Carol Bensema Prusa grew up in the Chicago area. She earned a B.S. in Biocommunications/Medical Illustration from the University of Illinois in 1980. Her MFA (Painting, Drawing) was received from Drake University in 1985. She taught art at Drake University and at Iowa State University for several years.
Carol Prusa’s detailed and patterned images resemble the structures of the universe and the structures of the miniscule features that make up the material world. For this reason, she conceives her work to have an immediate impact while including fine detail to lure viewers closer.
Prusa’s drawing skill combined with her interest in science led her to the rather unusual major of Medical Illustration. Sensing that work as a medical illustrator would be creatively limiting, not satisfying the desire to “think differently every day and be challenged... I figured painting was a place where I would never be satisfied so it would be a challenging and engaging life, and that I would have to learn new things all the time.”
The artist begins by covering wood panels with smooth layers of gesso, then patterns them using tiny silverpoint hatch marks. The drawing is enhanced with graphite and dry pigment combined with an acrylic binder to create thin, gray washes. Finally, white paint is mixed with acrylic binder and used either for highlights, or to add new images to the drawings.