Rod Benson is a native Californian who grew up San Diego. After four years playing College Basketball at UC Berkeley, in 2006 he began a professional basketball career that took him all over the world. During that time, he wrote professionally for Yahoo! and USA Today, taught himself graphic design, and eventually fine art. After 8 years playing ball in South Korea, he decided to retire in April 2018 to pursue those other passions.
Painting was one of the hobbies he took on to fill his newfound free time, but he didn’t take himself seriously as a fine artist. It wasn’t until July 2018 when that began to change. While out one night in Las Vegas, he found himself the victim of racially charged police brutality. The next day, badly shaken, he locked himself in his hotel room and didn’t leave. That night, he ordered 3 huge canvases. It was the breaking point that crystallized the purpose of his paintings; he realized he was painting a positive reflection of his own life, one not bound by the biases or expectations of anyone, one that was bigger and brighter than any pair of handcuffs could contain. Rod questions: can we relieve minorities of this burden simply by adding some vibrancy to their identity? He’d like to think the answer is yes. To be dark does not necessitate a need to be represented as dangerous.
Since then, Rod has been shown in galleries from Los Angeles and South Korea. His paintings have combined his love of 90s nostalgia, his experience as a professional athlete, and his love of wild color to create a new style of purpose driven pop art.
A further explanation of the event that started that led to Rod’s first show: