Bennett Bean is a quintessential American polymath. He is best known as a ceramic artist (for his treatment of vessels post firing); but works in a range of media including stone, precious metals, wool and silk weaving, paper, parchment and painting. He was formally trained in fine art and has been making things, prolifically, since 1960, full time in studio for that last 25 years. His work is represented by numerous galleries as well as in major museum collections nationwide including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the White House Art Collection.
To understand an object I want to connect with it, to live with it, to have it around me. I’ll buy one if I can afford it but some things don’t exist anywhere but in my head. Those I have to make. In making I learn what’s there. The things I make influence what I buy and the things I buy influence what I make. From this process objects accumulate. Then comes the problem of “putting a thing in the world.” How do you present a pot, a painting, a piece of sculpture? You need some place to put it. So I work on the house. I don’t make any distinctions between making things, cooking, gardening, and building houses. Elements from the garden appear in paintings and the surface obsession of the pots appears in the house as consciousness of each decision about material and finish. Each cross-pollinates. Curiosity about how to express identity results in having my DNA done. That image then surfaces in collages and then again in rugs. The paintings and the pots have both contributed their imagery to the rugs. It’s a dance where ideas are applied in different ways depending on the medium.