Siona Benjamin’s Art

The other day I saw the most spectacular exhibition.  I’m serious- it may have been the most amazing art show I’ve ever seen.  It’s called “Blue Like Me” by the unbelievably interesting and talented Siona Benjamin and is currently on view at The Richard Stockton College in New Jersey.  Benjamin is “inspired by traditional styles of painting, like Indian/Persian miniatures, Byzantine icons and Jewish and Christian illuminated manuscripts.”  She blends these ancient traditional methods with contemporary pop culture references, to establish a unique vocabulary that speaks across millennia.  Her work is very layered, both literally, with paint (richly colored  goauche), gold leaf, and multiple other materials, including at times plastic toy soldiers, collaged maps, dyed red rice, and bullet casings, and  metaphorically with content.  As a Jewish woman growing up in predominately Hindu and Muslim India, her personal history is steeped in the traditions of many of the world’s most ancient and widespread religions and cultures.  Through her painting, sculptural installations, and performance pieces, Benjamin questions the inherent patriarchy in these cultures, and attempts to find a synthesis where she can exist and create her art.