Nature’s Rhythms | Elk Antlers, Wild Turkey Feathers, Pheasant Feathers, Royal Palm Turkey Feathers, Mallard Duck Feathers, Quills on Ivory Textured Cloth and Linen | 48 x 48 inches | 2023

Artist Spotlight: Lisa Bennett

Lisa Bennett’s growing list of collectors may find it challenging, at times, to come up with a general term to describe the artworks she composes from such objects gathered in the wild or thoughtfully sourced as feathers, quills, shells, and precise slices of branches, bones, and antlers, which she arranges in symmetrical patterns and mounts on textured cloth backings. But are they collages? Mosaics? Or, to use a more high-minded gallerist’s or curator’s term, assemblages? “I describe them as graphic naturalist art,” says Bennett, putting a gracious end to such speculation. 

Call them what one will, the components of Bennett’s creations seem to gain an almost spiritual power through their order and proximity. “I’m kind of an alchemist of nature,” she offers with modest reserve, summing up how the materials she uses and the patterns she arrives at to display them “sometimes express specific references to our planet, sometimes to motion, sometimes to the elements, sometimes to the points on a compass or to exploration.”

Nature’s Symphony | Elk Antlers, White Tail Deer Antlers, Cow Bone, Wood, Chicken Feathers, Pigeon Feathers, Ring Neck Pheasant Feathers, Macaw Feathers, Quills on Linen Fabric | 36 x 36 inches | 2023

Bennett grew up surrounded by nature, in a house her parents — Mom was an art teacher, Dad a financial manager as well as an outdoorsman — built in the woods near the town of Bath, Ohio, south of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “I would invariably come home from wandering our woods with my pockets full of rocks, feathers, whatever I found outdoors, and I would arrange and display them on old pieces of slate in a treehouse my father built us up in an oak tree.” 

Her other great childhood interest was food, and by junior high Bennett was running her own thriving local catering business, which led her to earn a degree in hotel and restaurant finance from Cornell University and to work in that field. Eventually, she wound up living in Dallas, Texas where she realized that “I missed creativity”; so, she transitioned into the interior design world, creating custom looks for high-end homes. “And I was always bringing in highly textured things like leaves or feathers or flowers.” Not surprisingly, she also began filling her own shelves and drawers with natural objects, and she even attended floral design school to learn ways to assemble her finds into wreaths or other displays for charitable events.

Building Blocks of Life | Elk Antlers, Pheasant Feathers, Mallard Feathers on Ivory Cloth | 36 x 36 inches | 2023

Unable to continue that at the start of pandemic seclusion in the spring of 2020, Bennett sought a new way to channel these creative efforts, arriving at the process by which she attaches her finds to the board-mounted cloth using art-preservation glue or, for heavier or more awkward items, clear fishing line. She shared images of her first creations with friends in the gallery world, and soon her work was being shown, and finding avid collectors. She sees no end to where her “graphic natural art” may lead. “I just love exploring, finding new materials, and then working with and presenting them in new, different ways.”

Bennett is represented by Adams Galleries of Austin in Lakeway, Texas. This October 10 through 27, her work will be exhibited at the Round Top Ranch Antiques Show in Round Top, Texas.

Based in San Rafael, California, Norman Kolpas is the author of more than 40 books and hundreds of articles. He also teaches nonfiction writing in The Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension.

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