Ben Tolman lives and works in Washington DC. He recieved his MFA in 2012 from American Universiy and his BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2005. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally including being an exhibited finalist in the prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
Artist Statement August 2013
Through art, I create a space for myself to slow down and reflect on this unlikely experience I am embedded within. I am fascinated by with the juxtapositions of the mundane patterns of everyday life and the extraordinary peculiarity of life itself. While going through the repetition of everyday tasks it is easy to forget just how strange and complex life is. I am in constant amazement that life works and this whole unlikely project of existence continues to unfold so flawlessly. In a world that’s constantly moving faster and faster my meticulous ink drawings allow me the space to slow down and explore my circumstances. I was raised in a conservative Mormon family. The meaning of life came in a neat packaged box but fell apart with the slightest bit of scrutiny. Long ago as a child, I abandoned any existing cultural mythology as an explanation for life and have been exploring this mystery, and creating my own mythology through art, ever since. Without any prepackaged creation stories, I have the freedom to just reflect on the mystery, beauty and horror of it all without any prejudice. The more I learn, the stranger everything becomes. But this grandeur of possible thoughts and experiences has to still be tempered with the same mundane tasks and struggles of the daily slog through life that has always been with mankind. The slow process of dense ink drawings allows time to dig out a more subtle understanding of my circumstance and embed that in my work. In my recent work I am exploring the spaces I, and we as a culture, create and inhabit. I am interested in how our constructed environment limits us as well as offering us possibilities. Within this constructed environment, I am further interested in the peculiarities of the individual in relation to the larger culture.