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Assistant Professor Kevin Bennington Give a Powerful Message

By Christian Pridemore
On January 26, 2016


Over the past couple decades, society as a whole is becoming more focused on saving the planet. What society is collectively doing in order to leave a better world for future generations of children can be deemed as more of a long-term goal rather than a short term one. However, there is a better way to more accurately describe the short term effects of keeping an environment-friendly mindset, and Kevin Bennington, Assistant Professor of Arts, portrays such a message through his continuing work titled, “Time 4 Influence.”  

“I started a series of pieces where I collected trash and put them into vessels, and displayed the good and bad, clean and pristine and then trashy. So that’s where the Time 4 Influence started, and all of these pieces that were in the show were continuing from that original theme,” he said.   

Bennington wishes to show the effects of people’s littering and dumping on pristine scenes, which gives a powerful juxtaposition. By showing these scenes he’s created side by side with one being naturally beautiful and serene and the other being defiled with garbage and pollution, it displays very accurately the affect that careless humans are having on the environment. 

“Over the last five years my work has been focused on informing viewers of how important pollution awareness is to our environment and in many cases I try to draw attention to both extremes of beauty and pollution,” Bennington said in a press release. And his viewership reaches farther than just this gallery located at Bluefield College Art Gallery. Bennington states that he has also had a solo show at the Chuck Mathena Center in Princeton as well as having shown his work in a travelling show known as the Athens Travelling Show, which goes around the country visiting spots such as Athens, Ohio; Athens, Alabama; and Athens, West Virginia. Time 4 Influence originates from his Masters study at Miami International University School of Art and Design. The gallery at Bluefield College is thus titled, “Time 4 Influence Continued”, being a continuation of his works from back in 2008 when the project first started. 

“…Basically what I do is I take tons of pictures of trash on the side of the road; I’ll go to the dump to take pictures, or just where people have just dumped things out and I’ll cut those out and place them on the photos. The pristine scenes are anywhere from 50-100 photos that are comprised as a whole scene. These scenes actually do not exist. And the trash based scenes are comprised of somewhere between 100-500 photos cause I cut out individual pieces of trash and I’ll place those on there and get the lighting just right.” Bennington goes to extensive lengths to get the imagery in his works to fit the message he wishes to portray, having by this point taken over 9500 photos of natural scenery with which to create his art. And the public reception of his work has only seen one real criticism: why not focus on recycling? 

“I think there are two different mentalities there between recycling and not throwing trash out the window, and I don’t think you can take a person who throws trash out the window and make them recycle immediately. It’s more of a self-conscious thing. Just don’t throw that out the window, put it in the trash can; don’t litter up our lakes and rivers.” Besides this one critique on his work, public reception has been favorable due to the non-controversial, non-confrontational method with which Bennington presents his artwork. Bennington states that it’s a topic a lot of people think is bettering, and this gives a positive message.  

The solo exhibition is free and open to the public up until February 18 at Bluefield College Art Gallery located on the first floor of Lansdell Hall from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.  

Bennington left with this: “As seen from the eye of an artist, each viewer will take from the work what they desire but as a graphic designer I create these pristine artworks to help promote and communicate that pollution in our West Virginia rivers and lakes is a problem. Maybe if we are more aware of how beautiful our surrounding region is, we will be less likely to pollute these environments.”

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