My artistic style originated far from contemporary art scenes. I was born in north central Kansas, in a small, rural community of Czech immigrants with close relationships to nature through farming, gardening, fishing, and camping. Although I attended public school in Wichita, I always felt like an outsider.
After earning a BFA in painting, I worked as an artist in the schools, teaching visual and performing arts in remote, Alaskan bush villages. Without the distractions of modern life, I traveled far into the frontier of my soul – and enjoyed hiking on the frozen Beaufort Sea. As a form of dreaming-awake, paintings from this time tended to be symbolic and archetypal. The peripatetic lifestyle (and travel in bush planes, skiffs, and snow mobiles) required an art medium that was light weight and quick to dry. I used watercolor and gouache on cotton rag paper.
Before my MFA studies, I traveled through Russia and was a visiting artist at a folk arts college. Many Slavic artists synthesize animist folk beliefs into their fine art creations. The Slavic perception of reality is richly layered. Magic, fantasy, visions, and dreams are interwoven with sensate reality. Nonlinear time, reverie provoking discontinuous space, intuitive combinations, and a belief in the transcendent power of beauty is typical of much Slavic art and my own creations.
After a horseback riding accident that injured my dominant arm, I experimented with collage and reverse-painted glass.
I lived in the Cascade Mountains for 25 years. Recent landscape paintings, inspired by the Pacific Northwest and travel in the Southwest, are rooted in Romanticism while sometimes integrating elements of magic realism.
At this point in my life, making art is an act of service. Although I have worked in many different art media (visual arts, creative writing, theater, dance, music, and multi-media performance), I am primarily a painter. During daily meditation, I invite the spirits of nature to enter me and speak through me. I create compelling doorways through which onlookers enter visionary realms. In this liminal state, my audience experiences awe-inspiring moments of beauty while undergoing expansive and integrative, meaning-making creative processes of their own. They are simultaneously connecting intimately to self, the eternal cycle of life, and the cosmic soul of nature through which we are all together traveling.
As an artist in residence at Botanica, I will be immersed in deliberately designed natural beauty, open to inspiration as I listen to the spirits of the garden, guided by their requests. I’m eager to learn how they want to be portrayed in art, so that their souls and wisdom can be shared with you.
PhD in humanistic and transpersonal psychology, Saybrook University.
Graduate certificate in the psychology of creativity, Saybrook University.
MA psychology, Saybrook University.
MFA painting, University of Washington.
BFA painting, Wichita State University.
Pilchuck Glass School.
Training in dance (ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic) and vocals (jazz, blues).
Public art collections:
University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA.
Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA.
Arts in Public Places, Olympia, WA.
King County Ethnic Heritage Collection, WA.
Snoqualmie Point Park, WA.
The Glass Museum, Ebeltoft, Denmark.
Past curated group shows include:
Redefining Visionary Art, New York City.
Bellevue Art Museum.
Sun Valley, ID,
Santa Fe, NM,
Portland, OR, and
Botanica, Wichita, KS, artist in residence, through OpenStudios program managed by Fisch Bowl, Inc.
Creativity and Madness Conference, Mary Lou Panter scholarship, Santa Fe, NM.
Presidential Scholarship and Alumni Scholarship, Saybrook University.
Alfred G. and Elma M. Milotte Art Scholarship, Atlanta, GA.
Seclef-Hoetzel Scholars Merit Award, Chicago, IL.
Pilchuck Glass School, full scholarship.
W.W. Stout Fellowship, University of Washington, Seattle.
Ucross Foundation, WY, artist in residence.
Kansas Board of Regents Scholarships, Wichita State University.
Miller Art Scholarships, Wichita State University.
City of Wichita Art Scholarships.
Wichita Board of Education, full scholarship to Wichita Art Association (now MARK Arts).
I’ve also worked on films, directed radio plays, and created solo or collaborative multi-media performances (University of Alaska, Anchorage; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; University of Wyoming; University of Northern Iowa Museum of Art; McPherson College, KS; and Wichita State University). PowerPoint lectures integrate simple animation and performance art, with presentations including the Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, Poland. I'd include runway modeling for I. Magnin's and Nordstrom's as some of my past creative work.
For 18 years, I was a devoted educator, teaching arts in remote Native villages in the Alaskan bush. I taught visual arts at a fine arts/folk art college of visual arts, music, and dance in Pskov, Russia, and visual arts, performance, mural painting, art history, and mythology with college students in Alaska and Washington.
My research focuses on contemporary artists as shamans, with publications in China, Hungary, Poland, and the USA. (Read open sour publications at https://saybrook.academia.edu/DenitaBenyshekPhDMFA). My description of the initiation ritual is part of a forthcoming anthology, Trans-Disciplinary Migrations: Science, the Sacred, and the Arts, Cambridge Scholars, UK.
I enjoy singing jazz and blues, swimming in calm lakes, playing piano, gardening, long conversations with friends, taking the poodles for long walks, and watching superhero movies with my son
I recently moved my home, family, and art studio into the Crown Heights neighborhood in Wichita, Kansas.