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Gateway to the Arts

April and May 2022

Kirsta Benedetti




Artist Bio

Kirsta Niemie-Benedetti lives and works in Columbus. She started her degree at Maryland Institute College of Art, took a year off to live in India, and finished up her Bachelors of Fine Arts at Columbus College of Art and Design with a focus in painting and installation art.
Currently she is focusing on storytelling through portraiture. Her travels, living abroad, and social justice are often motivations for subject matter.



Exhibition Statement

Stories are valuable both to the teller and the hearer. Through storytelling, the teller has an opportunity to feel known and valued and the hearer receives several gifts from that interaction:  more knowledge, understanding, and most importantly, connection. Storytelling is a way to invite connection between people and build empathy through a new perspective. New Americans (NAs) (immigrants and refugees) that have come to live in the United States face immense barriers in their integration including but not limited to: language barriers, development of social networks, and access to support programs and resources (Ohio’s New Americans, 2018). Further, given the structural issues such as exclusionary policies,  they face, they are often seen as the "others". The strength of a community is in the diversity and connection amongst its residents. However, connecting with those that are different than oneself does not come easily. Storytelling is inherently a collaborative process; how we come to know what we know is always in relation to others and the world. Storytelling can help to bridge the differences and provide an opportunity for connection and community people.

Art, as a unique vehicle for storytelling, adds a depth and dimension to the words shared. It allows people who don’t share the same language to still engage, providing a freedom for the storyteller to transcend their words. Partnering an artist with the experience of storytelling brings a unique approach to connect community members with NAs. The portrait is the chosen focus and method of communication for this artist’s artwork. “Portraitists seek to record and interpret the perspectives and experiences of the people they are studying, documenting their voices and their visions – their authority, knowledge and wisdom” (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. xv). As humans, we are hardwired to respond to faces and they become an invitation to further connection, therefore are a powerful medium for storytelling.

“When you tell a person’s story and you see that gleaming detail of them, and you’re able, even in just that one molecule to tell them truly, so that others connect to them, then you love them. And there’s no going back after that.” (Lauralee Farrer)






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