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The Meeting Point


The Meeting Point is featured as the first exhibition for The Ritz Gallery's 2004-05 academic year at South Dakota State University. The exhibition, which runs through October 8, 2004, features 17 of assistant professor Fatih Benzer's works.

Benzer, who teaches all painting and drawing classes, along with art education and art appreciation at SDSU, describes his works as two different approaches. "I use my artwork to study both figure and nature to create a fine balance between abstraction and representational," he said. "I also use what's called contemporary iconography, which is symbols that are a combination of both western and eastern cultures." (right: Fatih Benzer poses with two of 17 works in his exhibition "The Meeting Point," on display in the Ritz Gallery at SDSU through Oct. 8. On his right is one of three in a piece titled "On the Corner." On his left is "Appearances #2.")

Benzer grew up in Izmir, Turkey, but has spent most of the last 10 years in the United States, studying at different universities around the nation. He received his doctorate in art education from Arizona State University and his master's degree in painting from California State University. Before he came to SDSU from Turkey in 2003, Benzer had been a department chair in Mustafa Kemal University in Antakya.

"I feel like I'm in between both eastern and western cultures, which is both similar and different at times," Benzer said. "I like to find a meeting pointbetween the two in my art. It's like building a bridge between the two cultures."

Norman Gambill, director of The Ritz Gallery and head of the Department of Visual Arts, says Benzer's talent and diversity is a big asset to SDSU. "His wide range of American and Turkish artistic experiences brings in-depth diversity to our students at SDSU," Gambill said.

Benzer says the source of his inspiration is literally anything, especially architecture and music as much as visual arts. However, Benzer says he does tend to be drawn to buildings and likes to study the shapes and angles involved to create a sense of space.

Benzer hopes people will look at his work and become inspired by the imagery and the stories behind them. "I want people to see the connection and common points in my works that also represent a connection for their own experiences and stories," he said. "I want my paintings to open up discussions."

One of the paintings that will be displayed for discussion is entitled "Catch." The two main forms in "Catch" are a fish and an outreached hand. Benzer says to him, the fish represents a feeling of isolation and the hand represents reaching out to hope.

Benzer says that, of the 17 pieces featured in the exhibition, seven or eight are iconographic, like "Catch;" the rest are figure and nature oriented. One example of figure and nature is a painting of a street with houses close together, with a huge tree as a backdrop. "This is South Dakota to me," Benzer says. "I call it 'Appearances #2.'"

Another example is a piece with three figures called "On The Corner." This one is full of color. "I like to use different variations of colorful and not very colorful," Benzer said. "That way I don't limit myself."

Benzer will be available for questions regarding his works at The Ritz Gallery during the closing public reception Friday, October 8 from 4:30 p.m.to 6:30 p.m.

The Ritz Gallery is located on the campus of South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD.

For hours and admission fees please see the Gallery's website.


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