"Canned Mushrooms #1" 2020, metal can, paper
"Canned Caged Bird" 2020, metal can, paper
"Canned Sardines, Obviously" 2020, metal can, paper
"Canned Trout, Sadly" 2023, metal can, paper
"Three Can Circus" 2021, metal can, paper
"Canned Herring Fisherman" 2020, metal can, paper
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"Skógafoss Study No.1, Iceland" 2019, watercolor on paper
"Old House Near Keelung River, Taiwan" 2011, watercolor on paper
"The Errant Elephant No.1, Ghana" 2004, watercolor and gold leaf on paper
"The Spiral Staircase in the Ruins in Merida, Spain" 1996, watercolor on paper
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"British Moon Landing Postage Stamps" 2022, digital print
"Newspaper Clipping" 2022, digital print
"Ticket for Beatles 2016 Concert" 2023, digital print
"WTC 40th Anniversary Brochure" 2023, digital print
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"Digital Migration Series — Komsomolsk Murmanskiy Station MMK to Cape Town Station CPT", digital print, 2023
15.	"Digital Migration Series — Tanjong Pagar Railway Station SIN to Bus Terminal Reykjavík", digital print, 2023
"30th Street PHL to Terminal de Autobuses Mercado MGA" 2022, digital print
"30th Street PHL to Our Lady of Victory Church Inuvik YEV" 2022, digital print
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Member Portfolio

Benjamin B. Olshin

Philadelphia, PA


Artist Statement

My work follows a number of different paths, drawing from my interests in travel, investigating other cultures, history, philosophy, and science. I worked for many years in drawing and painting, and then small, constructed spaces. Later, I went on to create works in digital media, as well. These three strands have been my main areas of practice now for several years.

Currently, my more traditional drawing and painting works focus on the philosophy of landscape (in which I have developed and taught a graduate seminar), and the rending of particular places in time and space. This led to my creation of miniatures: small, "captive" works or "canned art" -- pieces that experiment with the idea of limitations. In the third area of my artistic practice, I engage in digital work that looks at the ontology of objects from other worlds, and a series that explores the nature of the "long journey".

Artist Biography

Benjamin B. Olshin was born in the United States, but he spent much of his life abroad. He began with a university trip to Sri Lanka for a program in indigenous development, and then a stay in Italy, where he took courses in archaeology and history. He later attended the Rhode Island School of Design programme in Rome, doing a series of watercolour paintings and drawings there. Following graduation from Williams College, he went to Surrey, England, where he taught watercolour painting, calligraphy, and crafts. Later, while living in Portugal, the American Cultural Center in Lisbon put on an exhibit of his watercolor paintings and pen-and-ink sketches. He returned to Portugal some years later on a Fulbright grant, doing research and attending AR.CO (Centro de Arte e Comunicaçâo Visual), taking courses in abstract sculpture and design. During this period, he conducted studies in the history of cartography and exploration, and did a series of drawings and paintings in Lisbon and along the Portuguese coast.

Olshin completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (I.H.P.S.T.), at the University of Toronto, in September of 1993. His dissertation involved the history of cartography, examining early maps and sea charts. During these years, he also completed a series of watercolors in Toronto, did design and drafting work for an architecture firm in São Paulo, Brazil, and worked for an architecture atelier in Tokyo, Japan, designing, drafting, building architectural models, and doing restoration work. He also travelled through other parts of Japan during this period, and then journeyed to Hong Kong and Tahiti, doing numerous sketches, watercolors, and oil paintings.

During this time, Olshin received a grant to travel through western Turkey, where he did a number of sketches, finished drawings, and paintings. Under an NEH grant, he studied history, indigenous art, and craft traditions in Ghana, West Africa. There, he completed an extensive illustrated journal, as well as a watercolor series. Three years later, he won a second NEH grant, and studied Chinese philosophy at the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii. While there, he again put together a journal and a series of watercolor sketches. Other recent travels have included Singapore, Indonesia, Iceland, and a return to Brazil, all trips that led to new series of sketches, drawings and paintings.

In his position as an Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Design at Ming Chuan University in Taipei, Taiwan, Olshin developed and taught a variety of courses in the area of fine arts and design, including drawing, painting, model-making, and the history of design. During this period, he also worked as a designer for two glass art companies, Liuli Gongfang (琉璃工房) and Tittot (琉園).Upon his return to the U.S., he taught courses in model-making, painting and drawing, Renaissance design and engineering, Asian art history, and a number of other areas at various schools in San Francisco and Philadelphia. More recently, Olshin served as a Professor of Philosophy, History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and Industrial Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, as well as an instructor at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). Olshin's academic background in the history and philosophy of science has inspired his synthesis of his scholarly and artistic interests: his 2017 book, Deciphering Reality: Simulations, Tests, and Designs, examines how both artists and scientists model reality.


