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Melissa Benzing


Melissa Benzing is an Iowa native where she received her BFA in Performance Art and BA in Art Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 2014. Melissa taught all levels of art education before returning to graduate school. At the University of Iowa, Melissa received her MFA in 2020 with a major emphasis in Intermedia Art and a secondary emphasis in Sculpture.

Through her artistic research and practice, Melissa strives to understand and translate religious experiences to a secular world. With an emphasis on pilgrimage, she reflects on both inward and outward spiritual journeys through mental and physical spaces. Melissa’s work is a visual representation of her personal experiences as a sojourner to sacred landscapes in an attempt to understand the profound sense of purpose and awakening that was encountered along the way.  Most prominently Melissa has embarked on the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile ancient pilgrimage trail across Spain, as both a durational performance and as field research. As a deeply personal practice, Melissa uses performance art, video, and installation as avenues to understand, express and share the experiences she had while journeying. Melissa has performed and exhibited her work throughout the United States.

Research Interests

  • Performance Art and Interdisciplinary Art Practice
  • Pilgrimage and Religious Studies
  • Community-Based Art Practice

Professional Experience

  • Curator, The Daily Palette, University of Iowa (2018)
  • Visiting Performance Artist, Vertigo Performance Art Series, Waterloo Center for the Art, Waterloo, IA, 2019 and 2020

We I am most proud of the interdisciplinary environment created between faculty and students within the area of Art and Art History. We are encouraging and collaborative which ultimately cultivates a sense of belonging, creativity, and growth.  I enjoy the relationships that I get to form with each and every one of my students. I have the privilege of seeing them leap into their journeys of artistic growth. I get to act as a supporter, mentor, and teacher. In return, I learn so much from witnessing such growth from each of my students.

Melissa Benzing


Lecturer - Art

184 Noel Fine Arts Center


MA - Studio Art: Intermedia and Sculpture
University of Iowa

BFA - Performance Art
University of Northern Iowa

BA - Art Education
University of Northern Iowa