Howard Ben Tré (Bron in May 13, 1949) is an American glass artist. He works with poured glass, creating small sculptures and large scale public artworks. Glass magazine has called Ben Tré a pioneer in the technique of using hot glass casting in fine art.
Howard Ben Tré was born May 13, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York. In the 1960s he attended Brooklyn College for two years and was a political activist. In the 1970s he left New York with his wife, Gay, for Oregon. At Portland State University he learned about the university’s well-known glass-blowing shop and began studying the creation process, finding influence in religious objects. He would obtain his bachelor’s degree at Portland and move back to the East coast where he would graduate from Rhode Island School of Design with a Masters of Fine Arts in 1980. He lives and works in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
He started by blowing glass, struggling to succeed at the skill. Through his education at Portland State University, he would discover the process of pouring glass. Pulling inspiration from African and Japanese religious icons and figures, he uses his artwork to explore connections between the two.
Ben Tré utilizes his training as an industrial manufacturing master technician to create glass artworks based on traditional methods. His studio space, located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is a former glass product manufacturing plant. He creates fine art castings by pouring molten glass into sand molds, applying heat and then cooling them for months. The form is then dug out from the sand mold, sand blasted, cut, ground, and polished. Many of Ben Tré’s works involve the use of gold leaf; by way of wrapping portions of works or installing lead bars within the pieces covered with gold leaf. The glass sculptures are often symmetrical. His wife, Gay, assists in the designing and planning of his large scale works, including the installation of his public art.
In lieu of Ben Tré’s 2001 exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art, critic Roberta Carasso described his work as being “part of the glass revolution”. The Christian Science Monitor described his poured glass works as timeless, monumental and “hulking, architectural forms he creates…existed before the dawn of recorded history.” Arthur Danto stated in 2000 that Ben Tré’s glass works were redefining and powerful, and that he creates “a kind of pleasure that we don’t usually associate with art.”
Caryatids, 1998, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Notable collections & installations
Immanent Circumstance, 1991, Norman Leventhal Park, Boston, Massachusetts
Kira’s Benches, 2007, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, New Hampshire
Mantled Figure, 1993, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island
Siphon, 1989, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Untitled, Artery Plaza, Bethesda, Maryland
Various works; Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York
Water Forest, Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington
Design Visions, 1992, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Masters of Contemporary Glass, 1997, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana
Interior/Exterior, 2000, Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California
Howard Ben Tré: Sculpting Space in the Public Realm, 2001, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Solo exhibition; 2002, Charles Cowles Gallery, New York, New York
Private Visions, Utopian Ideals: The Art of Howard Ben Tré, 2005, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York