Jessica L. Benjamin, MFA
- Large Scale Ceramic Sculpture
- Fine & Performing Arts
- Adjunct Assistant Professor
My imagination was trained in the irrigations ditches on the 100th Meridian and I am one of the last be educated in a two room schoolhouse. My father, Howdy, began teaching me about land management, geographical history, and farm markets as soon as I could handle a shovel: age 5. I now live in the city and have gained a balanced perspective on our nation’s water and drought issues. My artwork is a direct reflection of these experiences and is also based on scientific date.
I received my B.A from Hastings College in 2001 and worked as a studio assistant for Jun Kaneko until 2006. In 2008, I received my M.F.A from Bowling Green State University, Ohio. I returned to Omaha the same year to pursue my research and to acquire affordable studio space, in which I could continue to make large-scale ceramic sculpture.
I have exhibited my artwork at the Joslyn Art Museum, Museum of Nebraska Art, the Great Plains Art Museum, and private galleries in the midwest. In 2013, the Nebraska Arts Council awarded me an Individual Artist Fellowship Grant. My artwork has been published in Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, NY Arts Magazine, Lark Crafts: The Best of 500 Ceramics, 500 Ceramic Sculptures, and in Sculpture Magazine.
Research and Scholarship Interests
- Water, drought, Great Plains region, Ogallala Aquifer, agriculture.
Current Research Projects
My artwork focuses on water usage in the Great Plains area: a regional concern that is related to the phenomenon of global drought. As a nation driven by the imperative of over-consumption, the United States has become dependent on commodities that require large quantities of diminishing water. Below the Midwest lies the greatest underground water reserve in the world, the Ogallala Aquifer. Since 2000, I have witnessed the drought-like conditions in the Midwest, and I have witnessed how people have responded to the drought.
Through my research on water, I have discovered many structural similarities between jackstones, water and ethanol molecules, and water pumps and faucets. I use these objects to explain levels of water and drought. I use color, surface texture, and scale to aid in this understanding. My ceramic artworks reference the increasing struggles over water rights and are battered reminders of these problems. My hope is that all who see my artwork begin to protect and preserve our most precious resource, water.