Meet a Scientologist—Gracia Bennish, Art and Soul
Scientologist and artist Gracia Bennish, creating a better world.
In a unique meld of art and activism, Gracia Bennish leaves her mark in unexpected places.
A true citizen of the world, Bennish, who lives with husband Garry in Clearwater, Florida, was born and raised in Detroit, has lived in the United States, Australia, Europe and Mexico, and has worked or volunteered in Haiti, Baghdad, Myanmar, Africa, Thailand, Cuba and Colombia.
“I knew I was an artist when I was still a child,” she says. “Aesthetics is the woof and warp of my life.”
Her paintings, photography, posters, prints and logos have been featured in museums, books, magazines, billboards and on TV newscasts.
And while her subjects are diverse, the work she loves best also carries a message that something can be done about the world we live in.
“My purpose is to create visuals that touch the heart and mind,” she says.
And so they do. Her paintings grace the pages of A Monograph of Endangered Parrots, raising awareness of the plight of these creatures. She traveled to wartorn Baghdad to document photographically the work of Lawrence Anthony, international conservationist and environmentalist. Her photographs illustrate Anthony’s book Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo. And in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, her images laid bare the human condition and inspired hope.
Bennish was living in San Francisco when she first encountered Scientology. Growing disillusioned by seeing New Age idealism degenerating into apathy, selfishness and dishonesty, she met a couple who seemed to defy the norm. She was immediately impressed by how well they treated each other and those around them. When she learned they were Scientologists, she became very curious, and they suggested she read the book Science of Survival by L. Ron Hubbard.
“It was as though the book was written just for me,” she says.
What she learned gave her the courage and incentive to end a destructive relationship. It also confirmed her belief that the real value of the artist is his or her ability to uplift the culture through aesthetics.
While pursuing her career, Bennish has also trained as a Volunteer Minister. She served on the Scientology Disaster Response team in Myanmar after cyclone Nargis in 2008 and after the Haiti earthquake. She also serves as president of United for Human Rights, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And she volunteers and works with the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, providing drug education lectures and seminars in Myanmar and Brunei and plans to bring the program to other Southeast Asian countries.
Bennish says the most important thing she has gained through Scientology is the ability and willingness to help—a quality she believes is inherent in every person.
“Help is a part of our fabric and the world needs it,” she says.
To learn more about Scientology and view videos of more than 200 Scientologists, visit the Scientology website.
The popular “Meet a Scientologist” profiles on the Church of Scientology International Video Channel at Scientology.org now total more than 200 broadcast-quality documentary videos featuring Scientologists from diverse locations and walks of life. The personal stories are told by Scientologists who are educators, teenagers, skydivers, a golf instructor, a hip-hop dancer, IT manager, stunt pilot, mothers, fathers, dentists, photographers, actors, musicians, fashion designers, engineers, students, business owners and more.
A digital pioneer and leader in the online religious community, in April 2008 the Church of Scientology became the first major religion to launch its own official YouTube Video Channel, with videos now viewed more than 7 million times.