Black Soil           paint on panel, 40” x 30” 2012

The Garden and the Guide paint on panel, 24” x 18”, 2012

Recluse & Jewel (VA Waterleaf) mixed media on panel, 27” x 24”, 2012

Black Soil #12 (Offering To Min)         paint on panel, 24” x 24”, 2012


We are regularly confronted with complex layers of abstraction that make it difficult to interpret meaning (or to make things meaningful).  Work and thought involving the basic necessities of living are most rewarding for me.  I prefer to purchase what I see as resources versus products.  Whenever possible, I will purchase lumber to make furniture over buying a table from a store.  This helps me to have a connection to the objects in my life and see them as an indicator of my own labor.  I like to make things and work with my hands; I also find growing my own food and preparing my own meals rewarding. 

My studio practice reflects this navigation through abstraction and ambiguity and flourishes in the search for meaning and the meaningful.  I see my work as a lineage of non-objective visual research that attempts to come to terms with our place in society--specifically, that which we consume and dispose of and how we determine its value.      


Benjamin Gardner received his MFA from Illinois State University and BFA from Millikin University.  Gardner has had recent solo exhibitions at Box 13 Artspace in Houston, Texas; FLUXX gallery in Des Moines, Iowa; and Heavy Brow Gallery in Bloomington, Illinois.  Additionally, his work has been included in exhibitions at Wright State University, Young Painters 2014 at Miami University of Ohio, Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the Contemporary Art Center in Las Vegas, and the Des Moines Art Center in the exhibition Iowa Artists 2010.  He is affiliated with ABryant Gallery in Chicago, Illinois and DUSK editions in Brooklyn, NY, which debuts in Spring 2014.  Gardner is an Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Drake University, and lives and works in Des Moines, Iowa. 

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