FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: February 22, 2001

Contact: Lezli Austen

UIS visual arts gallery to host multimedia exhibit by Siona Benjamin

SPRINGFIELD — "Finding Home," a series of paintings and multimedia works by Siona Benjamin, will open Tuesday, February 27, and run through Thursday, March 29, at the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Visual Arts Gallery. Benjamin will give a lecture in the gallery at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, followed by a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The events are free and open to the public.

Benjamin’s exhibit raises questions about what and where "home" is, while evoking such issues as identity, immigration, motherhood, and the role of art in social change. Benjamin is a Sephardic Jew who attended Catholic and Zoroastrian schools while growing up in India, which is predominantly Hindu and Muslim. Her family has gradually dispersed to Israel and America, but her parents remain in India. She is now also an American and lives in Carbondale.

"With such a background, the desire to ‘find home,’ spiritually and literally, has always preoccupied me — a concern that I feel many Americans can relate to, as this comparatively young nation was largely formed by immigrants and their descendants," said Benjamin.

Benjamin has been involved in teaching multiculturalism in schools and communities through the Illinois Arts Council Arts-in-Education program. These cross-cultural projects have helped her develop as an artist.

Benjamin has a diploma in fine arts and a diploma in metals (enameling), both from the J.J. School of Art in Bombay, India; a master of fine arts (emphasis in painting) from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; and a master of fine arts (emphasis in theater set design) from the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.

The Visual Arts Gallery is located in room 201 of the Health and Sciences Building on the UIS campus. Gallery hours are from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For more information about the exhibit or the gallery, contact the gallery at 206-6506.

Benjamin’s lecture is sponsored by the UIS Diversity Task Force.

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