Cheryl Bentley

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What is my work about?

At its core my practice is a log of evidence displaying the exploration of my becoming in relationship to the world; a distillation of my experiences. The things I make are windows into timeless emotion, the sublime, and suffering. I understand my process as ahistorical, or rather contemporary alchemist, or seer looking for something that will deliver me final freedom and completion. Questing with wide eyes brings its own liberation though, imbuing myself the perspicacity to make work with subtle sensitivity and expression. I want my art to resonate in the world, be accessible to all, while emitting the quiet psychic properties that go into its creation.

Artist Statement

Much of my work is discovered through considering being in bed. I’ve done a lot in bed. I was born, I have slept, I have woken up, I have been sick with multiple illnesses and wounds, I have been healed of multiple illnesses and wounds, I’ve fucked, I’ve loved, I’ve fought, I’ve hated, I’ve spooned, I’ve dreamed, I’ve had anxiety and nightmares, I’ve laid sleepless in some kind of altered state, I’ve been bored, I’ve been completely content, one day, presumably, I’ll die in bed.

There is a preoccupation with the anus in my work. It is rising out of the shit of taboo to something wonderful. It works as a metaphor for what is beginning with what is coming out of you after all you have collected, consumed, and digested. It’s a mutable symbol too: the anus as place of rebirth, the anus as a healing power, as a vortex, as any orifice of desire, or as a lens to look through.

I have been in love with art ever since I became conscious of it at the age of three.  I drew some pictures I thought were fairly good when I was fifty, but really nothing I did before the age of seventy was of any value at all.  At seventy-three I have at last caught every aspect of nature- birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all.  When I am eighty I shall have developed still further, and I will really master the secrets of art at ninety.  When I reach a hundred my work will be truly sublime, and my final goal will be attained around the age of one hundred and ten, when every line and dot I draw will be imbued with life.

Much of my work has been discovered through what is forever known in the mind and body.

The artwork exists in the mind.

Before it’s given form, it exists in the mind.

The artwork exists in the body.

Before it’s given form, it exists in each corporeal cell.

The artwork exists in darkness.

Before it’s given form, love floods the dreaming mind.


I would like my art to be something you can look at, which means it has to have human interest. To have human interest it must show intelligence and empathy and tether between pleasure and pain or the possibility of pleasure and pain.

The artwork is constantly sewing the natural and culture into unified bodies.

Moving easily from work to work, there is always an insistence in the body.

An octopus whose brain is spread across its body, she understands the world this way.

The insistence in the body anticipates the viewer’s body as an octopus’s: a functioning, intelligent, empathetic skin.

There is an instinctual empathy I assume you experience in a curve or organic shape relative to your body because I do.

We feel the same rapture, deeply.

When an image has burned itself into my mind, heart, or body so thoroughly that it cannot be mistaken then I have my inspiration. At this time my sub-conscious is so loudly at work that it has faultlessly pushed me out of the way.

Viewers often see things in my work I do not intend. My reaction is pleasant, indicating that the reader’s mind has collaborated in a creative way with what I have made.

My work is offering itself to be contemplated, considered, or to turn you on in some fashion.

The ocean is deathless

The islands rise and die

Quietly come, quietly go

A silent swaying breath.

Artwork is beneficial, something invisible is gained from it, and there is no truth. There are moments and gestures.

A very small gesture of exaltation.

Because I am a visionary I can embrace all I do, say, think, and make; even as a mistake.  And even then there is no mistake, right or wrong, there is only make.

Being outside that struggle, I turn to perfection and love as I see it in my mind and as I see it with my eyes.

In our minds there is an awareness of love / perfection, and when we look with our eyes we see it.

In our bodies there is an awareness of love / perfection, and when we look from ourselves we feel it.

One must see the Ideal in one’s own mind. It’s like a memory of love / perfection.

Artwork is a memory of perfection that becomes real again in present time.

The essential feature of adventure is that of going forward into unknown territory.

The joy of adventure is unaccountable and invaluable.  It is growth.

This is the attractiveness of artwork. It is adventurous, strenuous and joyful.

Artwork is an idea that becomes an event.

The events can happen anywhere really; in a room, closet, or even inside your asshole.

Sometimes fetish comes up in my work, which can be seen through the lens of consumerism, as a sort of intense and specific appetite.

I welcome this kind of reading. Fetish traffics in bodily desire and an ability to be intimate and voracious. That is part of my subject matter.

When work and life start to rattle taboo and boundaries away, desire flows easily from one orifice to another, one thing becoming the next. I think this is where life is; this is where stories continue.

I pretended I was looking at the blank page; if my mind was empty enough I could see it.

I didn’t draw the plane; I just drew this horizontal line.

Then I found out about all the other lines.

They were just right.

The correct composition was all of the lines put together.

If I can put the lines down right,

they have their own body;

they have their own clusters;

they have their own vibration.

They have different levels of heat.

They will transfer heat to one another.

Sometimes an artwork is only discovered through sensations.

If I am quiet and I keep placing the lines, they tell me what the inspiration is.

This is how I know where all the shadows belong.



2014 MFA Studio Art, New York University

2009 BA Art Practice, University of California, Berkeley

solo/two person exhibitions

Cheryl Bentley | Mark Starling, Junior Projects, New York, NY

Light House/5104103960, 80 WSE, New York, NY

Praise, Praise, Praise, S.H.E.D. Projects, Oakland, CA

The Book and The Bird, Worth Ryder Gallery, Berkeley, CA

selected group exhibitions
I Like Fluorescent Light, I Love the Sun, 80 WSE, New York, NY

Glow Show, storefront exhibitions, Catskill, NY
1st Year MFA Exhibition, Rosenberg Gallery, New York, NY

Foundry Night III & IV, The Foundry, Berkeley, CA

Midnight Snacks, traveling exhibition, Chicago, IL
A Salon, The Foundry, Berkeley, CA
Foundry Night I, The Foundry, Berkeley, CA

Every Name You Could Think Of, Worth Ryder Gallery, Berkeley, CA
MultiOcculti, 4707, Oakland, CA

The Neutral, Worth Ryder Gallery, Berkeley, CA
ART SHOW, Worth Ryder Gallery, Berkeley, CA

selected bibliography
2014 “That’s How,” The Denver Quarterly, 49:2.


2014 Student Excellence Award, New York University

2009 Art Practice Honors Award, University of California, Berkeley

2008 Art Practice Honors Award, University of California, Berkeley