Barbara Benish


Photo courtesy of UC Santa Cruz


Over the past 30 years, Barbara Benish has shown in numerous international exhibitions, from P.S 1 Museum in New York to alternative spaces in Europe and the Middle East. She is represented in public and private collections, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, Stadtgeschichtliche Museen, Nurnberg, Germany and the National Museum, Prague. Art Critic Eleanor Heartney wrote "Benish has long been preoccupied with the metamorphic uses of nature. Earlier works have used real plants combined with sculptural elements to deal with issues like the isolation of contemporary Czech culture, idealistic dreams of life in harmony with nature, and the excavation of female modes of experience and understanding." A long term public art project that Benish is coordinating off the California coast, "SS Palo Alto" reflects her commitment to community and the environment. The project brings together international artists to work on the theme of how waste issues impact our oceans. Benish has taught and lectured in universities and academies for 25 years, including the University of California and the Academy of Arts and Design in Prague. Throughout the 1980's Benish was engaged first-hand in the historical changes in Central Europe, culminating in an exchange exhibition of Czech and U.S artists she co-curated in 1989 the first exhibition between these two countries since WWII. In 2004, Benish founded the NGO Art Dialogue, based in Prague, which supports an artist-run gallery, summer study abroad programs and an artist-in -residency at ArtMill, a sustainable art-think-tank in the Bohemian countryside. Since 2010 , Art Dialogue has worked closely with the United Nations Safe Planet Campaign for the Responsibility of Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes, where Benish is an Advisor in Arts. Education, and Outreach. She is a Fellow at the Social Practice Arts Research Center, University of California, Santa Cruz, and since 2011, her theoretical work is contributing to the UN Education Caucus, and the Transformative Education Forum.