The Tiny, Complicated, Worlds of Amy Bennett

Something happens within Amy Bennett’s paintings. A narrative forms, or perhaps, an ambiguous feeling about the fragility of human relationships and people’s awkwardness in trying to relate to one another. In that sense, Bennett’s paintings perform as complicated 2D worlds.

Relying on 3D models to serve as points of reference, Bennett first creates her miniature worlds using cardboard, foam, wood, paint, glue, and model railroad miniatures. Those offer her complete control over lighting, composition, and vantage point to achieve a certain dramatic effect. She then paints those models, replaying the narrative she set in place.

Recent models have included a town, neighborhood, lake, theater, doctor’s office, church, and numerous domestic interiors. “While working with tiny pieces that often slip frustratingly from my fingers, I am reminded of the delicacy and vulnerability of the world I am creating, and this summons empathy for my subject,” she writes on her website. “The clumsy inadequacies of miniatures help me to convey a sense of artifice and distance. I try to paint the scenes in a way that feels like a believable world, but an alternate, fabricated world.”

“Typically I don’t know exactly how the model will look in the end,” she admits in a recent interview with wertn magazine. “It’s a feeling out process to try to get something that exists only in the imagination (and is sometimes quite murky) into the real world. There is a lot of exploration and play. I don’t do any preparatory sketches – for me, the 3D model is the sketching process.”

Check out some of her unique miniature worlds in the gallery below.