Benares lives in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. She is a teacher/artist/mama.
What years were you a core student?
Who were you a core student with?
I came in with Laurencia Strauss, Meredith Brickell, Ronan Peterson, Brian (glassblower, only stayed one year) and Darryll Maleike. We were welcomed by Zack Noble, Rebecca Carter, Eleanor Gould, and John Andrew. The second year we were joined by Celia Grey, April Franklin, Jeanine Marchand, Kelly O'Briant, Matthew Thomason, and Eric Dekker.
Are you still in touch with any of your fellow core students?
Yes! I met up with Meredith Brickell a couple weeks ago in Maine, Laurencia Strauss was at my house for dinner two nights ago, and Celia Grey is coming up from New Jersey to visit next weekend. I also hear from Eleanor Gould, Ronan Peterson, and Eric Dekker. My friends from Core probably know me better than anyone.
What was your best moment as a core student?
It's hard to identify one best moment, but there were some great days when everything just seemed to fall into place: walking to campus from Morgan early on a Fall morning, a treat from the coffee house before the first demo of the day, an inspiring class, not having to wait in line for lunch at the Pines, a productive day in the studio, and a cold PBR with fellow Core students on the back porch at the end of the day.
What was your worst?
Probably when the short-lived head chef threatened to punch me in the face for making too much soup.
Also, when we (I was a weekend cook both years) failed to cut up enough berries for dessert and there was an angry mob of students outside the kitchen shouting for more berries and banging their bowls and spoons on the tables ( I could be exaggerating a tiny bit, but not much). Ronan and Eleanor and I huddled in the kitchen together, preparing to protect ourselves with Pearl's row of off-limits knives.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
The dye shed porch, the back porch at Morgan, the "secret" picnic table behind the Pines.
What was your favorite meal at the Pines?
Mediterranean Day, soup and fancy sandwiches. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I loved my job as a weekend cook, and learned so much from working with Ronan, Eleanor, and Celia.
What was your least favorite?
Do you still have anything that you made as a core student? Or anything that you traded for?
I still have a box of oddly dyed weavings in my studio. I can't get rid of them because I made them while I was a core student. I have many precious things that I traded for or were given to me...candlesticks from Zack, dishes from Meredith and Ronan, belt buckles from Celia, a great drawing from Eric, a handmade book from Matthew, just to name a few. Penny (my two year old) always asks, "Who made this?" when I hand her a dish or a shirt or just about anything, because chances are, someone DID make the item by hand. I love that she associates most objects with making by hand.
What class you took had the most impact on you? Did you realize it at the time?
I think every class I took impacted me in some way, but Mina Takahashi's Japanese paper making class was very important to my development as a teacher and artist. I am not a paper maker, but the processes I learned in this class continue to inform my working habits and daily life. I think it's nearly impossible to realize how much Penland will effect you until you're not there anymore.
Is there something that you learned in the core program that you never expected to learn?
I think I really internalized the idea that I am able to do anything and get along with anyone. I met so many different people while at Penland and tried so many different things. When you're a core student, you bounce around a lot; one minute you're welcoming a world renowned artist to campus, and the next minute you're scrubbing a shower curtain with a toothbrush. These kind of discrepancies have led me to be flexible, friendly, and jump into just about any project that I need to undertake.
Tell us about someone you met through the core program who you'll never forget?
This question has been stumping me for a while now. Of course my fellow core students inspired me everyday, and many of them continue to be my touchstones in this world. Also, I can't imagine my life unfolding as it has, if it weren't for the wise and humorous advice of Leslie Noell. She really encouraged me to go to graduate school and her home was a safe haven in those post-core days. Outside of those folks, my group of core students was lucky enough to work with Christina Schmigel during one Fall. She opened my eyes to what my work was all about and what it could be about. Preparing for her class was exciting, and she was able to spark so many wonderful conversations in such a gentle manner. She influenced my teaching methods as well as my art making methods and taught me how to really look at my own artwork.
What are you doing today?
Today I am first and foremost a mama to Penelope, while awaiting the birth of Baby #2. I also teach part-time at an arts-based primary grade school, teach music and movement classes for kids four and under, teach private sewing lessons for adults, and try to make things in my studio betwixt and between everything else.