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Ben Skinner – Something Had To Be Done

Ben Skinner – Something Had To Be Done

Curated by the Judith & Norman ALIX Art Gallery
October 5, 2012 – January 1, 2013

“Good art is when you can hear the ideas bouncing off each other in your brain” 

Showcasing the skilled hand and imagination of Ben Skinner, SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE is an exhibition that occupies non-traditional spaces throughout the gallery and the community. It consists of a gallery installation in the lobby and around the periphery of the second floor, and public art pieces that circulate throughout the community on functional objects we see and use every day. By broadening the context and situations in which his art is encountered, Skinner invites the public to participate in the production of the work’s meanings—an activity that dynamically links the physically dispersed elements of his exhibition into a cohesive whole.

SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE is also at its core a portrait of the artist. Using text, image, and colour, Skinner takes fragments from his own childhood memories and paraphrases them into a kind of archetypal memory that resonates widely. When recognizing the familiar within Skinner’s art, viewers will find it difficult to resist the impulse to share their own personal stories with those around them. Using straightforward speech within a specific context, Skinner’s work serves to generate a conversation with society through art.

Check out an extension of the exhibition at and contribute!


About the Artist

Ben Skinner was born in the late 70’s and grew up, unlike most kids, in Petrolia, Ontario. A town where a young boy could get lost, or at least get into plenty of mischief in the abandoned oil fields and derelict foundations of old farm houses or hospitals; remnants from the town’s Victorian history that still can be tripped over or fallen into in the outlying woodlots of Canada’s historic oil town. Sometime between the sandbox and breakdancing Ben decided he was going to be an artist. 

His neighbor, an illustrator who designed the ornate Petrolia logo, encouraged his drawing ability and gave him access to fancy markers and pencils. Ben’s parents ran a small print shop from their home until he was about six, and amongst the fumes of printing ink, paint thinner and developer he found ways to decorate the endless piles of off-cut paper. 

There was a sort of rotating gallery in the Skinner household. His Crayola visions of superheroes and strange animal hybrids clung to the walls with temporary wax adhesive. During high school the paper drawings were replaced by large Pop Art inspired canvases painted with bright house paints and acrylics.

In the year 2000 Ben graduated with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Fine Art from NSCAD in Halifax and then continued with an MFA in Art & Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003. Ben now lives and works and in Vancouver, BC

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