Benjamin Lowder is known for a unique sculptural and wall-works practice metamorphosing repurposed salvaged materials like vintage signs and weathered barn-wood into complex patterns expressing celestial sacred geometry and deconstructing the visual mechanics of language. The objects are tactile, emotionally warm and rich with nostalgia, even as they actively rearrange the energy patterns of the spaces they occupy. A new show of way-finding totems opens this weekend at Open Mind Art Space in Santa Monica.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
BENJAMIN LOWDER: One of my earliest memories was of creating a mandala-like pattern out of loose change on my parents coffee table when I was around 3 or 4 years old. A teenage babysitter came over to watch me that evening and was amazed by the change mandala. I recalled being both surprised and proud of her reaction. I have done art my entire life in some form or another but about a decade ago I issued myself my “artist license.”
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
I remix the cultural artifacts of vintage metal signage and reclaimed wood into art objects that reference sacred geometry and ancient wisdom traditions. The embodied energy and meaning in the artifacts is transmuted into new objects that express aspirations of an abundant future in alignment with nature and esoteric wisdom.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
That’s tough for me to picture but I’d likely be doing the same thing I’m doing now only under a different title. I’d be some combination of an architect and anthropologist guided by Buckminster Fuller’s concept that “you never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
No I didn’t, I thought of attending the Chicago Art Institute, because my mother had gone there and I loved art, but she encouraged me to get a broader education. I took her advice and at Southern Illinois University, my father’s alma mater, I discovered the legacy of Buckminster Fuller and at the University of Illinois I was introduced to the field of Semiotics which are two of the main ingredients in my current art practice.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
My next show is Wayfinding at Open Mind Art Space in Santa Monica — with an opening reception on Saturday, October 26, 7-10 p.m., and an artist talk and closing reception on Saturday, November 23 at 6:30 p.m. Wayfinding is an exhibition of mythic totems created from transmuted cultural artifacts.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
I would love to show with Rammellzee. The mythology he created combined with the use of abstracted letter forms and his transformation of found objects into works of art has influenced my practice as an artist. While I was designing a home for artist Doze Green in 2010, at Doze’s urging, we were set to go visit Rammellzee at his “Battlestation” in NYC, where I would undergo Rammellzee’s initiation ceremony of being “time stopped.” I was really looking forward to this, when Rammellzee unexpectedly transitioned out of this life before we met.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
I almost always listen to something in the studio, my tastes are pretty varied, but I seem to end up playing Sun Ra more than anything else. I also listen to lectures by Manly P. Hall about as much as I listen to Sun Ra.
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