NetWorks RI | RISD Alumni Profiles

Howard Ben Tré


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Howard Ben Tré’s sculpture, and especially, as we shall see, his public works, are permeated by idealism. Even when his sculptures are intended for more private viewing, they draw on forms that are at once simple and universal. Ben Tré recounts that he began to cast glass when he looked at the molten liquid and realized that it was in essence very similar to molten bronze. In casting it, he lets it do what comes naturally to it. For similar reasons, he doesn’t artificially color his glass, preferring the watery green color that is natural to it, though he sometimes tints the glass by adding metal oxides. And although Ben Tré is often identified as a sculptor who works with glass, he has explored a number of other materials, which he treats with equal respect. Metal appears as cladding, adding a thin skin over areas of the sculptures. Or it may be an insert into a glass form. Sometimes it is a counterelement, providing a sharp geometry to the softer curve of a glass form, an exterior frame, or an accent or band whose opacity accentuates the luminosity of the glass. Rubbing inner cavities with metal oxide, Ben Tré creates mysterious inner shadows. But there is never any trickery involved. Ben Tré continues to combine his work in the public realm with the creation of individual sculptures. These two modes play off each other, sparking new ideas and new forms. In the end, it is clear that they emanate from the same source—a sense of our common humanity and a desire to use art to bring people together. Ben Tré’s public and private commissions and projects return us to the realm where utopian visions and social ideals don’t seem so foolish after all. They remind us that dreams take root in the places in which they are cultivated.


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glass, glass casting, large scale, public spaces, sculpture, NetWorks RI, RISD, alumni


Art and Design


Stu Siegal

Executive Producer

Joseph A. Chazan, M.D.

Howard Ben Tré