Seattle artist merges family with artwork

by Peter Duell

Zack Bent considers himself a post-medium artist, working with a variety of different mediums for his pieces. The Seattle-based artist brought his exhibit, “A Pathetic Adventure,” to the Bryan Oliver Gallery on Feb. 19. His color photography lines the walls along with a video and sculptures in the middle of the gallery.

Bent said he has always loved photographs, even though he also did painting and drawing.

“My grandfather was a photographer,” Bent said. “My parents were, too. I’ve always been around photographers.”

Though Bent was exposed to photography at a young age and expressed an early interest in it from childhood, he was not always set on doing it for a living.

“I majored in architecture and minored in photography at Ball State University in Indiana,” Bent said. “After graduating with my degree, I realized architecture was not something that fit into my vision of what I wanted to do. I realized my passion is for photography.”

Bent’s works in the gallery focus on simple, everyday interactions which he finds profoundly interesting.

“I would say that I’m an artist who focuses on everyday life,” Bent said. “I’m fascinated with bizarreness of common daily occurrences that surround us.”

Some of his photographs feature his 7-year-old son wearing a Boy Scout uniform and setting off colored smoke bombs in the woods. He is seen behind a screen of orange smoke, smiling in his brown uniform and building a fire in a field. Bent’s wife, who is a painter, also appears in the photographs.

Bent takes his commitment to his family seriously, and makes sure his work does not interfere or disrupt their relationship.

“If I’m working noticeably long and hard on a particular project and it begins to affect my family, that’s where I draw the line and say ‘that’s enough,’” Bent said.

Whitworth art lecturer, Lance Sinnema likes Bent’s insightful style. Sinnema teaches ceramics and other art classes but as the gallery director, he also focuses on arranging and helping build the exhibits that appear on campus.

“Zack’s pieces draw my attention in that they create an opportunity to expand and educate the Whitworth community in a unique way,” Sinnema said.

Bent runs his own art practice doing commercial photography, working almost entirely independently. In addition to his practice, he teaches art classes at the University of Washington, where he studied for his master’s at age 30. His true passion is his independent practice.

“When I find myself inspired, my excitement is like a fire — it’s hard to put out once it gets going,” Bent said. “My practice is kind of like research in that I’m looking to find problems that I know there are solutions to. I just have to find them.”

Bent is passionate about art and the elements which surround his work.

“Art gives us a view into parts of life that other studies simply can’t touch,” Bent said. “Art is a strong component to creativity and I love utilizing that component to make interesting works that inspire me.  I’m not too sentimental about my pieces. There are some, though, that take me back to a place that I love — a place that inspires me.”

“A Pathetic Adventure” will be featured in the Bryan Oliver Gallery through April 6.

Contact Peter Duell at pduell16@my.whitworth.edu

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