Images by Benjamin D. Rinehart, printmaker and book artist, comprise a show entitled “imPRINT" which will open March 17 in the Memorial Hall Gallery 239 at Chadron State College.
Rinehart, who lives in Appleton, Wisc., is also an associate professor of art at Lawrence University. He has exhibited his work in many one-person and group shows in the U.S. since 1997.
The pieces depict an autobiographical narrative critiquing relationships between people and personal identity. As a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning community, Rinehart uses his personal experience to raise awareness and speak about issues affecting a socially and politically under-represented if not marginalized minority.
In his artist’s statement he said, “Each piece is an expression of intimacy and subject to numerous readings beyond that exists as much more than just a platform to speak about my own life. My artwork is designed to communicate and help others by providing a new insight into supposedly universal experiences thus contributing to a wider dialog, and ideally, forming a stronger sense of community and family.”
Rinehart believes our ability to embrace differences in others heavily depends on a lifetime of external social and environmental influences. To some extent, seeking approval and acceptance is a shared common experience.
“I am intrigued by what happens when comfortable or predictable ideologies are questioned. Conceptually, the subject matter of my work is deliberate in its intention to provoke emotional, intellectual, and often physical response from the viewer,” Rinehart said.
The personal memories he incorporates directly relate to family, relationships, children, and parenting.
“I attempt to raise questions about love, insecurities, social injustices, and values in contemporary society. I have gained a special perspective into acceptance because of my current family structure. Raising two children with my male counterpart affords me the opportunity to revisit my childhood, acknowledge my evolving identity, and determine my role going forward in society,” Rinehart said.
He directs the viewer’s experience with tactile, visual, emotional, and psychological responses. Bitter and sweet colors bring the audience into playful surroundings while dense layers emulate a thick skin suggesting strength and resilience.
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