By Elle Lamboy
Since childhood, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by artists. Perhaps it’s because I am so humbled by the incredible imagery they produce.
Or, maybe it’s because I’m a bit envious that artists can visually express their vision while I can barely draw a stick figure.
So, when I was asked by the Adams County Arts Council (ACAC) to interview artist Margery Benson, I was nervous.
As I entered her studio, located on the second floor of the ACAC facility, I was immediately awe-struck.
Her introspective paintings filled the studio from corner to corner; bordering the space with an abundance of canvas, color, and authentic imagery. Margery stood in the middle of it all with her palette in hand and her smock beautifully colored with various remnants of her latest work in progress.
We exchanged pleasantries and then she asked the question I dreaded.
“Are you an artist?” she inquired.
“No, I mumbled with a bit of uneasiness, “I’m just a writer.”
“Oh, so you’re an artist of words.” she immediately replied.
My entire spirit lifted. In just five words, within five minutes of meeting me, she changed my whole perspective.
And her art did the same.
As I scanned the room, I was immediately captivated by a striking painting of urban decay. While most would see the urban landscape as the antithesis of beauty she found it incredibly inspiring. “There’s just something beautiful about it,” she said looking longingly at the piece, “I know others may not see it, but I do.”
As we walked around the studio viewing her various works, she knew something intimate about each of her subjects. One was a blind musician, another a struggling artist herself, one who I swore resembled Walt Whitman. “See?, she asked confidently, you see the literary in him. Everyone has their own perception…that’s what art is supposed to do!”
Her portrayal of these people left me with a desire to imagine my own end to their stories—her art invoked an immediate sense of curiosity and engagement that left me longing to spend some quality time with her work.
I quickly grasped that her keen perception is one of her strongest artistic qualities. She takes the time to get to know what or who she’s painting, and it shows. She doesn’t just see it, she feels it.
“Perception, concept, and context are essential components in my work, Margery explains, “the medium is secondary, or even tertiary, to the final product. Actually the final product is rarely final as I might be doing another final brushstroke after a work is framed.”
In order to put her astute perception to practice, she rents a studio at the ACAC, along with four other artists.
She especially enjoys the balance of socialization and solidarity the ACAC studio space provides stating, “The other residents are a fascinating group of artists. We periodically meet and visit, but [my] focus is to try to get works to a suitable stage for sharing with other audiences.”
Benson also shares that she enjoys being in a “state-of-the-art facility with all necessary utilities and helpful staff to accommodate any requests.” She also favors the downtown location of the ACAC, which “facilitates interaction with the local community.”
“In fact, she exclaims as her eyes light up, “when we’re lucky, the young children taking cooking classes downstairs will come up and share their culinary masterpieces with us. The smells are just amazing!”
As I go to leave, she takes the time to introduce me to her “studio neighbor” photographic artist Bert Danielson. Their interaction is comfortable yet respectful, like two officemates relishing in a quick coffee break between deadlines.
I paused for a moment on the steps to scratch a few notes and reflect a bit on my recent encounter. I channeled Margery’s inspiring perspective as I imagined the five artists sharing creative ideals and then going back to their solitary studios to create their own original works as the classrooms below buzzed with activity of young artists hoping, one day, to have a studio of their own to fill.
Margery looks forward to attending several group shows this year to share her work with the public. You can also view her work, first hand, by E-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about renting studio space at the ACAC, contact Chris Glatfelter, Executive Director, at email@example.com.