About Siona Benjamin
“I am inspired by traditional styles of painting, like
Indian/Persian miniatures, Byzantine icons and Jewish and Christian
illuminated manuscripts, but I blend these ancient forms with pop
cultural elements from our times to create a new vocabulary of my own.
Using the rich colors of gouache I apply layers, literally with the
paint, as well as metaphorically with the content.
painting is my ritual, my celebration, my essence. My research and
ideas flow simultaneously together and make up the fabric of my work. I
use gouache paints and 22K gold leaf to form layers of jewel like color.
My background in painting, enameling on metal and theater set design
all influence my work. My characters are real as they act out
contemporary situations and dilemmas, while also celebrating my
womanhood, my abilities, my strengths and my ambitions. The ornateness
of the culture from which I came once seemed difficult and unnecessary
to apply in my work. Now I have found a way to use it, to be able to
weave current issues and parts of my life in its intricacies, thus
making this ornateness strong and meaningful. In this way, I attempt to
create a dialogue between the ancient and the modern, forcing a
confrontation of unresolved issues.
I am an artist originally from Bombay, India, of Bene Israel Jewish
My work reflects my background and the transition between my
old and new worlds. Having grown up in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim
society, having been educated in Catholic and Zoroastrian schools,
having been raised Jewish and now living in America, I have always had
to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived. In
this transcultural America I feel a strong need to make art that will
speak to my audience of our similarities, not our differences as I feel I
can contribute to a much-needed "repair" (Tikkun) through my
art. I would like my audience to re-evaluate their notions and concepts
about identity and race, thus understanding that such misconceptions
could lead to racism, hate and war.” – Siona Benjamin
Siona Benjamin is a painter originally from Bombay, now living in the US. Her work reflects her background of being brought up Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. In her paintings she combines the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by both Indian miniature paintings and Sephardic icons.
She has her first MFA in painting and a second MFA in Theater set design.
She has exhibited in the US, Europe and Asia.
She has been recently awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2010-11 for art project titled: Faces: Weaving Indian Jewish Narratives. Research for this project has been conducted in India. First exhibit has been planned for April 2013 at the Prince of Wales museum in Mumbai, India.
Her work has been featured in: The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer,The Jewish Week in NYC and NJ, The Boston Globe, Art in America, Art New England, Art and Antiques and Moment magazine.
Photo by Sami studio