by Jana Sultan
Beirut Times Special Correspondent

For 15 years, Stephen Bennett a passion driven American portrait painter based in Brooklyn has toured worldwide to create magical portraits of people who retain their ancient cultural heritage's.

Bennett's spectacular portraits, some sized as large as 10 feet, are promoted by the United Nations to preserve indigenous cultures globally. Every portrait acclaims a serendipitous find with each strikingly ethnic face. Bennett has portrayed people in 23 countries including the United Arab Emirates.

Bennett tells, "My mission is to use my portraits to preserve and celebrate the cultures I encounter." In exploding prisms of color, each portrait is stroked with the rhythm of life, pulsating in sync with the viewer's heart, speaking the kinship of mankind. Beholders are vacuumed into the painters experience. There is a keen sense of the cultural character, the climate is tangible, reflections in the eyes convey the bustling panorama of a far away place. The onlooker is induced into a state of deja vu whereby the sitter becomes an old friend.

Proceeds from exhibitions and galleries throughout the world enable Bennett to fund his nonprofit organization, Faces of the World, which facilitates Portrait Workshops for children. Assisted by the Director of Development, Victoria Graham, children are empowered with pride in their unique heritage, customs and traditional crafts. Faces of the World provides cultural exchanges between the host country and the United States through exhibits of the children's and Bennett's portraits.

Bennett has painted many political dignitaries and celebrities to benefit humanitarian causes. His paintings of Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone and Iman helped raise funds for American Foundation for Aids Research. His portrait of Tom Brokaw was a gift from UNICEF honoring Brokaw's fund raising for them.

In August, 2009, Bennett's portraits will be exhibited for one month at the United Nations' Visitors Lobby in NY. This exhibit will launch "The Unity Mural" that will build bridges of friendship between children internationally. There will also be a ceremony by the United Nations Postal Administration celebrating the issue of 18 postage stamps of Bennett's indigenous portraits. The series of 18 stamps will be issued in 3 languages and 3 countries - Austria, Switzerland and the United States. For more information see

Click here to view the article.