Emerging artist Gardner on display at Farnham


by Dana Lain/Staff Writer

 This month Farnham Galleries will be featuring artwork by Benjamin Gardner, considered to be an emerging artist. His paintings feature collages on acrylic with watercolor and many other mediums and his exhibit, “Mixed Media” will be on display from Feb. 9 to March 5.

“I’ve been working on a series of installations titled Evensong which refers to a prayer sung in the evening,” Gardner said. “The evening, of all times of day, is when day turns to night, so it has important psychological implications that affect who we are as people—our lives change at night, we are completely different people than we are during the day.”

According to Justin Nostrala, associate professor of art and chair of the department, Gardner was brought to Simpson College because of his artistic approach.

“Gardner was chosen because of his playful approach to art making,” Nostrala said. “We also liked the obvious evidence of taking a manual approach to making art. In our technological age with computerized everything, and digital camera influences running rampant, it’s nice to see an artist still working in such an intuitive fashion.”

Nostrala also appreciates the fact that Gardner’s art represents real human emotion.

“I think it’s important to represent art that demonstrates the human touch,” Nostrala said. “Work that makes it obvious that there is a living, emotional human behind the work.  I hope that people will appreciate Gardner’s honest and direct approach in making art, and remember and appreciate that human ideas take precedence over media.”

Students also appreciate Gardner’s unique approach to his art.”Although I like some abstract work, I prefer a lot of detail work,” sophomore Paul Salais said. “However, I think it’s interesting that he has his own style.”  

Gardner grew up drawing but never with the intention to become an artist. Not until his sophomore year of college did he become a visual arts major. He switched his major several times and ended with art because it allowed him to study philosophy, religion, poetics, writing and anything else he wanted.

“The research involved with studio art is inspiring, boundless, and never complete,” Gardner said.

He currently works for Drake University as an assistant professor of art and design.

“Teaching helps me to focus on the ideas and concepts that are important to the contemporary art world as a whole, and only helps my studio practice in this regard,” Gardner said.

Gardner has been all over the Midwest and nationally working on his art. Since 2005 he has been touring the Midwest showing solo exhibits at colleges as well as participating in several group exhibits. His artwork from 2005 to 2010 can be viewed online at his home page, http://benjaminagardner.com/home.html.   

Gardner gives the following advice to students interested in art.

“Live a life full of looking, reading, thinking, talking, researching, and making things, and you’ll be all right,” Gardner said.

Gardner hopes that students will take something away with them after viewing his exhibit.

“Plain and simple: I hope they see something that is visually interesting,” Gardner said. “I hope they think about the artwork after they leave the gallery.”