Eighteen months after the fire that destroyed their studios, the tools of their crafts, much of their work, and many other possessions, artists Dexter and Faith Benedict were all smiles as they welcomed the public to their open house celebration of their grand reopening. 

They were also celebrating the completion of Dexter’s life sized Harriet Tubman and William Seward sculpture. The sculptures have now travelled to the Schenectady Public Library entrance for the unveiling May 17. 

Speaking of the fire in a later interview, Dexter said, “That day, and the days after, were devastating. Right away, we decided to rebuild. With the help of our Mennonite neighbors, the Keuka College community, and the Arts Center of Yates County, we rebuilt our studio better than ever.”

The Benedicts gave special thanks to friend Don Wertman who helped Dexter with casting, finishing, and loading Harriet and William onto the truck for Schenectady; to the Arts Center for raising the funds that purchased Faith’s new electric kiln; and to their Mennonite neighbors. 

For that greatest help, Faith now works with their schools providing ceramics classes. “We want to give back to the community that gave us so much,” says Dexter. “The Mennonites knew we needed help and they showed up to help. I think this is a worthy way to think and conduct ourselves as human beings.”