Published: Nov. 4, 2011

Faculty conversations: Benjamin Duke

Contact(s): Meghan Spork University Relations Student Writer cell: (248) 250-3743

Two months ago, Benjamin Duke opened an artist studio space in Lansing.

Duke, assistant professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design, is one of eight artists in Fourth Culture Studios located in the John Bean Building in downtown Lansing. The studio contains 12 working spaces for artists, and currently houses everything from photographers to sculptors to painters.

"Our intention is just to concentrate our energies so that we can collaborate and create a community that is filled with art energy, and hopefully we can just rely on each other to discover new ideas and create new works," he said.

Duke's position at Michigan State University focuses on teaching students the foundation of art. He teaches classes on painting and drawing, but his emphasis is in foundation: color, design and drawing.

His current area of research is in painting, but Duke does some sculptural forms. He is primarily interested in creating narratives that are disjunctive, which means that his works utilize seemingly opposite or disjoined elements. His main strategy for this is to create moments of fissure in a painting.

"I would set up an expectation of a particular kind of environment for example and then enter into that environment something that doesn't fit," he said.