Ben Venom, Medium of Choice

Ben Venom is an artist whose dark works inspire rather than frighten. His amalgamation of textures, media, subjects and approaches reveal truths about our common history with an attitude that is not sentimental. He let me into his lair and I asked him a bunch of questions.

Obi: Where do you come from? Why San Francisco?

BV: I am originally from the Deep South…Atlanta, GA. I moved to San Francisco in 2004 to attend the M.F.A. program at the San Francisco Art Institute. After receiving my degree I began teaching Printmaking courses for the City Studio Program at S.F.A.I.

Obi: How did you reconcile such an American tradition like quilting with Heavy metal?

BV: Well… that was the point. Bring two completely different interests together as one. In 2006 I saw the Gee’s Bend quilting exhibition at the Dee Young Museum and was immediately interested in quilting. I have been incorporating sewing and stitching in my work for many years in some form…i.e. flags and banners. While looking through my closet I noticed I had a lot of vintage Heavy Metal T-shirts that were literally falling apart. I grew up listening to Punk Rock and Heavy Metal. I knew I would never throw these shirts away but wanted to display them. I thought about how even the most die hard Head bangers need a good blanket to sleep with…how about a Heavy Metal Quilt!

Obi: Is there a rift between your fine art work, your graphic work and your print work?

BV: I feel they are all connected and derive from the same source. One inspires the other and vice versa. I tend to get bored working within one particular medium for too long and find it refreshing to do something different. When I am preparing for an exhibition I tend to think in terms of ideas and not necessarily medium. Whatever the initial idea calls for will ultimately be the medium of choice.

Obi: What is on the agenda for 2010?

BV: New work on the horizon! Live Fast….Diaherra!

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