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Resounds: Ben Pease

Anna Paige
Ben Pease at the YPR studios

Artist Ben Pease, a member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes, grew up in Lodge Grass and attended high school in Hardin where he began painting and sold his first painting at age 17.

Pease was one of several Apsáalooke artists to participate in an exhibition at the Chicago Field Museum, and a tandem exhibit at the University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium, titled Apsáalooke Women & Warriors which opened in March 2020 featuring historical items and contemporary Crow art.

Pease is also a founding member of the Creative Indigenous Collective, created to “represent the education and promotion of Indigenous creativity.” The CIC encourages creation via traditional art forms, cultural art, technological development, and the distribution and implementation of such knowledge.

Pease has also cofounded the Native Youth Art in Action, a program focusing on fostering creativity and self-employed indigenous artists. Ben understands that not many people know Crow history, and his works help provide a glimpse into that history. Although Ben is from a long line of educators, his work is not purely subjective. To best understand Pease’s artwork, one should engage in conversation with Ben, ideally while viewing the work. Crow people are natural storytellers. While connecting with the paintings can be purely visual, or one can gain additional insights and nuances from Ben’s stories, both personal and about his tribe.

He often tells people that he is not just in the art game of painting beautiful pictures. He approaches his subject matter with an open heart and open eye. The work often presents a dichotomy of viewpoints about Crow Culture, offering viewers multiply way to engage.

In 2019, Ben was named Artist-of-the-Year by the Yellowstone Art Museum, where he was also the 15th artist to take up residency at the YAM’s Visible Vault since it opened in 2010. Ben is currently the artist in fellowship at Rocky Mountain College.

Pease is represented by the Stapleton Gallery in Billings, which is known for artistic installations and themed shows. Several large scale installations Ben has completed included an artistic rendering of the medicine wheel where he managed to get a 4,500-pound boulder in the gallery, and a contemporary indoor replication of a teepee, part of the 'The Trophy Room: The Hunt for Art.' He also worked with youth on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation to honor the memory of Henny Scott in an exhibition of artworks by herself and fellow classmates.

In June 2019, Pease was invited to take part in The Berlin Wall Project, launched by NeuWestBerlin, an arts and events platform that uses the nearly 12-foot tall T and L shaped pieces remaining from the Berlin Wall as canvases.

Anna Paige is a poet and educator and co-founder of Billings Area Literary Arts, created from a desire to connect writers to one another and grow the literary community of Billings.
Corby Skinner is an independent marketing professional with an enormous capacity for assessing issues and creating positive, effective messages.