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WAP: Paul Stephen Benjamin

Sep 23, 2017 - Nov 18, 2017
11am - 5pm

2016/2017 Working Artist Project

This round of Working Artist Project was curated by René Morales, Curator, Perez Art Museum, Miami, Florida.

René Morales received degrees in Art History from Swarthmore College and Brown University. He has been a curator at the Perez Art Museum Miami—previously known as Miami Art Museum—since 2005. In 2014, he organized the museum’s current collection display Global Positioning Systems. Morales organized three well-received exhibitions for the opening of PAMM in 2013—Amelia Peláez: The Craft of Modernity, A Human Document: Selections from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, andMonika Sosnowska: Market. Recent exhibitions he has organized include a survey of the work of Miami-based painter Victoria Gitman, a discursive installation by Marjetica Potrc, a project that incorporates live parrots by the Rotterdam-based artist pair Bik Van der Pol, a site-specific sculptural work by Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo, and a selection of Romare Bearden’s 1964 Photostat works. Morales is currently working on newly commissioned projects with Sarah Oppenheimer and Susan Hiller, as well as a major survey of the work of Dara Friedman. Prior to working at PAMM, Morales worked at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

About the Exhibition:

Paul Stephen Benjamin:  Pure Black

“The title of the exhibition refers to Benjamin’s exploration of a series of commercial paint shades—Valspar’s Very Black, New Black, and Behr’s Pure Black and Totally Black—applied individually in thick velvety layers to a series of large paintings. While the luxurious surfaces, tonal differences, and inky characteristics of these colors weigh vibrant and dense on the surfaces of Benjamin’s paintings, there lies hovering a constellation of complicated questions related to the artist’s use of color and society’s representation of race. The expression of these shades as “totally,” “new,” and “pure” black (as unique a marketing decision as I have ever seen!) point to the externalization of color as both visual sensation and cultural construct, sensory experience and political category leveraged historically to keep power structures, inequalities, and imperialist forms of occupation alive. Circulating the gallery, it felt clear that Benjamin’s decision to make work with and about black in this fraught sociopolitical moment, where minority communities of all kind are struggling under this administration and racial and ethnic tensions between communities of color and (state) power are at all-time highs, was one of urgent necessity.”

*Amirikhani, Jordan. Art Review: Two Takes on Paul Stephen Benjamins’s Pure Black at MOCA GA burnaway.org,  November 2017

Program Events

  • Opening Reception was held at MOCA GA on September 22, 2017.
  • Artist Talk was held at MOCA GA on October 26, 2017.

About the Artist:

Paul Stephen Benjamin received his BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his MFA from The Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University. Benjamin is a recent recipient of The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia Working Artist Project.  Benjamin will have solo and group exhibitions in 2017 at MOCA GA , The Hyde Park Art Center, The Studio Museum In Harlem and in 2018 at the Telfair Museum’s Jepson Center in Savannah, GA.

In 2016 Benjamin exhibited Black is the Color at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA and his video installation God Bless America at Poem 88. Among his awards to date are the NBAF Visual Artist Award, MOCA GA WAP, Artadia Art Award, Winnie B. Chandler Fellowship, Hambidge Fellowship, The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center Studio Program and the Forward Arts Emerging Artists Award.

More info on Paul Stephen Benjamin can be found here.

Major funding provided by the Charles Loridans Foundation and the Antinori Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to Lifecycle Building Center and American Insulated Glass for providing in-kind material donations for this exhibition.


75 Bennett Streeet
Atlanta, GA 30309 United States