Deborah Benioff Friedman was born in San Francisco, grew up in Massachusetts and Maine, graduated from Stanford University with a degree in English, and Cornell University with a degree in veterinary medicine, writes poetry, studies genealogy, practices veterinary ophthalmology and currently resides with her husband and her dog in the East Bay area.
I work with a variety of materials, having a special affinity for teabags (to make quilts, ships, ghost houses, bowls and books) and momigami (kneaded paper) creating pieces that reflect my attachment to objects worn and warmed by human use or weathered by time, friction and the elements. I often work with books (altered, distressed or curiously bound) and love the way a hand-made, or an old and much-thumbed volume feels in the fingers, or at least looks like something you want to hold. Such evidence of handling, this patina, is most important to me, the fondled page, the torn cover, creases, footnotes, doodles, wrinkles, stains, the wandering thread, a running stitch, sometimes works as text, creates its own vocabulary and finds its way into many of the objects I make. I am self-taught but have worked extensively with local artists, most notably with Lisa Kokin; my mentor and a major artistic influence. My father, a sculptor and physician, taught me early, not only the importance of art in the world of medicine, but the joy of materials in my hands, whether clay, pencil, needle and thread, glue or a paintbrush. His emphasis on simplicity, balance and the avoidance of artifice, have been the backbones of my work.
Photography by Lia Roozendaal