Archive Entertainment The Orion

Inside the mind of a mural

January 1, 2005

The smell of spray paint engulfed both floors of Taylor Hall Thursday afternoon while artist Christopher Benfield brought his latest creation to life in front of the public’s eyes as part of the two-artist exhibition, “Welcome to My World.”

A spritz of orange and a blotch of black were released onto a piece of cardboard as he slowly pieced together the layout for his palette. Masking tape was placed at the base of the wall in hopes of keeping it stain-free.

Then the corner turned dark. The mountain of black Krylon was growing higher and higher, until Benfield pulled away and whipped out the orange. It coupled with red to accent the wet, colorless streak.

These were just three of the colors he had to do his work. Six Krylon, one Rust-Oleum and a few silver cans were waiting. His white pants were decorated with a rainbow of dots, streaks and splotches from his previous works.

Next, he took three plastic cases, like the ones in a cell phone box. Instead of throwing them away, Benfield took four clear pushpins and pulled a Martha Stewart, turning them into shelves. He took a step back and asked himself if the shelves sat right.

After walking to the other side of the room, Benfield turned around and took a break to look at some of the works of the other artist whose work is also on display in the University Art Gallery. “Welcome to My World” will be on display until April 13.

Felix Macnes has taken his palette and made it a part of the painting. Around each work, he left enough space to clean off his brush. Those strokes became an abstract border. One of his pieces, “KO/OK”, is a human figure painted across two palettes. It has been displayed both together and apart.

When together, the pieces act as one solid work that stands on its own. When they are split, as they currently are, the human eye jumps the gap, nearly eliminating the empty space.

To keep with the theme of the palette as art, Macnes made sure the size of the finished piece was the same as the unfinished piece.

Once he was refreshed, Benfield went back into his artistic groove. The shelves he put up were for a small bronze-colored toy collection, which had kazoos, Super Saiyan Goku and even Flit, the hummingbird from “Pocahontas.”

The toys hinted at a room of a person who had just passed the years of their childhood, and their memories have been bronzed as mementos.

Then the walls needed posters.

Benfield picked up a trimmed piece of paper from a Save Mart grocery bag. An eagle sitting in front of the red, white and blue print said, “Proud to be an American.” At the top of the eagle’s head, Benfield placed a simple, small circle that said “Justice Not War.”

With the toys and posters in place, it was time for graffiti and Benfield had a stencil that read, “Get Some!!” with a nice, big underline. But where to put it? After another survey of the room for perspective, Benfield reflected on his other works.

In one of his pieces, Benfield had an astronaut with an air hose curling throughout the page. The hose wound its way past a worm-like being, complete with a human head, mullet and sideburns, a green-eyed pink hippo with pouty lips, a human head spewing water into the base of a skull, and a rubbery human with a flat-top, belly button and long, floppy arms who just passed the Mars rover on a barren snowscape.

It finally ends inside a freshly cut fishtail with the fish somehow still attached. If the air hose hadn’t ended in the fish, it would have been in the freshly squeezed liquid from the bull that’s readying itself to charge the wall.

Benfield took the stencil and peeked it out from behind the trimmed American pride bag. A mutter here, a flip there and the red paint screamed “!!emoS teG.”

Now the other part of the corner needed some stencil work. Some silver flames were pushpinned and blacked over.

“Shit,” Benfield hissed.

He wasn’t pleased when the flame slipped just a little bit. However, he filled in the white wall left from the flames with orange to give them life and covered them with another cut-out.

An unsalted-butter box here, a paper previewing his work dripping with black paint there and a new Benfield piece was on display.