January 31, 2002
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Siona Benjamin, a Jewish artist from Bombay, India, will present a mixed-media performance called “Spicy Girl—Finding Home and the Dilemma of Belonging” in Room 115 of Fayerweather Hall at Amherst College, on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. This event is sponsored by Amherst and Smith Hillel and is free and open to the public.

Siona Benjamin is a multimedia artist of multi-cultural identity. She wrote of an earlier mixed-media work, “ I remember the ornate synagogues of my childhood, the oil lamps, the velvet- and silver-covered torahs, a chair left vacant (for whom, I always wondered). I am a Sephardic Jew from India, my ancestors came from the Middle East (and perhaps from Spain) centuries ago. Having grown up in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim society, having been educated in Catholic and Zoroastrian schools and now living in America, I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived.”

Benjamin has received numerous awards and grants for her work, including a Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Grant in 2001.

Last year The Boston Globe wrote that her “Finding Home” series, “inspired by Indian miniature painting, Byzantine icons, Jewish religious art, and the tantric art of ancient India, puts herself at its center. She engages in mythic ritual, as if trying to integrate all the pieces of herself into a sensible whole… Benjamin’s paintings are bold and packed with symbolism.”

Benjamin holds a MFA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne with an emphasis on theater and set design. She now teaches at the School of Art and Design, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. See her Website.