Suzan Benzle | Tuxedo Junction
Suzan Benzle

born 1949
Resides in Hilliard, Ohio

Biography             Statement             Ask the Artist
Suzan Scianamblo [sha-NAM-bloh] Benzle [BEN-zlee] owns the jewlery design firm Benzle Signature Collection, and was previously involved with her former husband Curtis Benzle in Applied Arts and Benzle Porcelain Company. She has taught at the Arrowmont School of Craft in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the Columbus College of Art and Design and at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb--where he was awarded her MFA in 1979. She's received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council.

Suzan Benzle's works are in the permanent collections of the Museo Internazionale Della Ceramiche, in Faenze, Italy and the Everson Museum, in Syracuse, NY.


Statement

For many years, I have investigated the grid as a foundation for woven structures, surface designs and basketry constructions. I explored different materials such as grass, bark, flax, hemp, fine cotton and various others to create this interaction between overlaying and underlying dynamics. Particulary in porcelain, the intrigue with the work grows as multiple layers of thin, wet, inlaid colored patterns are stacked and fired at 2400 degrees. The passage of light through these eggshell-like walls creates a translucent environment in full color that gives the illusion of transcendence of time and space. The mystery of the earth reveals itself in my use of clay and porcelain as they occur similar to the formation of our world in numerous strata. The a priori cold and lifeless mass of these materials is transformed into delicate environments flooded with light and its immanent energy.


Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

Many of my ideas come from visual stimuli, like a fence crawling along a hilly field, patterns on a fish or shell, or looking at layers of colored glass in a church window. Ideas may also come from feelings or emotions, a calm and peaceful wheat field may inspire a calm and serene piece of work.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

I have collaborated with many people on one piece of art. There is something positive to be said for this way of working. When people are able to work together without their egos interfering you have created a very special situation. A Cooperative results and the end product far exceeds what one individual might have accomplish. It is also important to work alone and sometimes in isolation. In this way you can identify and clarify new directions you wish to take.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

Many workshops have been given in colleges as well as in state and local organizations. I have never used the apprentice system, but have used a number of employed studio assistants.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

The most exciting part of creating a piece of art is having an idea, making a plan to achieve that goal, then opening the kiln to see that the things you had not planned were as exciting as the things laid out. The second most exciting element is to achieve a positive delighted response from a genuinely interested audience. I do not make art for myself but for those who wish to look at it.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

The most difficult part in operating a studio is the business side: electric bills, gas bills, filing cabinets with too many papers to file, and checkbooks that will not balance.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

The process used is not based on traditional clay working techniques. The work is a combination of handbuilding techniques, the millefiori glass working process, painting and traditional porcelain firing procedures.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

Be prepared to work long and hard. Don't expect to become an artist overnight. Try to go to the best school you can afford and take advantage of all opportunities that are open to you no matter how small they seem at the time. And get involved with the art community.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

Your art is not who you are but an expression of what you wish to communicate about yourself to others. Develop all areas of yourself to the fullest and the art will happen.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

It seems to me that you miss about 70% of any work when it is not viewed in person. Missing the three dimensions alone is a big loss. The tactile quality is also missed. You would need to question-- is the piece light weight? Is the surface smooth or shiny? What is the material? Color is also lost, and the translation between the original object and any reproduction is going to result in significant distortions.

Curtis Benzle Sonja Blomdahl