Annica Benning: Keeping
Arizona’s Past in Mind.
When you think of a 14 year-old, you wouldn't normally think of an author and photographer, but that's what Annica Benning is. As a Scottsdale Preparatory Academy freshman, Annica has not only written a book, Arizona: Nations and Art but has embellished it with her own photography as well. Her fascination of Arizona Native American culture and history inspired her book which features Native American crafts like rock art, contemporary paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, baskets, and weavings.
“I lived at the library and Google became my best friend” says Annica, who spent countless hours over many months researching Native American culture and contemporary elements. She went through seven rough drafts of her book since according to Annica “there was always something to modify.” She is hoping to have copies of her book distributed to all 145,000 fourth graders in Arizona on March 2nd, 2009. Her book is “an attempt to introduce the glory of the Native Arizona world as part of the state history course” that is taught at the fourth grade level.
Annica traveled to different parts of Arizona where she met with artisans, artists, jewelers, and gallery owners who all fueled her passion to inform her generation of how important it is “to understand the beauty bound in the Native American cultures and to appreciate it.” Her motive for writing Arizona: Nations and Art was to enlighten readers to recognize that the Native Americans “were here before us and so little attention is dedicated to them.”
The book features a “Questions and Answers” section, a twenty-nine word glossary, a food recipe, and fascinating historical locations that should be visited. The Skywalk Bridge in the Grand Canyon and Montezuma Castle National Monument are two locations that Annica believes are “of exceptional beauty.” She has filled every page with insight of past cultural arts, and contemporary arts that have been influenced. With her colorful photographs it is estimated that one million people each year will “discover Arizona’s Native American nations, arts, artists, and culture.”
Her work has gained praise from the Hopi and Navajo Offices of Cultural Preservation, along with honor from Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross. Annica has been nominated for the 2009 Arizona Governor’s Art Award where her nomination is being placed in one of three categories: Art in Education, Community, and Individual. Annica has devoted her time to creating a book that will raise awareness and appreciation for Arizona’s cultures that will be vital in keeping future focus on Arizona’s cultural roots. She has impressed local artists, political leaders, and fellow students to keep Arizona’s heritage in mind.