The Krum Gallery
celebrating Jewish & American refugee and immigrant art

Siona Benjamin

Emigrated from Mumbai, India to Montclair, NJ in 1986.

I am inspired by traditional styles of painting, like Indian/Persian miniatures, Byzantine icons and Jewish and Christian illuminated manuscripts, but I blend these ancient forms with pop cultural elements from our times to create a new vocabulary of my own. Using the rich colors of gouache I apply layers, literally with the paint, as well as metaphorically with the content.

My painting is my ritual, my celebration, my essence. My research and ideas flow simultaneously together and make up the fabric of my work. I use gouache paints and 22K gold leaf to form layers of jewel like color. My background in painting, enameling on metal and theater set design all influence my work. My characters are real as they act out contemporary situations and dilemmas, while also celebrating my womanhood, my abilities, my strengths and my ambitions. The ornateness of the culture from which I came once seemed difficult and unnecessary to apply in my work. Now I have found a way to use it, to be able to weave current issues and parts of my life in its intricacies, thus making this ornateness strong and meaningful. In this way, I attempt to create a dialogue between the ancient and the modern, forcing a confrontation of unresolved issues.

I am an artist originally from Bombay, India, of Bene Israel Jewish descent. My work reflects my background and the transition between my old and new worlds. Having grown up in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim society, having been educated in Catholic and Zoroastrian schools, having been raised Jewish and now living in America, I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived. In this transcultural America I feel a strong need to make art that will speak to my audience of our similarities, not our differences as I feel I can contribute to a much-needed "repair" (Tikkun) through my art. I would like my audience to re-evaluate their notions and concepts about identity and race, thus understanding that such misconceptions could lead to racism, hate and war.



Siona has her first MFA in painting and a second MFA in Theater set design.

She has exhibited in the US, Europe, and Asia. She recently was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2010-11 for an art project titled: Faces: Weaving Indian Jewish Narratives. Research for this project is to be conducted in India.

Her work has been featured in: The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Jewish Week in NYC and NJ, The Boston Globe, Art in America, Art New England, Art and Antiques, and Moment magazine.

Siona's Artwork (25)

Fereshtini #8, 2007
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on board
11 in (h) x 9 in (w)

Finding Home #88 "Lilith" (Fereshteh), 2008
Gouache, 22K gold paint, and mixed media on museum board
37 in (h) x 20.5 in (w)

Finding Home #90, 91, 92 "Hear no, See no, Speak no Evil" (Fereshteh), 2006
Gouache on paper
3 panels, each 6.5 in (h) x 5 in (w)

Finding Home #93 "Mahalat" (Fereshteh), 2006
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on paper
22 in (h) x 22 in (w)

Finding Home #94, 95, 96 "Ishmael, Abraham and Isaac" (Fereshteh), 2008
Gouache and mixed media on museum board
3 panels, each 19 in (h) x 16 in (w)

Finding Home #97, 98 "Trap & Release," 2008
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on wood panel and mixed media
2 panels, each 17 in (h) x 12 in (w)

Finding Home #99 "Lilith in Pardes," 2008
Gouache on museum board
11 in (h) x 8.5 in (w)

Finding Home #102 "Lilith" (Fereshteh), 2008
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on wood panel and mixed media
57 in (h) x 45.5 in (w)

Frame execution and collaboration with

Finding Home #103 "Sarah" (Fereshteh), 2008
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on paper
18 in (h) x 15 in (w)

Lilith in the New World, 2007
Installation, mixed media
Dimensions variable, approximately 120 (h) x 144 in (w) x 48 in (d)

Pantomime in Pardes, 2007
Installation, digital light box and mixed media
Dimensions variable, lightbox 24 in (h) x 30 in (w) x 2 in (d)

Finding Home #87 "Lilith" (Fereshteh), 2008
Gouache and mixed media on museum board
23 in (h) x 18 in (w)

Finding Home #86 "Chava," 2008
Gouache on museum board
12.5 in (h) x 8.5 in (w)

Finding Home # 80 "Lilith" (Fereshteh), 2006
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on wood panel
38 in (h) x 24 in (w)

Finding Home #28, 1999
Gouache on paper
24 in (h) x 18 in (w)

Finding Home #45 "Sister," 2000
Gouache on paper
11.5 in (h) x 9 in (w)

Finding Home #49 "Venus," 2001
Gouache on paper
16 in (h) x 13 in (w)

Finding Home # 63 "Ruth" (Fereshteh), 2004
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on wood panel
12 in (h) x 9 in (w)

Finding Home #69 "Chava" (Fereshteh), 2004
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on wood panel
12 in (h) x 9 in (w)

Finding Home #73 "Miriam" (Fereshteh), 2006
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on wood panel
10 in (h) x 7 in (w)

Finding Home #74 "Lilith" (Fereshteh), 2006
Gouache on wood panel
30 in (h) x 24 in (w)

Finding Home #76 "Tziporah" (Fereshteh), 2006
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on paper
15 in (h) x 12 in (w)

Finding Home #77 "Miriam" (Fereshteh), 2006
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on paper
15 in (h) x 12 in (w)

Finding Home #79 "Lilith" (Fereshteh), 2006
Gouache and 22K gold leaf on paper
17 in (h) x 15 in (w)

Directions on How to Wear an Indian Jewish Sari (Edition of 20), 2005
Etching, aquatint and digital print on paper
29 in (h) x 22 in (w)