Stephen Bennett's mission is to study and paint portraits of people around the world. He promotes social interaction and cultural exchange between the diverse people he meets.

The means of achieving these goals will be to utilize the individual in the portrait to show the universality of the human spirit.Stephen Bennett creates working partnerships with local schools, churches and cultural organizations of the host country, with each trip culminating in a locally held public educational exhibition of paintings of native people. Stephen Bennett has been supporting "Faces of the World" through the sale of his portraits and private and corporate sponsorship.


Stephen Bennett begins each yearly project by researching the culture and conditions of indigenous people throughout the world to choose a country and a culture as a destination. He searches for a culture or country where his work can make a contribution and where there is a need.


Prior to the start of the project, Mr. Bennett will send out introductory packages and fundraising inquiries to schools, cultural charities, the federal and local government, museums, galleries and local agencies. These materials include a letter of introduction, images of portraits, letters of recommendation, press articles, and a resume. These packages introduce Mr. Bennett's work as a cultural bridge and invite the local government, schools and cultural organizations to participate in this project.


Mr. Bennett will then travel to the destination country and set up shop in the host country. He then spends time learning local customs and a bit of language and to acclimate. This initial period will allow Mr. Bennett to orientate to the locale, and to begin to make direct contact and personally introduce himself to the local students and schools, the local artists and those whom he will have initially contacted there for advice and assistance. Introductions to local charities will also be sought. Mr. Bennett will seek out ways in which to work together with local officials in order to raise money for local charitable causes. After this period of orientation and contact, the bulk of a project's cycle involves sketching, photographing and painting the local people. During these travels, Mr. Bennett will make every effort to meet local students, artists, cultural figures and organizations. Many of them will become subjects of his work, and all will be invited to the final exhibition of the paintings. Mr. Bennett will join with local schools as a volunteer teacher conducting hands on portrait-painting workshops for children and art students.


The culmination of the project in the host country is a public exhibition of the paintings. In order to bring as many people as possible, Bennett will advertise the exhibition in the local press so as to invite everyone, especially local artists, students and indigenous leaders to come and participate. Mr. Bennett will visit all of the local schools to invite the students personally, and will help to make transportation arrangements for the children to the exhibit. Local artists and art students will be encourage to attend and participate especially to paint and practice their crafts or art. In essence, the exhibit will simultaneously serve as an informal workshop for local art students and artists. Mr. Bennett will work with the local participants on their craft, and talk with them about his experiences with art striving to inspire them to continue with their native arts, crafts and customs. The exhibit serves a bridge between indigenous people and visitors or tourists to educate and create an environment of openness, possibility and exchange. The exhibit also serves as an auction for charity. Stephen will donate some of his works to be auctioned, with the proceeds going to local charities, and hopes to enlist other local artists to do the same.


The project continues stateside with [ongoing] exhibitions of the art. This cultural and educational aspect is intended as an effective tool for cultural diplomacy to spread goodwill among the peoples of the world as a cultural exchange. Such United States exhibitions, as to their uniqueness and sense of beauty, are able to raise the consciousness of Americans as to a celebration and presentation of diversity by informing of indigenous traditions and practices. These portraits are incorporated into multi-media exhibits featuring videos, artifacts, and the work of the students from the country he has visited.


For the moment, Bennett's work is self-funded [and supported by sales of his work] and the sponsorship of private companies and patrons. On occasion, he has brokered local private portrait commissions for assistance. Stephen Bennett would like to further and expand this program of bringing people together to celebrate human life through art, and to celebrate and preserve diversity by informing others of local traditions and practices. All too often indigenous peoples are pushed to the fringes of modern society. The power of these vibrant portraits and their public exhibition helps return the beauty and relevancy of indigenous people to a genuine level of social and cultural importance, much to the benefit of us all.

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