University of South Florida

School of Art & Art History

USF College of The Arts

Neil Bender

Associate Professor, Painting & Drawing
MFA, University of Georgia
Phone: (813) 974-2360
Office: FAH 245


Neil Bender makes paintings and collages that probe fluid practices of gender and sexuality. He recasts imagery exploited by popular culture with seductive surfaces and color in order to form a new interface for open dialogue or experience. In “The Discoverer” (2014), the viewer is confronted by a woman. The subject is an over- tanned Floridian who could be in her late 20s or early 40s, having had too much work done to tell. She spreads herself open in order to uncover the sources of why she did this to herself. The probing is reflexive as the hands she uses are the tracings of Bender’s hands. Beneath leather skin, cultural tropes like Elvis and girls in daisy dukes are uncovered. With humor as a starting point, Bender’s work aims to alleviate the anxiety of desire and fulfill fetishes and fantasies.

His work has been shown in many national and international venues, including the Front in New Orleans, the Boston Center for the Arts, the CUE Art Foundation in New York City, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Saltworks Gallery in Atlanta, the Boston Center for the Arts, and Palazzo Casali in Cortona, Italy. His work has been shown in art fairs such as Scope in Miami and New York, Circa PR in San Juan, the Bridge Art Fair in Miami, and Art Chicago. Bender’s work was featured in “New American Paintings”, and the book, “Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-Humanoid Extraterrestrial Sexualities.” He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Vermont Studio Center. His BFA was conferred from Rutgers University and an MFA from the University of Georgia, where he received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant.​