Lazarus and the Rich Man by Aaron Lee Benson


Stoneware, 94" × 34" × 15"

click photos to enlarge


Jackson, Tennessee

Working mainly in stoneware clay, Benson produces large-scale architectural forms, as well as figurative, narrative monoliths.


Lazarus and the Rich Man finds its context in one of the parables of Christ as he describes the afterlife. In the parable one man, the rich man, is very wealth and has obtained great status here on earth. The other, Lazarus, was a pauper here on earth. However, at death, the two men find their lives reversed. Lazarus is now found in contentment in the "bosom of Abraham"; while the rich man suffers in separation from God.

Two great issues arise in this parable that I have tried to deal with in the work. One is that in the parable Christ describes "a great gulf" that separates the parties and neither can "cross over" to the other. The second is that the rich man now longs for a single drop of water to satisfy his greatest desire. This is a great and troubling truth that often clarifies for humans the reality of the human experience. Our desires can often change drastically depending on our circumstances to make the mundane priceless and wealth of no consequence. In a world driven by wealth, economics and greed it is always important to remember the fleeting nature of all things.

The work continues to clarify my love affair with form, specifically the arch. I believe it to be the greatest single form developed by man. I continually use it in my work. This work is an upside down arch. Thus how truth is often turned upside down.