A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

My Obsessions: Ben Fain (MFA 2008)

Ben Fain (MFA 2008)

Ben Fain is an artist, entrepreneur, and father who feels a little like Batman. “I have multiple identities I feel I’m switching back and forth between,” he says. When he’s not planning the opening of a bar, restaurant, and hotel in the upstate New York town of Catskill, he’s in his studio making art from found objects or spending time with his son, Hank, and his wife, Carrie Schneider (MFA 2007). Here’s a look at what’s currently feeding Fain’s creativity.


I’m opening a bar with my longtime friends Eric Amling and Reed Barrow (MFA 2006). The bar is literary-centric. We wanted to make a place to promote authors whose work we love and host readings and other programming. Our first author is Amy Hempel, who just came out with an incredible new book of short stories called Sing To It. Our next author is poet Ariana Reines. She writes a lot about the occult, computation, and the body. Reading her work you feel like you’re in a protest march in Second Life. Dana DeGiulio (MFA 2007) just came out with a new book of poetry that I adore. Sarah Maclay is a favorite. I’m reading a lot of poets right now.


I have a four-year-old, so the shows I’m watching are mostly about dogs and cats fighting crime, like Paw Patrol or PJ Masks. I’m part of the Bachelor nation as well. I’ve been watching for almost 10 years, but I don’t think I’m going to watch this season [of the Bachelorette] because the new bachelorette is Hannah B, and she’s obviously in it for the fame and not really to find love.


I have a relationship with a metal scrapper in Hudson who drives around and picks in the alleys. Whatever he doesn’t need, I ask him to drop off at my studio. I have this one rule: I will use whatever he drops off. It’s a lot of satellite dishes, old crutches, and kids’ toys, etc. I’m making these large-scale outdoor wind chimes made of all that stuff. It started after I finished my 10-year project of making parade floats (at this point I’ve made over four dozen parade floats and been in about 30 parades). I was thinking about rigidity and immobility.