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Benjamin Flaten | #MFBArt14




For more information or to purchase art, email artshow@maryfreebed.com.

I was born in 1979 and diagnosed with a seizure disorder at the age of four. As a young boy, I enjoyed my life on a farm with all of the animals, and I enjoyed making my own toys out of found objects such as springs, spoons, fence wire and feathers. My mother recalls me creating little animal sculptures from natural clay that I would set out in the sun to dry.

I was home schooled, which allowed me to express my freedom in education and creativity.

As a teenager in the public school system, I excelled in art and theater. I was awarded a scholarship to Kendall Art School; however, in my senior year I was brutally attacked and beaten and sustained a traumatic brain injury. I managed to graduate from high school, but did not go on to Kendall. I did, however, continue to make art and took pottery and sculpture classes at the community college and the Art Institute in Kalamazoo. My seizure disorder was problematic at this time and interfered with employment. I also was unable to drive.

In May, 2002, I was hit by a car while walking home one evening. I sustained many injuries including a broken back, neck, ribs, legs, left shoulder, arm, wrist and pelvis, as well as a fractured skull that resulted in a second traumatic brain injury. I also suffered cervical spinal cord damage that caused partial paralysis in my left arm and severe nerve pain.

I have had to undergo many corrective surgeries. I am still recovering and challenged daily with the painful reminders of the accident. But I continue to make my art. I have recently found the courage to pick up a torch and weld metal sculptures again, despite my physical and cognitive limitations.

I live and breathe for my art. It gives my life purpose and meaning – my hands are co-creators in life. My art is healing for me and, I hope, for those who see it. I am “trailing my path” for others to follow.

© 2015 Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital., Grand Rapids, MI | 1.855.MFB.REHAB
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