Tressa Pond Emerson Benson

b. 1896, Bucksport, ME - d. 1987, Tallahassee, FL

Tressa Pond Emerson Benson was born in Bucksport, ME, in 1896. She attended Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, VA, and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Syracuse University. She also studied painting with artists Charles Hawthorne and C. Ambrose Webster in Providence, RI. In 1923, she won a fellowship from Syracuse University to study painting in Europe, where she attended the Academy Colorossi and the Academy de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. In 1925, she began teaching at the College of Fine Arts at University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where, in 1930, she met her husband, artist and fellow instructor Ben Benson. The couple left Nebraska that year and settled in Chicago. Benson exhibited numerous times at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as at such important venues as the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; and a solo exhibition at the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha in 1943. She won numerous prizes for her artwork, and continued to teach at various institutions and finally in her own studio in Downers Grove, IL, from 1940 to 1968. In 1987, she died at age 90 in Tallahassee, FL.

Cash and Carry on Sixty-Third Street depicts a vibrant street scene under the “L” tracks in the South Shore neighborhood. It was shown at the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual exhibition of artists in Chicago and vicinity in 1932, and at Delphic Studios, New York, with the Chicago Society of Artists. Benson captures pedestrians carrying packages and hustling across the canvas, their eyes averted or hidden by the brims of their hats, perhaps to convey the anonymity and constant motion of the modern city.

Lisa Meyerowitz


Dawdy, Doris. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago: Sage Books [1974] 1985.

Illinois Women Artists’ Project,

Yochim, Louise Dunn. Role and Impact: The Chicago Society of Artists. Chicago: Chicago Society of Artists, 1979.

Works by Tressa Pond Emerson Benson