Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Benner Boswell

Excerpts from Boswell’s 2010 Regional Scholar reflective essay. Regional Scholars each receive a $10,000 scholarship and a one time $3,000 stipend to support research, career development or community service opportunities.

WalkparkThe stipend allowed me to, for the first time, invest in my own work. It was the closest I have come to living the artist’s dream.
It is has not happened very often in my life that I have walked into an empty space and been told, “I want you to build a sculpture here.” However, when I first visited Hunakai Studio in Foxboro, Massachusetts I was given approximately 24-square-feet to work with. I spent the next few weeks at home, in St. Louis, Missouri, planning how I would use the space, and the stipend, to create something I could both have fun with and learn from. The result, a summer later, was the Walkpark.

Skateboarding has been an integral part of my life since middle school. I formed much, if not all, of my worldview from atop my skateboard. In high school, skateboarding gave me a creative outlet and aligned me with a group of people that I related to. My friends and I began documenting our tricks with cameras and in movies. From these experiences I developed an interest in photography and eventually, in college, I committed fully to creative pursuits and became a Studio Art major.

With the Walkpark, it seems, I have come full circle. The Walkpark was designed to be a skatepark for walking. For me, skateboarding has always been about adding creativity to every space. Skaters learn to perceive stairs, ledges, bumps and rails as painters learn to perceive canvas. They see not only what is plainly there, but also what could be. They learn to add their own creative flow to the world.  The goal of the sculpture, then, was to allow people to experience this constant creative engagement with space, as a skateboarder does, with out risking life and limb.

As the last staple was being shot into the sculpture I heard the door of the gallery open. I turned around and saw six nine-year-olds running towards me. They immediately began to engage with the sculpture. They had a blast and, in truth, it was the most thrilling thing for me as well. I felt like it had worked.

The stipend allowed me to, for the first time, invest in my own work. It was the closest I have come to living the artist’s dream. I was able to invest in myself as I shared my sculpture with the community. The stipend and Hunakai Studios enabled me to learn how to coach myself through challenges of resources, commitment and motivation to build a sculpture that pushed me to become a better professional and artist.