Veiled: A Space Between
Sculpture by Aaron Tennessee Benson
Jan. 21 through March 9
Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Mon. - Fri.; 1 - 3 p.m. Sun
Admission: $5 Adults; $3 Children and free on Sundays
Aaron Tennessee Benson opens the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art’s 2018 calendar on January 21 with an exhibition, “Veiled: A Space Between.” It will run through March 9 at the museum, located at 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-3 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and free on Sundays.
Benson’s exhibition focuses on the ideas of time and eternity, questions that Benson as a Christian grapples with. The works illustrate the difficulty people have believing what they cannot see and challenges viewers to think beyond the obvious.
“My work stems a lot from understanding the eternal,” he said. “Being a Christian, I wrestle with understanding eternity and staking my entire life on this belief based on my faith. I don’t have all the answers and don’t believe I’ll ever have all the answers. I create work that deals with the struggles I have with my faith. Struggles in a good sense: developing my faith as my own and not my parents’ faith or my friends’ faith and trying to understand the idea of eternity.”
Benson said that while his work is spiritual in its conception, it’s not in-your-face or trying to make a specific statement. There’s no hidden agenda, he said.
“If any deeper conversation comes about, it’s through one-on-one discussion, through someone asking more questions,” Benson said. “This work is an overview of my faith and what it entails to wrestle with a faith, whether you’re young or old. It’s a journey and part of this journey is working through this idea of eternity and the belief in it and trying to understand that belief from the lenses of humanity.”
In graduate school and shortly afterwards, Benson said he worked on projects that had to do with time, a topic that relates to his current work regarding eternity.
“Eternity is the absence of time, the fact that I understand that (pauses for a second) that’s a second, that’s the cliff, the edge,” he said. “There’s a time element in my work that’s process oriented, but I’m also conceptually thinking about time.”
Benson is an assistant professor of art at the University of North Alabama where he teaches ceramics, sculpture and 3D design. He earned his MFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University after obtaining his BFA in 2009 from The University of Tennessee.
“I grew up in the studio with my dad,” Benson said. “I fell in love with clay because I was around it and studied ceramics both in undergrad and in graduate school. Most of my technical background is in ceramics and hand building.”
Benson will present a slide lecture at the opening reception. He will also conduct a workshop that will include demonstrations of clay techniques including wheel throwing, slab building and alternative processes. Dates for the workshops will be announced.
This program has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.