deeply rooted in research and experimentation, my work strives to reinvest the material world—the world around us, the world that we touch, see, feel, dig into, consume and move through—with a sense of agency; an idea I access sculpturally by engaging in processes that allow equal space for planned human action and uncontrollable biological, chemical and physical reaction. Whether communicating via sculpture, installation, performance, video or the written word—or a hybridization thereof—I seek to articulate Jane Bennett's philosophy of "vibrant matter," fore-fronting the "force of materiality" to create both a physical and intellectual understanding of our networked inter-connectivity.
As a teacher, I strive to bring a similar desire to act and react to the classroom: I see my role as simultaneously one of instruction and collaboration, bringing new and challenging bodies of knowledge to the classroom while at the same time responding to students' interests, needs and questions in order to generate a sense of open communication and critical dialogue. I ask my students to think deeply about the world we live in while still urging them to find a role for curiosity, absurdity, playfulness, growth and experimentation in their work. As they begin to develop and evolve their understanding of what can constitute an artistic practice, I hope to broaden my students' understanding of what it means to communicate conceptually through material choices, processes of making, and methods of research.
Among an ever expanding list, I am inspired by the complex and contradictory city of Chicago: its history, past and present, its waterways, canals, underground tunnels, and overflowing puddles, its elevated railways, industrial corridors and gridded streets. I am fascinated by the ocean-like Lake Michigan whose shores the city occupies, and its currents, tides, storms, sunken wrecks and living inhabitants (micro and macro). I am drawn to ideas of radical intimacy, transformation, ephemerality, experimentation, growth, mobility, nomadism, balance, imbalance, maintenance and survival. I am interested in mycelium, soil, terracotta, honey, mead, wild yeast, beeswax, fat, felt, salt, sulfur, bismuth, meteorites, microbes, algae, oil, carbon, tar, water, oak, lightening and electricity. I am influenced by artists Simon Starling, Tacita Dean, Andrea Zittel, Mark Dion, Sarah Sze, Phoebe Wasburn, Mierele Laderman Ukeles, Joseph Beuys, Eva Hesse, Hans Haacke and Robert Smithson; by writers and philosophers Karen Barad, Jane Bennett, Rebecca Solnit, Italo Calvino, Steward Brand and the contributors to "The Whole Earth Catalog" (of which my father gave me his copies), Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, William Cronon and Bruno Latour... to name a few.
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.