© 2017 by Anna Benjamin / created with Wix.com

ABOUT

(b. 1991) New York City

LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Haverford College B.A. 2013, Fine Arts & Education

Rhode Island School of Design M.F.A. 2017, Printmaking

Inaugural Recipient of the West Bay View Foundation Fellowship at Dieu Donné, Fall 2018

Lead Organizer of Prints for Protest

Currently based in Philadelphia

ARTIST STATEMENT

Throughout the past few years, I have been questioning my practice. Why do I do the things I do? Why do I perform these rituals? Why do I make these choices? I have made an effort to consider my actions, to reflect with each step and with each process. I have explored my Jewish identity, and what it means to be an artist and printmaker.

Printmaking is a ritual. It is a discipline that has a basis, a grid, but also has endless variations. Printmakers enter into a communal tradition of processes that are taught and passed down from master to apprentice. It is a practice of conformity but also of divergence. We begin our learning by repeating the actions of our teachers, gradually evolving the process to fit into our own practices. Printmaking is a ritual that persists and evolves.

I first learned about Jewish papercuts about a year ago. There is a long history of Jews creating cut paper images for special occasions, and to be hung on walls for certain rituals. This process is not new, it is not original. It is one that has been continued for generations. It is done in a variety of styles, but the basics remain the same: a paper is cut to create an image. This process has persisted so long not only because of its beauty, but because of its accessibility. Anyone can make a papercut. It is not a process that only trained artists can appreciate, but that every person can understand. Cutting paper is an immediate action, one in which we perform and instantly see the results. It is both satisfying and understandable. It is accessible.

My drawings and prints are my rituals. They are the way that I practice. I perform the actions over and over again, learning and making meaning from them. I do not hide my process. On the back of the paper, you can see the steps I’ve taken: the measurements I’ve made, the grid I’ve drawn, and the cuts I’ve made. I am not perfect. I make mistakes and those mistakes are a part of the process. The pattern is not perfect. While I practice these rituals, I keep the ends of my paper rolled up. The paper, the grid, and the actions are continuous, but I focus on the present. I allow the memories and learning I have to influence my choices, but each action stands alone, only coming together when the piece is unrolled, unveiling the unity of the pattern.

Through doorways constructed with this process, I invite people to enter the space I have created. Often when we perform rituals, we forget the world we live in, with our actions creating an invisible architecture around us.