Photo by Ryan Collerd, courtesy of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Volta Studio creates participatory art rooted

in an exploratory and educational process.

 

Bio:

Benjamin Volta (b. 1979 in Abington, PA) creates intricate public murals and sculptures, working within the fields of education, restorative justice, and urban planning. His practice stands on the belief that art can be a catalyst for change, within individuals as well as the institutional structures that surround them.

Ben is a 2015 Pew Fellow. He earned his certificate in sculpture from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2002 and his BFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005, during which he completed extensive graduate coursework in art history and design. After finishing his academic studies, Ben began working with teachers and students in Philadelphia public schools to create participatory art rooted in an exploratory and educational process. For the past 10 years, he has been developing this collaborative process in partnership with public schools, art organizations, and communities. He has received funding to work in more than 40 schools on hundreds of projects, which have focused on skills alignments and the integration of art with math, science, and reading. The National Academy of Sciences has recognized his work in several publications and has placed 20 works on permanent display at the Keck Center in Washington, D.C. As a young artist, Ben was a member of the groundbreaking art collective Tim Rollins and K.O.S. in New York City.
 

 

Partner organizations:

 

  • The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

    •    The Franklin Institute

    •    The Dow Paint Quality Institute

    •    The Center for Art in Wood

    •    The Lenfest Center

    •    11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University

    •    The Restorative Justice GUILD

    •    The Porch Light Initiative

  • The Cultural Programs at the National Academy of Sciences

  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art  

  • Museum Editions

    •    The Rockwell Group

  • Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners

  • Breadboard

  • NextFab Studio

  • The City of Philadelphia Percent for Art Program

  • Asian Arts Initiative

    •    PECO

    •    The Fabric Workshop and Museum

  • The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts

  • The Delaware Art Museum

  • The Fleisher Art Memorial

  • The Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership

    •    The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

    •    The National Endowment for the Arts

    •    U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement

  • Historic Germantown

  • Arts Reach

    •    The Boys and Girls Club of America

  • Project Home Honickman Learning Center

  • The School District of Philadelphia

  • The Center for Emerging Visual Artists

    •    New Courtland Elder Services

  • The Dunlop Gallery

  • Taller Puertorriqueño

  • Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit

  • Congreso de Latinos Unidos

  • Build a Bridge International

  • Eastern University

 

 

Partner Schools:

 

Philadelphia

  • Kensington High School`

  • Roxborough High School

  • South Philadelphia High School

  • Waring Elementary School

  • Morton McMichael School

  • Spring Garden School

  • Grover Washington Jr. Middle School

  • Carnell Elementary School

  • Smedley Elementary School

  • Arthur Elementary School

  • Finletter Elementary School

  • Ferrell Elementary School

  • Kensington CAPA High School

  • Vare Elementary School

  • Nebinger Elementary School

  • Penn Treaty Middle School

  • The School of the Future High School

  • Eastern University Charter High School

  • Eastern University

  • Wagner Elementary School

  • Russell Byers Charter School

  • Alexander Wilson Elementary School

  • Morton Elementary School

  • Martha Washington Elementary School

  • Blair Christian Academy

  • Henry R. Edmunds School

  • Richard R. Wright School

  • AMY Northwest Middle School

  • Nueva Esperanza Academy

  • Solis-Cohen Elementary School


Philadelphia Area

  • Wissahickon High School, Ambler, PA

  • Conwell-Egan Catholic High School, Fairless Hills, PA

  • Upper Merion High School, King of Prussia, PA

  • Ringing Rocks Elementary School, Pottstown, PA


National

  • The Delaware School for the Deaf, Newark, DE

  • Bancroft Elementary School, Wilmington, DE

  • Stubbs Elementary School, Wilmington, DE

  • Hunter Woods Elementary School, Reston, VA

  • Dogwood Elementary School, Reston, VA


International

  • St. Catherine Community School, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

  • Jamieson Elementary, Ohsweken, Ontario Canada

 

 
Curriculum vitae:

 

