necklace by Ellen Benson

“Found Object Explosion,” necklace

cabinet by Ellen Benson

“In My Mother’s House,” cabinet

Since leaving my job as a bank Senior VP in 2002, I have been creating art nonstop! Inspired at first by boxes of old family photos and documents, I began making collages, assemblages and altered books with these very personal materials.

Another inspiration has been the colors and folk art of Mexico and Guatemala, where I make an annual “pilgrimage” with a group that calls itself “the muchachas.” We visit woodcarvers, weavers, ceramic sculptors, mask makers and other artisans in their homes and studios.

Currently, I am involved in Philadelphia’s Dumpster Divers, a group of artists that focuses on re-using cast -off pieces of the world around us to make found object art. To “divers,” art materials are everywhere; and finding a particular item inspires various projects. A bottle cap becomes a doll’s hat; and paint brushes resemble legs. Cigar boxes and old drawers are really “houses” for creating a story within.

About 5 years ago, I gave myself a personal challenge of making 1000 figures; making an armature out of plastic bags and masking tape, found objects, paper mache and clay. I call these my “Diva Dolls” and so far, I’ve made about 500. In 2012-13 many of my figures were featured at the Philadelphia International Airport.

You can see more of my work at and, in “Found Object Art 2,” published by Schiffer Press, and in the March/April 2013 issue of the magazine, “Cloth, Paper, Scissors.”

The necklace, Found Object Explosion, and cabinet, In My Mother’s House, are composed of found objects.

Ellen Benson,