Tom was born in 1950 in London, Ontario where he still lives with his wife, Pauline, and his brother-in-law, Dennis. He has been making art for over 40 years.
“Benner is a spirit for the twenty-first century, eloquent without being didactic, serious without being weighty – an effective balance. Clearly, he is already some kind of classic to be understood and valued and his work will continue to reward viewers who seek artists relevant to the crucial issues of nature and the environment today” – Joan Murray
“Over the course of a remarkable varied career, working in many modes of representation and visual idioms, Benner has remained true to engaging us in a complex, multi-faceted discourse with the art object. Aesthetic re-definition has been his fundamental intention as an artist. He creates creative collusions of ideas and materials, forms and a cleverly idiosyncratic, personal iconography. Benner’s imaginative alphabet embraces the supremacy of expressing new concepts of what constitutes art objects and the contexts of their presentation. By generously including the dimensions of time and space in his work, Benner accords them the same privileged place in the formal structure of his works of art as colour, light, line and texture. While irony and profitable juxtapositions of visual and non-visual elements are clever stratagems to deliver meaning, Benner never lapses into vacant visual gimmickry to make meaning.
In the epic narrative of Benner’s artistic journey – up to and including the exhibition Call of the Wild – a journey heralded some forty years ago on Bonneville Salt Flats of the mind, Benner set a course to prove that art could move people at astonishing speeds in the limitless realm of the imagination.” – Tom Smart
“Impassioned and profound, Benner’s labour-intensive sculptures, such as The Pontiac Star Chief, extol the value of manual labour, the creative hand of the artist, and an inherent sympathy between the expressive qualities of materials, the process of construction, and a vitally important message. In the postmodern age of virtual realities, the physicality of his work brings us to an awareness of our own bodily presence, connecting mind to matter, culture to nature, and history to place.
At its foundation, Benner’s art derives from a fundamental desire to play, to explore, and to create. As an antidote for our disturbed relationship with the natural world and out collective amnesia regarding the past, it offers the possibility of radically re-envisioning and reshaping reality, or taking us out of our narrow anthropocentric world by recovering our creative roots in wild nature.” – Terry Graff
“Tom Benner is surely as anomaly among artists working in Canada today. His work refuses to fit into any of the currently important trends yet in its own way is every bit as contemporary and effective. Much of the freshness of his sculpture comes from seeing it as Benner sees the animals he works from, innocent of the load of history, information and opinion that surrounds them. It is also for the most part a more truly Canadian art than that of his peers in the images it evokes and the way of life it describes. Benner’s work, taken as a whole, speaks of a Paradise Lost, flora on paper, fauna ‘museumized’ and people preserved in glass cases. It speaks of nature’s balance and beauty, man’s imperfection and power over her, and ultimately, and against common sense, of the artist’s conviction that she will endure.” – Goldie Rans