RECENT WORK

2016–18

  • Large-scale Art Integration mural projects at South Philadelphia High School and Roxborough High School, with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

  • Family in Residence at the Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, DE)

  • “Home That Was”: multiple murals, with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Restorative Justice GUILD

  • “Neuron Garden”: digital etched glass windscreen for Crandford Train Station, with New Jersey Transit (Crandford, NJ)

  • “Reflect Tacony”: interior murals for the Free Library of Philadelphia, Tacony Branch, with Percent for Art

 

2015

  • PEW Fellowship in the Arts

  • “Celestial Cascade”: suspended sculpture for the McLaughlin Youth Facility (Anchorage, AK)

  • “Wellness at Play”: mural, with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Porch Light Initiative and Eleventh Street Family Health Services of Drexel University

  • “Frequencies”: mural project, in partnership with The Franklin Institute, chemists at DOW Paint Quality Institute, the Lenfest Center, and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

 

2014

  • “Micro to Macro”: 12,000 sq. ft. mural, wrapping Morton McMichael Elementary School, with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (Mantua neighborhood, Philadelphia, PA)

  • “Amplify”: mural for Union Transfer music venue, with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Restorative Justice GUILD

  • “Coordinates of Play”: ceiling installation for Pleasant Playground, with Percent for Art (Philadelphia, PA)

  • “Paper Please”: group exhibit at Pentimenti Gallery (Philadelphia, PA)

 

2013

  • “We Are All Neurons”: mural wrapping a SEPTA train on the Market-Frankford line, a City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Local Emerging Artist Project

  • “A Healing Home”: window film wrap at Eleventh Street Family Health Services and large-scale mural on the sidewalk outside Spring Garden School, with the Porch Light Initiative, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the Department of Behavioral Health, and Eleventh Street Family Health Services of Drexel University, with additional assessment by the Yale School of Medicine

  • “Coral Lace,” ceiling sculpture installation for the emergency room waiting area; “Medicinal Forest, Medicinal Mountains,” pair of 8’ x 20’ murals with digital displays on the 2nd and 3rd floors, at the Rockwell Group’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center, with Pentimenti Gallery and Museum Editions (New Hyde Park, NY)

  • “Emoji Energy”: digital and screen-printed fence wrap for the PECO Callowhill substation, with the Asian Arts Initiative, Artplace America, and The Fabric Workshop and Museum (Philadelphia, PA)

  • “Historical Catalysts”: exhibit at the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, DC)

  • “Marvels”: Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, with Bancroft Elementary School (Wilmington, DE)

 

2011–12

  • “Written in Wood”: mural for the Center for Art in Wood, with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Restorative Justice GUILD

  • “Tectonic Quilt”: digital mural on Hosho paper, with the Philadelphia International Airport and Percent for Art

  • Stonewalled”: group exhibit at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Central Branch

  • “STEAM”: exhibit showcasing five years of art, science and math projects created with Grover Washington Jr. Middle School, at the Esther Klein Gallery, The Science Center (Philadelphia, PA)

  • “The Constellation”: public art for the Glen Elm Library, Dunlop Gallery (Regina, SK, Canada)

  • “Love Invaders”: vinyl graphic installation wrapping the JFK Welcome Center at Love Park, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art Delphi Programs

  • “Shape Invaders”: vinyl graphic installation wrapping the exterior windows of the School District of Philadelphia Education Center (Philadelphia, PA) and the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (Wilmington, DE)

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS AND PUBLIC ART, 2007–10

  • “Home that Was,” City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia, PA

  • “Art at Falls Center,” Iron Stone, Falls Center, Philadelphia, PA

  • “Paperpattern Colorculture,” Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

  • “Elletrostatica,” Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE

  • “Caution: Combustible,” Gallery 817, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

 

SELECT EDUCATION, COMMUNITY AND COLLABORATIVE INTITIATIVES, 2005–12

  • Arts Bridges and Arts Link Pilot Programs, PAEP and the United States Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement. School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA (6 years)

  • Art Futures and Art Partners Residencies, Philadelphia Museum of Art (6 years)

