Al Benkin aka Mutantland is an assemblage artist, painter and stuffed animal maker. Benkins paintings & assemblages are stories laden with visual language/iconography inspired by real life & personalized myths. The content varies from political/personal satire to a sort of comedy of the absurd. Al uses found objects aka “Happy Ghosts” a term from her Grandmother, painter Juanita Beenken, which she transforms/second-lifes into other things/meanings autonomous from intended origin. Sometimes elements of animistic fetishism like hair, teeth & blood can be found hidden in Al’s work instilling it with nostalgia/evidence of time & impermanence. Benkin studied under Bernhard Vennekohl, retired master carpenter and American folk painter Harry Folsom- both in NYC. Some artists Al loves are: Betye Saar, Catherine Bothwell, Vanessa German, Greer Lakton, Wangechi Mutu, Genesis P-Orridge, Bernice Sokol Kramer, JP Mika, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, Mackaline Thomas, Frida Kahlo, Scooter LaForge, Annie Sprinkle, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yoko Ono, Jacklyn Brown, Dieter Roth, Louis Borgeous, James Ensor (late work only) & Hans Belmer. Al has found all above artists to inspire & excel at trancending words in storytelling.
Benkin has shown nationally and internationally for the past 20 years. Some highlights are “Mutantland Drinks the Kool Aide” her solo show at Cult ‘party NYC’s debut in Sept 2017, “Nuances of Story Telling” a three person show with painters Jaclyn Brown & Cecelia Roberts at Tribes Gallery in LES NYC. She also showed with Artujillo in Minneapolis, MN with the late great painter Americo Juan and was invited to be in a curated international show “The Doll’s of Lisbon, in Portugal with NYC's Antagonist Movement. Al was involved with NYC’s Antagonist Art Movement for a number of projects including guest curating “Ghost Dreaming in NYC” in Aug of 2011. Benkin has been written up in Pinned NYC, “Pulse of the Twin Cities”, featured for interviews on Fox Channel 5’s Butterfly Marketplace, Lower East Side Live and Antagovision. Benkin's published in the annual art magazine “A Gathering of Tribes” issue #13. She won Artist of the Month through Art Bazaar at Lyons Weir in May 2010 & her curatorial debut was at a pop up gallery/event space named Burnt Kitty Vactory in Sept 2010, She also co-curated pop-up shows like “Hypnagosia” in NYC Fall of 2012, Curated "Urban Influence" at Third Eye Gallery in Bushwick Brooklyn June 2013, Floating Gallery’s “Namaste-ish” with artist Lindsay Rheiner in The French Quarter in Nov 2014, and a group doll shoe jan 2016 at Birdies Gallery in New Oleans. In the fall of 2016 she accepted position as resident artist and curator of Cul Party NYC. She is currently represented by Cult Party NYC and Pleiades Contemporary Art Gallery in Chelsea NYC.