Ben Butler’s (b. 1978) sculpture explores its environment using contrast between biomorphic shapes and mathematical rigidity as well as responding acutely to the viewer’s space. His forms play on objects found in nature, but often with geometric precision. Repetition, curvature, and accumulation are all crucial themes in Butler’s objects. However, these elements all play out in unique ways that test the limits of where a sculpture should and does exist on the brink of either collapse or eruption.
One of the primary materials Butler works in is wood. This offers a fitting setting for Butler’s process of methodical growth, like the rings on a tree. He plays on imagery of both angular and amorphous structures to show the unpredictability of both art and life. In contrast to the strength and discrete elements of wood, Butler also works with gypsum cement, a malleable and variably shaped material. His drawings also use simplicity of material to both extend outward and conform to the simplicity of geometry.
Harkening to Minimalist and Postminimalist practices, these objects bring attention to the spectator’s acute position within space and time and provide perspectives on organization of both the natural and artificial world.
Inspired by math and science growing up, Butler entered college at Bowdoin with prospective studies in both art and neuroscience. He went on to pursue a degree in art, and received his MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Butler has experience teaching at Rhodes College and the Memphis College of Art and been a part of many residency programs including the MacDowell Colony, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and the Ucross Foundation.
Butler has been featured in publications including the Boston Phoenix, the Chicago Tribune, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Sculpture Magazine. A recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Individual Artist Grant, Butler has exhibited extensively throughout the United States including in Texas, Washington, California, Florida, New York, and Illinois.