Medicine Cabinet: New Works by Ben Hamburger
Opening Reception: Friday, February 8th
From 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Hidden behind bathroom mirrors and off limits to curious guests, medicine cabinets are where we keep our personal tools to cope, to live, and to thrive. Yoga, meditation apps, social media, antidepressants, sage sticks, and magic mushrooms. How do we choose our remedies? When are they helpful tools and when do they consume us?
This body of work is inspired by the mystery of depression. I know it is too often simplified, misrepresented, and overprescribed. But I don’t know what it is, why I experience it, or how to get rid of it. The older I get, the more I realize life is a process of searching for more, making additions and alterations to our lifestyles and belief systems to get closer to true freedom of the spirit. If depression, like happiness, is fleeting, maybe the only constant is our pursuit for something better.
A brief trip to Joshua Tree, CA impacted both the content and imagery in the paintings. Most of the people depicted in the paintings are friends I spent time with on that trip. While exploring the national park, I was captivated by the rock formations. As we walked through rugged crevasses and clambered up boulders, I found forms in the rocks; completely frozen, but charged with mass, power, and grace. And I felt at peace. I wanted to bring that sense of duality to my paintings; infusing strength, adventure, and beauty to my paintings of people trapped within the confines of their frame.
Discussions around mental health, like politics and identities, are routinely flattened into binaries and categories. I wanted to concentrate on the many contrasting elements that simultaneously exist within us. My self-portrait may look like me at my worst, but every brushstroke that generates the picture is an indication of me at my most alive, dynamic, and free. Things are often two different things at once, and that’s what makes life worth living.
Ben Hamburger is a painter, socially engaged artist, and educator, based in North Carolina. Hamburger has a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts from Eckerd College and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Community Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). In 2018, Hamburger was the recipient of an Orange County Arts Council Artist Grant and his work was awarded First Place in Orange County’s annual Plein Air Painting Event. Hamburger’s work has been exhibited internationally in numerous group and solo exhibitions and is part of the permanent collection of the City of New Orleans, Tulane Medical School and private collections around the world. In addition to working as a teaching artist at The Arts Center and Durham Arts Council, Hamburger has taught in schools, universities, cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations around the United States, as well as Bolivia, Thailand, and India.
Exhibition Runs February 3rd-28th, 2019