Q: You graduated from The Art Center College of Design; do you think there is something to be said about artists who have a college degree?
Carol Bennett: For me, the actual degree has had little impact except for a few teaching jobs perhaps. My art education has proven invaluable however.
Technical and formal training is good but the interaction with working artists in a Metropolitan area, hearing them talk about and demonstrate their conceptual ideologies and the way they saw their work fit into the art historical and geographic context was great. I formed lasting friendships and work connections
Q: You’ve spent most of your life between California and Hawaii, two very different scenes. How are you inspired by each environment?
Carol Bennett: The City keeps me current and challenges me intellectually; Hawaii is spiritually fulfilling and keeps me in tune with nature.
Q: Your “Swimming series” is quite unique as far as how your art captures live motion, how did you come up with the idea originally and how long did it take before you decided to turn it into a series?
Carol Bennett: I was living in a loft in downtown LA and swam laps at the LA Athletic Club, they had an underwater observation room and I'd draw the swimmers... the pool has these skylights that sent beautiful shafts of light streaming through the water. I moved back to Hawaii, I went back and forth for years, and started taking pictures of tourists in pools, made large pastels from them and had my first show, Under Water Colors, at Stones Gallery on Kauai.
Q: How are your models chosen for the series?
Carol Bennett: Those tourists would do random things and I wanted to pose them, so I'd grab girlfriends and would tell them what pose to take and I'd shoot them underwater. That was way back- I'm kind of a control freak and I finally put the camera in someone else's hand and posed for the paintings myself...and have for years and years...just recently I've played with hiring models again.
Q: Is the series here to stay?
Carol Bennett: Yes. I've been done with the swimmers, and returned to them to many times to say otherwise. I always find a way to re- invent, make them fresh and new.
Q: How did you get involved with the project to paint a 48-ft photovoltaic solar canopy for the Hawaii State Art Museum Sculpture Garden?
Carol Bennett: Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (HFCA) held a competition for 3 projects for the new Sculpture Garden at the Hawai'i State Art Museum. I was a finalist for 2 of them and we made complete proposals with models, architectural renderings and budgets, the committee chose my idea for Trigger Picasso Energy. It's inspired by the Picasso Triggerfish and plays on the word Trigger- encouraging people to think creatively about alternative energy. I made it in Germany at Peters Glasmalerei- it was like going on sabbatical.
Q: Do you prefer to work on large scale projects like the solar canopy, or paint for the individual?
Carol Bennett: I like the mix of both- When I'm done installing a big public commission, I just want to get back in my studio. I always learn a lot with these big jobs, travel and see art, get new ideas and want to get them out! In the studio, working on my own stuff, it's just me and the canvas, or panel, or glass, no committees and presentations, no explanations. I'll paint my brains out for a solo show and then feel ready to sojourn out into the world again.
Q: From your early beginnings painting billboards and backdrops in LA, to your work in public landmarks like the art museum, how do you connect to the individual passing by?
Carol Bennett: Show biz was a blast! Earn while you learn! I loved seeing my work at Disney and Universal Studios end up on the big screen. I painted a 20 foot mural for the restaurant in Costa Rica that's in the first 5 min. of Jurassic Park- it's still there! It's with standing and for the public at large. Public Art is often there for the viewer whose intent is not to "see art" Their intent is to go to school, or to the airport and they are kind of confronted with it...and like it, I think!
Q: Does the same apply for the individual taking home one of your paintings?
Carol Bennett: That's different, that person has intentionally entered into a relationship. Acquiring a piece of art is huge and very personal. I think my paintings are truly finished when someone walks up to it and checks it out, because it's a communication. The aficionado who takes that art home becomes its custodian. I love it when I have visiting rights.
Q: For spending so much time on the west coast, how did you get involved with The Eisenhauer Gallery?
Carol Bennett: Elizabeth found me! She tackled me! She had such good energy and absolute conviction that we would be a good fit that I decided to give it a whirl. I came out to Martha's Vineyard and fell in love with her, the gallery and the place.
Q: What can your fans look forward to next?
Carol Bennett: I'm a finalist for a new public art commission so I'm experimenting in the studio while I have the time...experiments can go awry, so I never tell until it's finished!