This summer, Kevin Benham, assistant professor of landscape architecture, was invited to do an artist residency at Villa Lena in Tuscany, Italy, to advance his creative scholarship in the study of light movement. Benham has previously created land art pieces exploring issues of biodiversity in Sweden, and focuses on landscape phenomena and the inherently temporal qualities of the discipline.
Villa Lena Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting international contemporary artists working in art, music, film, literature, fashion and other creative disciplines and fostering opportunities for multi-disciplinary dialogue. “The element of collaboration and exchange is one of the founding principals of the Foundation, with the hope that by bringing together different areas of practice, we will generate new creative outlooks, unparalleled research and exciting new impulses.”
Blog post “Where the Light Falls” by Kevin Benham via Villa Lena blog:
“The Tuscan countryside is defined by the sky, but more specifically by the sun. During clear skies, the sun casts a sharp shadow that defines interior and exterior spaces and during overcast days, the melancholy is enhanced by the soft shadows and atmosphere of the surrounding hills.
Villa Lena is perfectly situated at the nexus of these varying conditions and space is modulated by the earth continuously moving around the sun. As a result, the light is continuously moving throughout space and creates a dynamic experience that enhances the phenomenological and corporeal.
While in residence I began a project, Where the Light Falls, that empirically marked and recorded the movement of light through various apertures. The resulting drawings are minimal in nature, but profoundly grounded in a larger idea of gravity, temporality, and the constant relationship between the earth and sun.”
In addition to those temporal installations, Kevin Benham has also proposed a permanent installation for Villa Lena. Cielo is a proposed installation that embodies the philosophical relationship of the sky and the earth in Tuscany. The proposed work will consist of a large mirror, abstractly placed within the landscape as a minimal gesture that will reflect the sky and create a phenomenological relationship between the earth and the atmosphere above.
About Professor Benham
Kevin Benham is the Jon Emerson/Wayne Womack Endowed Professor at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University. He received his MLA from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and his M.Arch. at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, The University of Michigan.
He has taught interdisciplinary studios at several academic institutions, including, the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, Wentworth Institute of Technology and the Boston Architectural College. His research and work focus on landscape phenomena and the temporal qualities inherent in the discipline. To that end, he produces temporal and ephemeral installations that elucidate phenomena requiring careful observation through space and time.
Additionally, his work explores a variety of materiality and as a result, his process tests the boundaries of the discipline of landscape architecture as well as the materials he uses in constructing his installations. He has exhibited his conceptual work throughout the world, including exhibits at the Royal Institute of British Architects, London, England; CUBE Gallery, Manchester England; Zurich, Switzerland; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Scottsdale, Arizona. He is the recent recipient of a Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Haystack on Deer Isle, Maine and is currently in residence at the Villa Lena Foundation, Palaia, Italy.