University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
MA + PhD, History and Philosophy of Science and Technology

AR.CO: Centro de Arte & Comunicação Visual (Lisbon, Portugal)
Program Studies in Fine Arts and Design

Williams College, Williamstown, MA, USA
BA, Classics and Ancient History

Rhode Island School of Design (Rome, Italy)
Program Studies in Drawing and Painting

Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (Rome, Italy)
Program Studies in Archaeology, History, and Latin

Awards & Honors

Fulbright Specialist Award (University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland)

Art is Essential / ARTisPHL award for Rainbow Walk, with Kelly McQuain

Public Financial Management (PFM) Annual Art Exhibition award for Canned Art series

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - Summer Institute (East-West Center, Univ. of Hawai'i)

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - Summer Seminar (Ghana)

World Affairs Council Grant (Turkey)

Fulbright Scholar Award (Lisbon, Portugal)


Da Vinci Art Alliance (DVAA), Philadelphia, PA, USA

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Baltimore, MD, USA

Washington Map Society, Washington, DC, USA

Selected Exhibitions

Collective Awareness, Da Vinci Art Alliance (DVAA), Philadelphia, PA, USA

Annual Art Exhibition
, Public Financial Management (PFM), Philadelphia, PA, USA


Fieldwork, Germantown Academy, Ft. Washington, PA, USA


Book cover series for author Nuno Morais' novels Destinos Cruzados (2022),
Perdus Pour Toujours (2021), and Guerra Oculta (2015), Lisbon, Portugal

Poster series for Great International Tea House, Philadelphia, PA, USA (2004)

Professional Experience

Instructor in Architectural Design, Philosophy and History of Design, and Physics

Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, Maryland, USA), 2014-present

Professor of Industrial Design, Philosophy, and Physics

University of the Arts (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA), 2004-2021 (ret.)

Visiting Associate Professor of Art History and Design

International College + Department of Design, Ming Chuan University (Taipei, Taiwan), 2010-2011

Visiting Adjunct Associate Professor of Design

Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University (Taipei, Taiwan), 2010-2011

Selected Lectures and Talks

"Indigenous Mapping: Cultural and Psychological Sources", talk presented to the Washington Map Society (13 January 2022).

"A Philosophy of Reality: Simulated Universes and Their Problems" / "Heimspeki veruleikans: Vandinn vi› hermialheima"), talk presented at the University of Iceland / Háskóla Íslands (23 September 2021).

"Art, the Mughals, and Jahangir’s Globe", talk presented to the Chicago Map Society (18 March 2021).

"Indigenous Mapping: Culture Creates Cartography", paper given at the 27th International Conference on the History of Cartography (ICHC), Belo Horizonte, Brazil (8 - 14 July 2017).

"Design Thinking: Myth, Meaning, and Making", presentation given at the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) 2016 conference, Sarasota, Florida, U.S.A. (3 November 2016).

"Design for Social Responsibility: A Natural Education Model", University of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, U.K. (8 March 2016).

"Harmonious Interaction: Process, Practice, and a Sustainable Society", paper given at the Fifth Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind, Lembang, Indonesia (28 May 2013).

"A Look at the ‘Marco Polo’ Maps: Curiosities and Questions", presentation given at the New York Public Library for the New York Map Society, New York, New York, U.S.A. (12 May 2012).

Selected Publications

Olshin, Benjamin B., "Holism as Idealism: The Zhuangzi and the Concept of the ‘Understanding of the Men of Ancient Times'", Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies 47.1 (March 2021).

Olshin, Benjamin B., Lost Knowledge, The Concept of Vanished Technologies and Other Human Histories (Leiden: Brill, 2019).

Olshin, Benjamin B., Deciphering Reality: Simulations, Tests, and Designs (Leiden: Brill, 2017).

Olshin, Benjamin B., The Mystery of the Marco Polo Maps (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014).

Olshin, Benjamin B., "Sophistical Devices: Leonardo da Vinci’s Investigations of Perpetual Motion", ICON: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology 15 (2009): 1-39.

Olshin, Benjamin B., "Debating the Authentic: An Outsider’s View of West African Culture in Ghana", The University of Cape Coast Journal of Philosophy and Culture 1.2 (July 2004): 1-20.

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