Marissa Lee Benedict doesn’t make art; she creates “propositions.” These are systems—of life, death and transformation—displayed as sculptural apparatuses. They resemble basement laboratories, and they’re where Benedict has grown algae, processed it, fermented its byproducts, and turned it into biodiesel fuel. Her projects are self-described as “insanely overambitious” but this “research junkie” welcomes failures and defects into her contraptions. She is not a scientist, but a naturalist.
Having grown special forms of algae for nearly three years, with a major display in the recent DePaul Art Museum’s “Climate of Uncertainty” exhibition, Benedict is putting algae on hold for a moment. She needs time to reflect, to fine-tune her metaphors. In her forthcoming Threewalls solo exhibition (opening May 3), Benedict debuts an artist book she’s compiled on the concepts of pollinating, distributing, culturing and transforming—all of these are her verbs and metaphors—along with workshops on bookbinding. On view will be a “meta-proposition” that reveals what’s hidden in the thicket of the creative imagination. Says the artist: “There’s an experimental energy in Chicago that feeds my work.” marissaleebenedict.com.