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Take 5 with Artist-in-Residence Gavin Benjamin

Before becoming the newest Artist-in-Residence at The Westmoreland this April, multifaceted Pittsburgh artist Gavin Benjamin had a busy end to 2020 and beginning of 2021 with two solo exhibitions, Heads of State at the BoxHeart Gallery (2020) and Downtown Renown: Pittsburgh Sports Greats (2020-2021), as well as being featured in numerous group shows.

Gavin’s residency runs through the end of June, and you can find out a little more about what he’s been working on with this short Q&A:

1. Describe your work in 7 words or less.
“Noir-baroque, bespoke, cinematic, identity politics, beautiful, engaging, contemporary.”

Gavin Benjamin, Heads of State no. 29, 2019, Analog photography, appropriated images, Swarovski crystals, on canvas mounted to panel, 16 x 12 x 2 inches

2. Do you plan to work on a new body of work or develop a new process during The Westmoreland’s residency program? If so, could you describe what you plan to work on?
“I will be creating an entirely new body of photographic and portrait driven work during my residency based off the relationships that I create during my time at The Westmoreland. I will work to create relationships within the Greensburg African American community and bring them into the Museum by centering community members as the subjects of my photographs. I will examine the museum’s collections and archives, incorporating them into my photos and making them accessible to the surrounding community. During my time at the Westmoreland, I will also produce workshops, a short documentary about my time, and curate the giftshop with objects from local inspiring makers. I will be including peer creative collaborators to help accomplish each aspect of the exhibition and accompanying programs.”

3. What do you hope to explore or achieve while in The Westmoreland residency program?
“At the culmination of the residency, I will have produced a new body of work as well as forged new relationships within the Greensburg and museum communities. It is my hope that these relationships will result in deeper exchanges surrounding the arts in Greensburg and the influence of the African American community within the museum setting. I hope to create an accessible exhibition and program that effectively reframes the residency as an all-encompassing endeavor that reaches into the far corners of the museum, its collection, and the Greensburg community.”

Gavin Benjamin, Heads of State no. 42, 2020, Decoupage mixed media, photography on archival paper mounted to panel, 40 x 30 x 2 inches

4. What is something most people don’t know about you?
“While the work that I produce does have a whimsical and playful quality, I am very serious about my career as an artist and the aspects that go into creating a sustainable practice.”

5. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
“Have more fun, you’re only young once.”

Fascinated with Gavin’s work and want to learn more? Make sure to follow The Westmoreland on Facebook and check back because we will be announcing two upcoming virtual programs with Gavin: an In-Depth In Conversation and Workshop!

The Artists-in-Residency program is a collaboration between The Westmoreland and BOOM Concepts made possible by generous support from The Fisher Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Generous support for this project provided by Art Bridges.

Header Image: Photo by Adam Milliron