SIDETRIP is open Saturdays, noon-3pm, until January 10th.
Lynn Benson’s studio is on a curve of land that juts out into the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers – a section of these rivers known for changes in course. Inspired by the natural world and the geopolitics of limited resources, Benson creates organic, abstracted, cartographical works in pencil, paint, and found materials. Recently, while contemplating the angles of one of her paintings, she diverged from her familiar materials and picked up the camera. The resulting incarnations in the form of ink on paper outline an experiment in altered perspectives. SIDETRIP is Benson’s exploration of an alternate path that takes her away from combining materials in a physical space, lifting orientation away from the surface of the canvas into the space above.
The source paintings for the prints displayed in this exhibition are real and imagined combinations of rivers: the Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, Potomac, Kansas, and Anacostia all make appearances, and parts of their meandering lines are recognizable in the images. But while the original paintings lie flat against the wall and look more like maps, the photographic images in SIDETRIP show these lines on a tilted plane, as if viewed from a high ridge or the porthole window of an airplane. By shifting the angle of view, Benson gives us a glimpse of the relationship an artist has with her work. These angles become familiar to the artist, whose views of the paintings vary throughout the creation stages, in the hovering scrutiny of detail, perhaps just inches from the face as the paintings are moved by hand across the studio.
This access to the artist’s viewpoint, as well as the sensations of floating gently over a landscape invoked by the softly shifting focus and tilted planes, add an emotional layer to the work. Benson’s SIDETRIP is an aesthetic journey, replete with new experiences for viewer and artist alike.