We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeanette Benitez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeanette, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Art has always been a part of my life since I was a little kid. I began to draw at the age of 7 drawing classic cartoon characters. By age 13, I was gifted one of those art kits that came equipped with markers, graphite, color pencils, crayons, watercolors, oil, and acrylic paint. That gift alone, helped me experiment with different mediums. By the age of 15, I began to learn how to use adobe photoshop/lightroom/illustrator when digital art was starting to become a whole thing, and it is crazy to see how far digital art has come along nowadays. Also, around that time I began to take a lot of pictures with a point-and-shoot digital camera which I took on trips or at any gathering I attended. By the time I attended college, I fell in love with art history and pursued that as well as studio art. In the fall of 2019, I had the pleasure to work with a small group of people on an exhibition at California State Northridge entitled “Ex/Ordinary” exhibiting works from contemporary Chinese artist Wen fang. This was her first exhibiting show in the United States after having many shows in China and France. It was a great experience to work for an exhibition team on installation, having filmed a documentary and to have been published in the exhibition catalogue. I’m currently traveling to new places out of my hometown and it has been quite the experience I’ve been capturing with my camera ranging from landscapes, street photography and seeking abandoned structures. As you can see, art has always been and will always be something I am passionate about.
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.
I have three things that I represent in my artworks and they are history, abandonment, and leading lines. For example, most of my photographs I like to show history in them and that comes from my passion and education in history and art history with a press of the shutter button I am recording a moment in time. You may never know when a particular place will close and be replaced with another, or when an object is removed from the spot they were in. Things come and go. When I’m on the road traveling and see an abandoned structure, I will stop to walk around and safely walk inside. I picture what that place once was, and ask myself, who lived there? what was the purpose?, and when was it around and for how long? I like for my viewers to see my artwork with leading lines I compose in my photographs and paintings. I want the viewers eyes to move across the image from implied direction and movement whether it be through an architecture, color or shadow. Personally, I am most proud of getting out of my comfort zone by pushing myself to uncharted territory especially when I’m on trips. It’s scary to travel somewhere I’ve never been before. I don’t know what to expect on my way there or when I get to the destination. So, having my camera on me allows me to capture those moments and record a place and time. I am also most proud of my progress over the years and how much my artwork has changed and how my technical skills have improved. From time to time, I often look back at my portfolios and compare it with what I am working with now which is an exciting thing to see. I got to where I am today by gaining experience and meeting like-minded people who support one another through confidence, motivation, and productivity. The lessons I learned along the way is to take advantage of opportunities that are out there and that is to learn, improve and do more. Also, be patient with your art and ideas, there is no need to rush, like the saying goes “patience is a virtual”. I want everybody to know that there is a project that I have been working on for three years now and ongoing. The project revolves around the San Fernando Valley where I photograph and document the valley which can be viewed on Instagram @sfvalleyphotos
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take my friend around the San Fernando Valley. In a day, we would first go to the $10 or less bookstore in Northridge to scoop up some incredible deals on books. Second, go to MB2 Raceway in Sylmar to catch a friendly competition on go-karts. Third, hit up Sound Studio in Van Nuys for a jam session on guitars, drums, bass, and vocals covering the classic hits. Fourth, go to Freakbeat Records in Sherman Oaks to purchase CDs, vinyl, etc. Finally, the last thing we would do for the day is to go eat anywhere in Sherman Oaks, there are just so many restaurants to choose from. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shout-out to my family for giving me a sketch pad, art supplies, art books, cameras and art software programs to use over the years which led me to where I am now. I would also like to give a shout-out to my friends, classmates, and professors for always being supportive, and for always giving all the feedback to improve my skills. I am appreciative of everyone.