New York Times previews exhibition featuring art by UW–Madison alumna

The work of UW–Madison alumna Rita Benissan was spotlighted in the New York Times recently in their article previewing the Gallery 57 exhibition, “Constellations, Part 1: Figures on Earth & Beyond.”

“Constellations, Part 1,” which opened March 14 in the Ghana-based Gallery 57’s London outpost, “brings together emerging and established artists from within the gallery’s program and beyond, celebrating the creative communities in Ghana and the United Kingdom, and cultural exchanges across the planet.”

The gallery, named after the year the West African country of Ghana gained independence, “has become an integral player in the African contemporary art landscape,” since its founding eight years ago, the New York Times explains.

The group show highlights “some of the gallery’s freshest talent,” according to the New York Times, featuring eight artists from across the African continent and its diaspora, including Benissan, who earned her MFA from the School of Education’s Art Department in 2020.

Benissan (Photo: Nii Odzenma, via Gallery 1957)

Benissan founded the Si Hene Foundation that works to preserve Ghana’s chieftaincy and traditional culture, notes the New York Times, and a residency with Gallery 57 led to her first solo show last May at the gallery’s Gallery II space in Accra.

In the article Benissan, whose work re-examines Ghana’s culture of ceremonial umbrellas, speaks about the experience of working with the gallery’s founder, Marwan Zakhem. She says he was “was very hands-on and very invested” in decisions, and in “making sure that the vision I had came to be.”

“Constellations, Part 1” will be on view through May 25. Benissan will also have a solo show at Cape Town’s Zeitz MOCAA in November.

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