One of professor Zac Bensons art pieces on display in Washington, D.C.

CU professor combines faith and culture at seminary art show

by Natalia Kirychuk, Public Relations Writer


First-year assistant studio art professor Zac Benson is currently showing two sculptures at the ReFORMation art show at the Henry Luce III Center for Arts and Religion, Wesley Theological Seminary, in Washington, D.C. The show opened Oct. 16 and closes Dec. 15.

Benson heard about the show as he looked for opportunities to highlight his work. After being accepted, he realized the challenge of transporting his work from Ohio to D.C. He opted to send large photographs of the works to the show and keep the actual pieces in Ohio.

“The location of this art show is the most exciting part,” said Benson. “The fact that it's being shown at a seminary means more to me than my art getting attention. A seminary is a place where people are sent to learn to be teachers and preachers. My art is in the midst of students studying profound work. I would rather my work be shown at a seminary than at the Louvre in Paris.”

The first piece, titled “Torn Between One Way and Another,” is 25-foot-long and comprised of 10 4-by-4-foot squares of cork board, each imprinted with one of the Ten Commandments in ancient Hebrew. Below each commandment is a contemporary word or phrase in English that connects to each one. Below the command “Do not murder,” Benson imprinted “Black lives matter.” Below the commandment “Honor thy father and thy mother,” Benson imprinted “nursing home.”

The second artwork, labeled “Looking at Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses,” is 6 feet long and made up of more than 250 used communion cups between two pieces of plexiglass. The cups are stained with wine and have a rose-colored appearance when viewed together. Benson considers this the best piece he’s ever made.

“This piece is so sincere and personal,” said Benson. “The act of communion means so much to a Christian, and each cup in the piece represents a different person. Drinking the wine represents Christ’s blood, and that blood should be the lens we use to look at all of life.”

“My work calls me to become a better Christian,” he continued. “It doesn’t only speak to the viewer, but it keeps me accountable to the gospel account. My art speaks to contemporary social issues and how my faith navigates those issues, many of them difficult topics. It talks about issues that I don’t want to talk about. I don’t want to be confrontational, but that’s what the gospel does. I make art about that confrontation.”

The actual art pieces will be transported to Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, in February to be shown for the first time along with other works of his. Benson’s art can be viewed on his website: zacbenson.com.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,963 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.