Over the past several years Aleya Lehmann Bench’s creative practice has transitioned from painting to photography with her formal training as a painter informing her work in important ways. In her early experiments with photography she was shooting interiors primarily of 18th-century country houses in England. Two years ago she embarked on a collaborative project with a model to explore figurative imagery and narrative, which involved long exposures and carefully choreographed motion. At first, the work was a series of “short stories” shot on film. In late 2013, Lehmann Bench purchased a medium-format digital camera, which changed literally everything in her studio. Color and composition have come to the fore, and these newest images have become almost entirely abstract. Aleya Lehmann Bench is now in many ways, painting with her camera.
Aleya Lehmann Bench has lived and worked in New York City since 1983, after completing an MFA in Painting with Honors from American University in Washington, DC (1981-1983), and a BFA in Painting from Boston University (1975-1979). Her awards include three residencies at the MacDowell Colony, 1985, 1987 and 1992; a Penny McCall Grant in 1989; and an Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) fellowship at the Bronx Museum in 1992-1993.
The most important exhibitions she has participated in, as a painter, include: Wheel of Fortune, Lombard Freid Fine Arts, NYC, Curator Amy Lipton, group show, Dec. 6 - Jan. 6, 1996; In Three Dimensions: Women Sculptors of the '90s; Part I: Issues of Gender, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, NYC, group show, Curator, Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, July 9 - Sept. 17, 1995; For Appearance Sake, Horodner Romley Gallery, NYC, group show, Curator, Saul Ostrow, Sept. 9 - Oct. 1, 1994; Huma Bhaba, Aleya Saad, Randy Wray, Lauren Wittels Gallery, NYC, group show, Apr. 15 - May 8, 1994; Transient Decor, Roger Smith Hotel, NYC, group show, Curator, Saul Ostrow, May 12 - May 26, 1993; Songs of Retribution, Richard Anderson Gallery, NYC, group show, Curator, Nancy Spero, Jan. 15 - Feb. 11, 1993; and Brooklyn '85, Brooklyn Museum, NYC, group show, Jan. 20 - Mar. 4, 1985, among others.
About 10 years ago, Lehmann Bench turned from painting to photography, initially working with medium- and large-format film cameras, producing black-and-white imagery; and during the past year, she has transitioned to a medium-format digital camera and to producing color imagery.