A member of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma, Benjamin was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1982. His father is Yellowman, a Navajo, and his mother is Diana L. Tsoodle-Nelson, of Kiowa and Taos Pueblo descent.
Ben began painting at the age of 5 years old. He is a self-taught artist who works in watercolors and acrylic paints. After graduating from Albuquerque’s Sandia High School, where he was active in sports, Ben attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman. There he was a member of the American Indian Student association and was involved in a 9-11 Relief Fund Philanthropy. While serving as a summer intern for New Mexico Congresswoman Heather Wilson, Ben continued his outreach efforts by assisting with an ”Art Discovery in Public Schools” program. He reflects on that experience, “I count it as a privilege to be a part of a program that encourages young people to develop their artistic talents. Giving back to the community has always been important to me.”
As a young artist, Ben has already received many awards and recognition. He was the youngest Native American artist to be featured in the Biographical Directory of Native American Painters. As a participant in the artists’ project ‘Trail of Painted Ponies,’ he contributed again to a philanthropic effort which helped raise funds to feed needy people in Northern New Mexico.
Ben’s paintings are often based on imagery from his Kiowa heritage. They offer glimpses of Native life on the plains and are filled with energy and color, sometimes reminiscent of ledger art.
Kiowa, Navajo, Taos