  • SHORT FILM: “Art Action at Love Park,” Philadelphia Museum of Art Summer Film Program, with the Big Picture Alliance, Nueva Esperanza Academy, and Taller Puertorriqueño, Philadelphia, PA

  • Art and Community Residency, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, with the Delaware School for the Deaf, Newark, DE

 

EDUCATION

  • 1998–2002: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

    • Certificate in Sculpture

    • William Emlen Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship

    • PA Governors Award

  • 2002–05: The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

    • BFA, magna cum laude, with graduate work in art history and curatorial studies

    • Graduate Curatorial Project with Professor George H. Marcus, "Whimsical Works: The Toys of Charles and Raye Eames" (exhibition at the Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania)

  • 2000–present: Tim Rollins and KOS

    • Extensive work with the historic collective Tim Rollins and K.O.S., contributing to the research and production of artworks exhibited at Gallery Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, Galleria Raucci Santamaria in Napoli, Galerie Xavier Hufkens in Brussels, and Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York, as well as Frieze Art Fair in NYC and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Basel, Switzerland

 

SELECT PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • 2016: Steamship Conference at the Drexel ExCite Center, keynote speaker

  • 2015: Second Chance Act National Conference, panelist and presenter

  • 2014: Moscow Cultural Forum, panelist and presenter

  • 2014: Creative Mornings, October presenter on the theme of color

  • 2013: The CHAMP Conference at the National Academy of Sciences, presenter

  • 2009–10: Grant Panelist for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts "Arts in Education" program

  • 2007–13: Consultant for teacher workshops with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, School District of Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership

 

SELECT PRESS AND PUBLICATIONS

  • 2015: “Articulate with Jim Cotter,” Episode 7, WHYY TV Series

  • 2014: “Art for Excellence's Sake,” Natalie Pompilio, Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 2014: “Artist Feature,” National Geographic Traveler magazine, December

  • 2014: "Ville d'art & d'histoire," Voyage de Luxe, No. 62

  • 2014: “Mantua Hopes Art Will Rebuild the Neighborhood” Tommy Rowan, Metro

  • 2013: “Issues in Science and Technology,” Journal of the National Academies

  • 2012: “Convergence: The Art Collection of the National Academy of Sciences,” JD Tallasek and Alana Quinn, Cultural Programs at the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS)

  • 2011: “Adding Art to Educational Basics can be Scientific Approach” Peter Crimmins, WHYY, Newsworks

  • 2011: “Students, Artist Create Mural,” Kerry Benjoe, Regina Leader-Post

  • 2010: “Within the Home That Was,” Jack Hinton

  • 2010: “Getting to the Point,” Gerard Brown

  • 2010: “Art and Science Merge,” Edward L. Kenney, Delaware News Journal

  • 2010: “Issues in Science and Technology,” Journal of the National Academies

  • 2009: “paperpatterncolorculture,” Emily Warner, Brooklyn Rail

  • 2006: “Call Me,” Kristopher Monroe, Beautiful/Decay

IN PROCESS

U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship Program, funded by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts:  Collaboration with the Chara Rimpa Project to be presented in Tokyo, Japan during the 2020 Olympic Games.

 

Small Town Big Art,

Public art in Wailuku,

Maui, Hawaii

Large scale Art Integration mural project for Kensington High School,

with Mural Arts Philadelphia

RECENT

Thoreau's Ensemble (2019)

Art for Colts Neck Underpass

with Public Art Reston

Reston, Virginia

Parts Per Million (2018)

with Mural Arts Philadelphia

12,000 sq/ft mural created with environmental science and math students at South Philadelphia High School.

Synaptic Garden (2018)

with the Comcast Art Program

Murals for the 39th, 40th, 41st floor of the new Comcast Technology Center, Philadelphia, PA.

Neuron Garden (2017)

with Art in Transit

Glass windscreens created with youth for the Crandford Train Station, New Jersey Transit, Crandford, NJ.

 

Diligence (2017)

with Percent for Art

Interior mural for the Free Library of Philadelphia Tacony Branch.