Monday, March 18, 2013

The multi-talented Benedicte Caneill

by, Gloria Hansen

Today I get the pleasure of introducing you to Benedicte Caneill. While she is a bit uncomfortable with the title I wrote, preferring something like "a tale of two countries," Benedicte has such an impressive variety of artistic skills that I'm sticking with my title, which happens to be an understatement.  I hope she forgives me.

Benedicte was born in Paris, raised in Toulouse, France, and has since 1981 been living in New York.  Before becoming a full- time artist, she had a career as a biology teacher in various international schools.  I met Benedicte several years back through art quilt circles and was immediately drawn both to her arresting work and her genuine warmth. It was easy to gravitate towards her each time we'd run into each other at other events, such as during a shibori dyeing class at the Newark Museum or at the celebration weekend for Quilt Visions, and I'm so glad that we've since become friends.

Benedicte Caneill in front of "Units 26: When Botany Meets Geometry"
Ms. Caneill has quite an exotic background, some of which she'll reveal to you in her 8 things list below. I'll share that in a relatively short period of time, Benedicte has managed to achieve several impressive milestones with her art quilt work, most of which I'm still trying for!  For example, in addition to having work in Quilt Visions, she also had work accepted into Quilt National, Art Quilt Elements where she won the SAQA Cream Award, and she has her work on the cover of Quilting Arts Magazine to illustrate a feature written about her!  She also had work in Craftforms. While one could color me envious, her achievements are all very well-deserved and inspiring.

A detail from "Units 26"
I am most familiar with Benedicte's textile work, almost all of which is made from cloth that she first creates.  She starts with either white or black fabric and then will use a variety of surface design techniques (such as dyeing, monoprinting, silk screening, or direct printing) to create layer upon layer of design and pattern.  From this, she will often cut apart and then stitch together the basis of her work. The layers evolve as the piece develops, and can be cut apart again and again. Eventually her final layer will include machine and hand stitching.  The finale is work that pulsates with rhythm and movement, yet has texture and depth.

But art quilt making is just one of her talents. Not only does Benedicte know how to put paint and dye to cloth, but she also knows how to put pen to paper and stylus to iPad! When I received Gwen Diehn's latest book, "The Complete Decorated Journal," I was excited to see images from one of Benedicte's many art journals/sketchbooks gracing the pages.  On another blog I was perusing, I was happy to see Benedicte pictured for work she was doing in MOMA's NYC Print Studio (which concluded in 2012).  These things just scratch the surface.  Currently she has three works at the Windsor Whip Works Art Gallery in NY at a show titled, "Fabulous Fibers and Bewitching Baskets."  She also currently has work at the Blue Door Gallery in NY in a show titled, 'Show and Tell 5," where she  gave a talk.

"Units 24: Going Around in Circles"

detail from "Units 24"
"Marks in the Sand"

I just adore Benedicte. She has such grace and is a beauty, inside and out.  I am also glad that she joined 8 That Create.

Benedicte shares 8 very interesting tidbits about herself. I'm still wow'ing over number 4!

1.  I grew up in Toulouse, France, capital of the European aerospace industry and its gorgeous architecture that is a constant source of inspiration.

2.  I love music, classical, jazz, rock, and folk.  I studied the piano and I have sung all my life in choruses.  I often sing when I paint.

3.  I majored in botany in College, specialized in alpine botany and loved exploring the flora of the Pyrenees Mountains.

4.  I lived in India and studied the classical Indian dance drama called: * Kathakali*.

5.  I love animals, especially dogs.  At one point my husband and I shared our home with two parrots, two cats and three dogs.

6.  Painting is my technique of choice, direct painting, printing, moving paint on a surface can make me forget about eating!

7.  My grand-mother and mother both taught me sewing, embroidery, knitting and crochet.

8.  Walking is my form of meditation and my inspiration very often comes during my walks in nature.



Wonderfully done Gloria, so glad to read about Benedicte. Exciting work, welcome Benedicte !

teri said...

What a wonderful biography of Benedicte. She us even more multi-talented than I knew!

Shirley said...

Love your profile! She is truly amazing and a wonderful friend!

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Indra Imperia said...

Wow!Nice work.
Thanks for sharing about multi-talented Benedicte Caneill.
Very impressive.
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