By Paul Gunther, President, Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America
The artisan winners of the 2005 Arthur Ross Award for Excellence in the Classical Tradition were the peerless stone carvers of the John Stevens Shop of Newport, Rhode Island, where John Everett Benson and his son and current proprietor, Nick have maintained and extended a standard of American craft excellence in place for more than 300 years. The Institute was grateful to so recognize as such an example helps stimulate and realize contemporary design aspiration as it also allows continuity of skill handed through generations.
Nick Benson is a masterful stone carver who learned the great tradition of Roman stone carving and architectural lettering from his father and his grandfather. The Benson designs and exquisite hand—carved stone inscriptions grace many of America’s leading landmarks—The National Gallery of Art, The Boston Public Library, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial—and revered national memorials to Presidents John F. Kennedy at Arlington and Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington. Nick has continued this noble enterprise from the historic John Stevens Workshop, founded by the Yorkshire stone carver who came to America in the eighteenth century.
With all this in mind, the ICA&CA community is especially thrilled with news that Nick Benson has been named one of the 2010 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellows. It is intoxicating that Nick’s “genius” of classical accomplishment has found its due place at the edge of future promise and modern application.