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Meet Ben Brummerhop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Brummerhop.

Ben, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
There have been two separate time periods of my art. The early years were a mix of discovering my creative voice and fighting an I.V. addiction to methamphetamines. It wasn’t until I got sober from meth that I truly discovered my creative voice and how my art can be used as a tool to heal and grow internally and also as a vessel for other people to heal. I have always hidden words, numbers and symbols in my work. It was how I journaled about life in the most secretive way possible. I would paint it onto the canvas and bury it. The buyers of my work had no idea they were buying art with my deepest secrets, happiest and saddest moments and allowing me to get it out of my body in a beautiful and personally meaningful way.

Getting off Meth crippled my ability to create. My studio, the music I love, hell, my life was a trigger that made me want to get high. I couldn’t even go into my studio because I spent so much of my creative life high. In 2010, I did a national exhibition of my work called “A New Use for Syringes”. It was a celebration of my 5th year of sobriety. I painted 79 paintings using syringes to apply the paint. It was a way for me to take back my creative life by using the tool that damn near destroyed it. It was such a wonderful way to move on and take back my art and my life.

In March of 2020, I celebrated 15 years sober from meth and started to consider that maybe my commissioned customers would like to get in on the process by burying their own words in my work. As a sober person, I had revisited every collection in my art history except a collection called the “Swirls”. There was so much pain and trauma wrapped around that collection for me that revisiting it felt like reliving the trauma. With the help of my coach, Bodhi Calagna, I finally got the strength to do it. I was challenged by Bodhi to do a swirl painting and leave the words for people to see. I decided that if anyone deserved to see the words, it was my husband, Clay. That challenge led me to doing ten swirl paintings in 2020 with clients contributing words that have covered everything from lyrics to songs to the passing of a sibling and past sexual trauma. I feel like I am at a beautiful place in life that is allowing me to share my true self and live with purpose and an eye toward the future.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenge was trusting my creativity. I honestly didn’t know if I was really an artist or a drug addict with a lot of time on his hands. At some points, I felt like my creativity only existed because I was awake for so many days at a time.

The second challenge was doing an exhibition about my addiction. I remember being on the front page of a newspaper with the headline, “Artist Beats Meth!” with my picture next to it. My brain only saw the word “Meth”…It took me a minute to be able to read that and celebrate the word “beats”. There was so much shame around it.

Please tell us more about your art.
I am an artist. It makes me so proud to be able to say that and feel confident in it. I have sold over 400 pieces of my work. It still blows my mind, as a self-taught artist that people will pay money for what is going on in my brain. HAHA, I mostly work on a commissioned basis but have been giving more thought to entering the gallery world again.

I am most proud of the collaborative work I have been doing with clients in the last year. It is so fun to help a client come up with words for the layers of their paintings. I am proud of beating meth and being able to sit down and do this interview.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Dedication, honesty and pride.

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Image Credit:

Head Shot-Jeffrey D. Ross Photography

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