Exhibiting artistic talent as early as primary school when he won his first art contest Ben Watts began his life in art. During his teenage years he pursued photography by building his own darkroom and continued studying that medium throughout his college years at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He also studied drawing and painting preferring his art classes to the ones necessary to earn his BBA in accounting, in preparation to return home to Columbia to join his father and uncle in the family retail business in 1980.
Ben continued working in retail for the next twenty years, always feeling his calling was elsewhere. In 1997 Ben discovered his gift for the medium of sculpture and in 2000 chose to follow his lifelong aspiration of pursuing art as his full time career.
Since then Ben has nurtured his gift by studying with some of the most recognized sculp-tors in America. These include Cowboy Artists, Mehl Lawson and Grant Speed, and premier portrait artist, Blair Buswell. Ben has shown his work in galleries and art shows all over the country from Scottsdale, Arizona to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Lakeland, Florida, and has won numerous awards for his work.
Ben creates original wildlife, western, and figurative works, as well as commissioned monuments and bronze portraits. His commissioned portraits include NFL great Walter Payton and U.S. Senator Howell Heflin of Alabama, an 11-foot monument to the memory of legendary archer Fred Bear for the Wonders of Wildlife Museum at Bass Pro Shops’ Spring-field, MO facility and a larger than life John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, for Millsaps College. Ben has proudly accepted commissions from several higher education insti-tutions around south Mississippi in recent years, installing a monument of Coach Dobie Holden on the campus of Pearl River Community College, in Poplarville, Miss., a beautiful eagle sculp-ture for the Alumni Association at the University of Southern Mississippi, and a portrait of Wil-liam Carey for William Carey University. He recently finished a portrait of Coach Bull Sullivan for East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss.
Ben’s work studio is in Columbia, where he is associated with the Columbia Artists Co-operative and its Artwistic Revolution Gallery.