I am a visual artist who was raised in Wahpeton, North Dakota and now lives in Moorhead, Minnesota.  In 2014 I  left my career of teaching in public school  to explore my dream of being a full-time artist and independent teacher in private and community settings. I continue to teach as I believe it is my calling to help others grow in their own artistic journey. 

I have Art Education and Elementary Education degrees from Minnesota State University Moorhead in Moorhead, Minnesota. I teach group and private lessons, specializing in designing courses for those who say, “I am not an artist; I can’t draw a stick person; I don’t have an artistic bone in my body,….” I like to empower people to create and enjoy working with various media. I teach courses in sketching, watercolor, mixed media collage, and workshops that explore elements, principles, and composition within the mediums of drawing and watercolor.  I also take workshops myself to enlighten my mind and improve my skills as an artist. I have learned from nationally known teachers Frank Webb,  Roy Swanson, Ratindra Das, Dale Laitinen, Robert Burridge, Janet Rogers, Marilyn Hughey Phillis, June Young, Michael Schlichting, Donna Zagotta, Arne Westerman, Michael Reardon, Anda Styler, Tom Francesconi, Keiko Tanabe, Andy Evansen, Mark Mehaffey, and Iain Stewart. These teachers have all been a blessing to me and I am so grateful for their expertise and knowledge that they generously share.

My studio is named Mourning Dove Studio. I have a penchant for birds, and the mourning dove represents my mother, the most important influence in my life. She used to stand on the back steps and call my sisters and me home at night by mimicking the call of the mourning dove. She encouraged me at a young age to pursue my interests in art, nature, sports, and reading. 

My work is emotionally and spiritually inspired by everything around me to include music, nature, sports, people, animals, and the simplest of objects, such as a pebble or a twig. I believe that being an artist is a gift from God and one of life’s greatest blessings. To honor Him, I enjoy sharing my knowledge of art with others. It gives me great happiness to share my process of creating art from start to finish. 

 I am a signature member of the Red River Watercolor Society  and a member of the Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists (FMVA) in Fargo,ND-Moorhead,MN. I am also a  member of The Red Door Art Gallery in Wahpeton, ND, and the Coeur d’Alene Art Association in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I’ve also been a member of the River Forks Watercolor Society in Grand Forks, ND, and the Northstar Watermedia Society in the Twin Cities, MN.  My artwork is sold through my home-based gallery called Double Trouble Gallery, which was created in 2020 by twin sister Beverly Benda and me. Double Trouble Gallery is attached to my Mourning Dove Studio. I participate in regional exhibits and have won several national awards for my efforts. 

In 2019, I had a duo show with my twin sister, Beverly Benda, in Wahpeton  titled, Twintuition: Paintings by the Benda Twins. This exhibit featured over 50 original paintings by Beverly and me.  In March 2020 we opened an online store named the Benda Twins Art Store. in which you can purchase art with options of delivery, pickup, or mailed shipping until June 2022. 

I participate in the FMVA Fargo-Moorhead area Studio Crawl the first weekend of October. This is a free community event during which artists  invite the public to see our studio spaces, watch demonstrations, and have an opportunity to purchase art directly from us.   I have recently added a Spring Open House before Mother’s Day each year.  It gives me great happiness to have many opportunities to participate in art events in the region. If you are interested in purchasing art on this website, please contact me directly by emailing me on the Contact page of this website.