The Hands of a Master

The Worker's Hands

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.

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~ by Rachel on May 4, 2009.

6 Responses to “The Hands of a Master”

  1. Hands can be powerful and with a story like this, evermore so. Thank you for sharing. What is the Benny’s website by the way?

    Uriel

  2. Benny’s website is http://www.rocksandsoul.com/ — I need to update the gallery for him, as well as putting newer posters into the Stonedancer store on Zazzle.

  3. Thank you!

  4. Great photo and story to go with it, thanks for sharing!

    Smiles ~
    Bella

    ( I found your blog from iheartfilm’s blogroll )

  5. I have one of Benny’s photos in a postcard form. I have been looking for more photos of his work. I have known Benny for many years while I worked in Fremont, but have not been in the area for quite some time. Do you have any more photos of his rock sculptures?

  6. Actually, yes, many. Though I no longer live in Fremont, I spent about 5 years documenting Benny’s sculptures in photographs… I also scanned/digitized all the old photos for him that other people had taken and given him, dating all the way back to his days in Hawaii.

    Since we’re talking something like 40-gigs-and-change of photos, were there specific sculptures you were looking for? I can at least take a look.

    A small handful of my own Benny photos can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/packet/sets/72157608487343989/ as well.

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