The Hands of a Master
Fawzi Benhariz, known as Benny, the Rock-Man, or ‘the Stonedancer,’ is an interesting figure in our neighborhood. Benny started making sculptures out of rocks when he was a six-year-old boy back in Libya, whenever he was upset. He says he always found peace in finding the energy of each rock that let it fit well with other rocks.
After coming to the United States about three decades ago, Benny attended Loyola University to get a degree in philosophy. While in school, he’d work through his stress by constructing balanced rock sculptures along the levees in New Orleans.
Benny’s been through some rough times; eventually, he ended up on the streets in Seattle, building his sculptures to find peace in his life and in hopes of earning donations from passers-by. He’s had some dark spells, but he’s making some efforts to turn his life around now. He’s got a place to stay, a website and is working on finding ways to monetize his art — selling posters and postcards I’ve made of his work, for instance — so as to get his life back together.
This picture is one I took yesterday, of Benny resting his hand on one of the balanced-rock sculptures he was working on. The black-and-white of the bright sun and dark shadows, and the masking tape wrapped around the injured fingers, made a very dramatic image.