“In the "Mask" series, I use animal masks to transform into a character or beast, exploring primal instincts and animal attributes. As I spend time analyzing, drawing, and observing the character, role-playing can transform into reality; the animalistic persona can then become part of my identity. These drawings also use posing, nudity and stylization to investigate models of beauty, femininity, elegance and tropes of portraiture.”- Melissa Cooke Benson
Melissa Cooke Benson earned an MFA in 2008 from the University of Wisconsin and lives and works in Minneapolis, MN. Her work has been featured nationally in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Purdue University and Brenau University. Recent group exhibitions include The Yellowstone Art Museum, The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NE, and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. Cooke Benson has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including being selected as the Artist in Residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in 2011, a BLINK Grant award from the Madison Arts Commission, and a Wisconsin Idea Undergraduate Fellowship in 2004. Her work resides in the esteemed collection of the Arkansas Art Center, The Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Wisconsin Union Permanent Art Collection.