ArtCenter College of Design | Pasadena, California | Learn to Create. Influence Change.

Tyler Bennett

Fine Art

What was your background prior to Art Center?
Previous to Art Center, I studied Graphic Design and Sociology in San Diego. My background is in social justice work, specifically diversity retreats for high school students through an organization called NCCJ.

What is the biggest creative challenge/breakthrough you’ve faced while at Art Center?
When I came to Art Center I was highly proficient in my chosen field. I knew how to communicate my ideas, to have them liked by faculty, and create work that was cool and adhered to the school’s finish fetish. But it wasn’t the kind of work that maximized my potential. I learned that work on-trend doesn’t last and that swimming downstream with the rest of the fish is not the way to facilitate change. Now what I do pushes past my comfort zone, takes risks, bucks the norm and tells the story that needs to be told. I have learned to be vulnerable. Instead of approaching each day with ‘what can I bring to this situation?’ I ask ‘what does this person/place/situation need?’ Today I work less from a place of design colonization and work towards stewardship. I ask ‘why’ instead of ‘what’ or ‘how.’

How do you hope to change the world through your work?
I hope to spread grace and hope through art and social action.

Describe a memorable project, from conception to ideation to production.
During a term off from Art Center, I took the opportunity to take Installation Concepts with Laura Cooper through the Art Center at Night Program. I knew that I wanted to do an installation on the bridge at Hillside. And I walked the span most every day asking myself how I could alter the the way people moved through the space, slow down the pace of travel, help the bridge show off its magnificent beauty.

I hand painted 478’ of red rosin paper into 31 panels, each in a different color assembled into a perfect gradient. This project became the beginning of my coming out story, as the colors subconsciously represented my gender transition, and my transition into the Fine Art Program and into large-scale installation and performance work. I gained a confidence to do work in the public eye that was more ambitious than I had been previously encouraged to do. I found in that space, as people would walk towards me, turn around and smile, that I could use my past knowledge of flow-based design together with new thinking to create spectacular, innovate, approachable work beyond what my former methodology could achieve.

Have you taken part in any student orgs or campus activities at Art Center?
I am the President of Art Center’s Student Government, President of the Student Union and have been actively involved in many clubs and organizations around campus. I find these less-academic spaces a great way to talk to people in a less formal way, make friends, and be heard.

Tell us something about yourself people might find surprising?
I get ten hours of sleep a night. I take time to cook, go out with friends on occasion. I take a whole day off a week. I also get all my work done.

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