In the summer of 1999, Ben took a RISD Continuing Education art class/workshop themed to the connections between earth and the universe at large. The workshop covered everything from still-life sketching to linocut printmaking. Other creative projects were established, including a project to create a personalized “extraterrestrial” alphabet. This alphabet and the linocut printmaking were eventually combined into a single art project which was to be the highlight of the workshop.
Every participant in the workshop was given the opportunity to choose an animal which accurately represents life on earth. Ben chose the graceful, elegant, intelligent, and threatened humpback whale. These animals were carved into a square block of linoleum. A special heavy paint was then applied to the linocut, and prints were made. Ben’s best prints were finally mounted in a special square-and-diamond construction paper frame, around which various characters in his special alphabet were arranged. The instructor then submitted these, the participants’ final masterpieces, to Crayola, the sponsor of the workshop.
In due time, Ben was notified that his work, “Long-Finned New Englander,” had been chosen by Crayola to appear in the northeast regional exhibition in Scranton, PA. Not only that, after its showing in Scranton, “Long-Finned New Englander” would be moved to Washington, DC, where it would hang permanently on the walls of the United States Department of Education federal building, just a few blocks from the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution.
The RISD CE Catalogue published a story about Ben and his art work in their Spring 2001 edition. Read about it here.