Stephanie Benassi is a conceptual artist working primarily with photography. She uses photographic images and processes to conceptually engage the contradictions, limitations, and material conditions inherent to the photographic medium. Specific research, travel, and tactile experimentation are developed into gallery installations that incorporate a range of materials and methods including documentary photographs, chemical process-based works, collages, and sculptural elements that together create complex visual and material experiences. Her work draws from a diverse photographic vocabulary and an engagement with the medium’s various historical trajectories in genres such as landscape, forensics, Victorian memento mori, occult, and camera-less photography. Through these diverse refences, materials, and stylistic elements, Benassi investigates the ways in which the material conditions and specialized languages of the photographic medium shape our relations to history, power, and the production of images.
Benassi’s work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (Virginia Beach, VA), New Image Gallery at James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA), The Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery at Broward College (FL), Eckhaus Gallery at Kutztown University (Kutztown, PA), Julio Fine Arts Gallery at Loyola University (Baltimore, MD), Full Circle Gallery (Baltimore, MD), Gallery B (Bethesda, MD), Decker Gallery at Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD) and 1708 Gallery (Richmond, VA). She was selected as a finalist for the 2020 New Waves exhibition at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and the 2019 Bethesda Urban Partnership’s Trawick Prize. She was a semi-finalist for the Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize in 2014 and in 2015. Her art work has been featured on Artworks “Pop-Up Exhibitions” for Maryland Public Television / PBS. She has participated in artist residencies including Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Creative Center for the Arts. Benassi holds an MFA in Photography and Film from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BFA in photography from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
With over a decade of instruction at George Mason University, Benassi has taught a wide range of studio courses and seminars, including beginning and advanced digital and darkroom photography, introduction to New Media, Professional Practices, and Visual Thinking. Benassi’s approach to instruction is akin to a creative think-tank, in which technical understanding is developed in order to compliment the growth of each student artist’s individual creative identity, provide an ethical dimension to their engagement with media, and foster conceptual thinking necessary in pursuit of creative solutions to problems. In addition to teaching at GMU, Benassi has taught courses in photography and time-based media at Virginia Commonwealth University.
She is currently based in Linden, VA where she lives with her husband and son.