Benigna Chilla began her art studies in her native Germany at the Folkwangschule in Essen and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin. She moved to America in 1969, completing her graduate studies at the State University of New York at Albany and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She held Visiting Assistant or Artist-in-Residence positions at the University of Massachusetts, Brown University, Cornell University and the Rhode Island School of Design until 1980 when she became a faculty member at Berkshire Community College, where she still continues to teach today. She has held residencies at Yaddo, the Djerassi Foundation, the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. Benigna has continued to steadily produce work from her studio at home in Chatham, New York as well as exhibit and lecture all over the world.
Benigna Chilla’s process as an artist begins with inspiration from ancient, geometric patterns found in architecture, textiles, and nature. She breaks them down into their most basic forms, isolates sections, analyzes how all the pieces fit together, plays with color and then finally recreates the original inspiration as a completely new design, presented to the viewer as an optical illusion through the layering of see-through surfaces.