Bennett Bean: Be Careful What You Fall in Love With

Bennett Bean (1941) is an American ceramic artist. Although commonly described as a “studio potter,” some would characterize him as a sculptor and painter who works primarily in studio pottery. Bean is a quintessential polymath best known as a ceramicist for his treatment of vessels post firing. He works in a range of media including stone, precious metals, wool and silk weaving, and painting. For Bennett Bean, as a Buddhist practitioner, the distinctions between mediums are less than the interplay between them.

The Easton exhibition will highlight that interplay—the cross-pollination between ceramic sculpture, painting, rugs, and furniture he has been working with in recent years. Bean explains: “To understand an object I want to connect with it, to live with it, to have it around me. I’ll buy one if I can afford it but some things don’t exist anywhere but in my head. Those I have to make. In making I learn what’s there. The things I make influence what I buy and the things I buy influence what I make. From this process objects accumulate. Then comes the problem of ‘putting a thing in the world.’ How do you present a pot, a painting, a piece of sculpture? You need some place to put it. So I work on the house. I don’t make any distinctions between making things, cooking, gardening, and building houses. Elements from the garden appear in paintings and the surface obsession of the pots appears in the house as consciousness of each decision about material and finish. Each cross-pollinates. Curiosity about how to express identity results in having my DNA done. That image then surfaces in collages and then again in rugs. The paintings and the pots have both contributed their imagery to the rugs. It’s a dance where ideas are applied in different ways depending on the medium.”

Bennett Bean’s work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney, the Smithsonian Institution and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, among others. He lives and works in Blairstown, New Jersey with his wife, Cathy Bao. The Academy Art Museum is presenting Bennett Bean’s first solo museum exhibition.

Sponsored by: Maryland State Arts Council, Talbot County Arts Council, and The Star Democrat


September 16, 2017 - November 5, 2017


September 15, 2017, 5:30 pm -

Free Docent Tours:

Wednesday, September 20 at 11 a.m.
Wednesday, November 1 at 11 a.m.