Artist Statement

Artist: Gwen Bennett

Gwen Bennett






Artist Name:

Gwen Bennett


Eastern Michigan University, University of Michigan


Full-time studio artist/craftsman since 1975

About Me & My Art:

Legal natural color feathers applied to fiber and plaster gauze forms. Feathers are washed, sorted, steamed, paired and cut. Work is framed. Vibrant natural color, sensual shape and texture make feathers an exciting design fiber in masks conveying transformation and power.


My education in biology and appreciation of natural objects led me to work with feathers in 1975.I buy my feathers from feather dealers that supply milliners, fishing fly tiers and down clothing manufacturers. They deal mainly in food birds such as turkey, rooster, pheasants, ducks and geese. I also get feathers from pet owners and bird breeders who raise parrots and peacocks that molt their feathers yearly. It is illegal to use any Native American bird unless it has been domesticated such as the turkey.


All the colors are natural except for the solid black which is dyed. Once I get the feathers they must be washed, steamed, sorted, paired and trimmed before I start a mask. I make a form out of plaster gauze, buckram and leather or use a form modified with buckram and leather upon which the feathers are hot glued. I put the form on a grid and first lay out the large wing or tail feathers. For symmetrical accuracy I put a pin through a knot on a string in the center of the mask so that I may measure every feather’s placement. I make all my work myself, I have no employees.


Feathers are quite durable. Incan feather art several hundred years old has been found in Peruvian caves and it is still bright and beautiful. Care for feathers is simple. To dust: use a feather duster or hair dryer. Wrinkles are removed with steam and splits on the feathers are zipped together with your fingers. The only reason a feather may fall apart is after attack by the same moths that eat woolens. If you have problems in your home with moths, it is wise to frame your feathers.


My work is inspired by a fascination with humankind’s ritual and magical use of natural objects. Historically both feathers and masks have been and still are used by cultures worldwide to denote wealth, beauty, status, magic and worship.

Select Awards:

Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, Wisconsin, Lakefront Festival of Arts- Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Krasl Art Fair- St. Joseph, Michigan, Gasparilla Festival of Arts, Tampa, Florida, Bonita Springs National Art Festival, Bonita Springs, Florida, Boston Mills Artfest- Peninsula, Ohio , Port Clinton Art Festival- Highland Park, Illinois

Select Juried Shows:

St. Louis Art Fair, St. Louis, Missouri Smithsonian Craft Show, Washington DC Naples National Art Festival, Naples, Florida Summer Art Fair, Ann Arbor, Michigan Art Fair on the Square, Madison, Wisconsin, Des Moines Art Festival