Kiranada Sterling Benjamin profile:
While I move more and more into the contemplative aspects of art, painting with “hot wax and liquid dyes on thirsty cloth” is an apt way to describe the work I have done for almost fifty years. My background in fibers includes graduate studies, training in the Japanese kimono industry, research in the traditional Japanese classical arts and meditative time on the cushion.
My work reflects eighteen years of life in Kyoto, life in Indonesia, Mexico and New England as well as a year in solitude, 2014 — 2015, in a small hut in a New Zealand wilderness.
I continue to work with applied dyes, and hot wax on silk; a meditative process for me; centering and ecstatic; both planned and spontaneous. I work with color and pattern, layering and mark making with resist-dye techniques, using the materials of acid and natural dyes, ahimsa (non-harm) silk fabric and ganryo pigment.
In the past many images for my work came from textile research, ancient craft traditions, natural surroundings and a delight in process; however a 2015 exhibition focused on making ‘silence visable’. This follows an interest in the spiritual qualities of cloth, transformation that began with the creation of a series of seven kesa (Buddhist monastic robes) now in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem MA. These cloths of healing and unity encouraged me to present my work in a freer form, as images for meditation on flowing layered silk.
My work is a centering and a meditation in this diverse world.
Conversation with the Maker(CWTM): Do you have a dedicated studio?
Kiranada Sterling Benjamin(KSB):After returning from Japan in 2000, I realized that I was living in a very small cottage and working in the living room. A Japanese friend, who greatly supports my art, financed a free-standing 20’ x 20’ studio to work in, the following spring. It’s still unfinished but I can work there from April to November before the snows come. It has cabinets, storage, tables, wall space to hang partially completed work for assessment and an area to work seated on the floor. My electric wax pot is nearby and my work is stretched across the room, the way I worked in Japan. The big 7’ steamer slips out the door and I load it to steam the silk on the porch. So ideal.