Beni E. Kosh
born 1917, Cleveland
died 1993, Cleveland
Charles Elmer Harris was born in 1917 in Cleveland. While serving as a Marine in North Africa, he became deeply passionate about his African heritage. This fascination led him, during the 1960s, to legally change his name to Beni E. Kosh, which translates to “Son of Ethiopia.” Kosh was a student of Cleveland School painter Paul Travis at the Cleveland Institute of Art and later was a member of the Sho Nuff Art Group, a collective of seven African American artists working in the area.
Kosh’s work was stylistically diverse. He experimented with Cubism, portraiture, cityscapes, and abstractions during his career. This painting, from 1957, demonstrates his interest in both African sculpture and modern art, blending organic animal forms with geometric planes. Underappreciated during his lifetime, Kosh rarely exhibited or sold his work. His contributions to the local art community were only recognized in earnest after his death in 1993.