We had the good fortune of connecting with Benjamin Wightman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Benjamin, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Quest of Sages is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower individuals, causes and organizations across the globe through innovative storytelling and collaboration with the arts. The organization was built around a multidisciplinary personal art project that will require me to travel to every country in the world, photograph one person from each, have them paint a line across their portrait and display the images in an installation by connecting the photographs together by joining the line segments. The final work will have created one unbroken line, in which the entire world painted, laid on top of their photographs. The project blurs the line between artist and subject by promoting cross-cultural collaborative art.

I learned early on that to facilitate this project, I needed to enlist the help of local organizations and institutions that could shed light on local cultures and provide contacts. In return for seeking guidance from these local NGOs, I wanted a way to give back that stayed true to my belief that art has the power to raise awareness to causes and social issues on a global level. Quest of Sages works with organizations in each country to help pair them with local artists who, in turn, conceptualize their own project that positively impacts the community.

At the conclusion of the project, we will have worked in 195 countries and helped them raise their presence in the world through the arts. Currently I have travelled to 8 countries (Mexico and Central America). We are actively working on one project in Nicaragua while developing project proposals for the other 7. It is my hope that the promotion of humanitarian efforts through the telling of a personal, real life journey to every country in the world will help inspire other artists to explore how their imagination and creation can benefit society as a whole.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My work blends photography with painting, but in a uniquely collaborative way. I photograph portraits of individuals and ask them to paint on a blank sheet of paper. Sometimes there is a theme, sometimes I ask them to paint whatever they would like. I then blend their paintings onto their portraits in various ways. Some are done digitally, some are printed directly on the painting themselves. What excites me most about this work is being able to look into someone’s eyes while simultaneously seeing a part of their creative soul. I’m still emerging as an artist. It definitely is easier being a commercial photographer, but passion and tenacity carry me forward. My artwork seems to address what I feel like I’m lacking in my life. The work is about human connection and the promotion of cultural identity. Embarking on a literal and figurative journey around the world to complete a narrative bigger than myself is as terrifying as it is exhilarating. I hope to blend this narrative of real world experiences with a fantastical version that is going on in my head.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One day would definitely be brunch in Venice, a bike ride to Santa Monica for the afternoon and sunset drive to Malibu. Aside from all of the traditional hotspots (Rodeo, Griffith, Hollywood Sign etc.) I love taking visitors down to Orange County.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to Saints Orphanage International, an orphanage located in Nairobi, Kenya. My experience with their organization back in 2017 changed the trajectory of my life completely. I was in the middle of an 8 month long, 30 country adventure when I connected with them. Going into this trip, it was my goal to become a commercial architectural photographer specializing in luxury hospitality accommodations around the world. After a week spent at SOI and conceptualizing my first mixed-media project blending photography and painting, there was no turning back. I abandoned all plans to expand my commercial photography career and decided to become an artist. It was this project that led to Quest of Sages, and I owe a lot of who I’ve become to my experience with them.

Website: www.questofsages.org

Instagram: questofsages

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