Why Creative Alchemist Ben Wright is Obsessed with Science and Art

Why Creative Alchemist Ben Wright is Obsessed with Science and Art

In college, Ben Wright tracked songbirds from New Hampshire to Jamaica. His eclectic mixed-media work draws from his studies in evolutionary biology, crafts, and conceptual art. Like an inventor experimenting in the lab, Wright combines the chaotic creative process with scientific order in his fabricated objects and ‘hyper-sensory installations.’ His goal is to “better understand human nature through our clumsy, if well-intentioned, interactions with our ever-evolving environment.”

Not Real Art Artist Of The Day Series

A dual obsession with science and art gives his work a dizzying sense of collision. His dystopian glimpses of imaginary realities are full of irony and play. Wright’s mad scientist approach integrates results of his glass-blowing skills with house plants, plastic swimming pools, sound, mirrors, and H20. Immersive installations and live performances give the viewers the sense of visiting a warped aquatic theme park or a toy store run amuck.

My work cobbles the detritus of our consumer culture into humorous environments that overload the senses and soften conceptual defenses. Together as artists we must start to imagine the absurd outcomes of the future and serve as catalysts for creative solutions to the challenges ahead.

With degrees from Dartmouth and RISD, Wright seems impeccably credentialed for a career in the arts, but has taken a more humble whimsical approach. By operating in a serious and joking manner, he aims to “tempt the eyeballs of innocent bystanders and wise children alike and pull them into a self-guided adventure.” His esoteric mix of scientific objects, recycled electronics, and vernacular artifacts are both a wry commentary on the chaos of contemporary life, and a welcome invitation to play.

Table of Contents

Ben Wright — Artist Statement

Ben Wright. Headshot
Ben Wright

My work is grounded in the starkly dystopic reality of the Anthropocene yet presents its audience with a playfully immersive aesthetic that aims to ask more questions than it answers. I operate in awe of the beauty and complexity of interlocking networks that envelop us on a daily basis. I travel along the tendrils of these biological and cultural interrelationships to unearth their expressive or metaphoric potentials. By isolating evocative interactions, I magnify the awkwardness with which well-intentioned humans entangle themselves in our poorly understood environments. Intellectual triggers can range from the physics of a sneeze to the psychological schism between man and beast. A rotating cast of characters and icons migrate through my work, inserting both narrative threads to nowhere and much needed comedic breaks.

Regardless of the subject matter, my process begins with research that meanders into all spheres of knowledge, from scientific data to popular myth. I follow links both obvious and absurd across various fields of study and beyond their logical limits to guide my viewer towards moments of wonder. Early concept explorations take the form of drawing or collaged mixed-media imagery, much of which later becomes encapsulated in sculpture and four-dimensional visual/sonic installations. When seduced by a sexy line of inquiry, I selectively conjoin scientific, artistic and craft practices to build a cohesive bower of work.

Craft and the physical pleasure of making are the fuel for my intellectual flights. My daily studio practice is a gleeful carousel of sketching, fabrication, technology and material problem solving. I continually test new media as lenses to convey my ideas, believing that perpetual experimentation and dedicated observation are necessary to attain an intimate knowledge of any material. I erode the barriers of tradition to encourage a fluidity of creation unchecked by perceived function or limits of technology, craft, art, or science.

Ben Wright – Grant Submission Work

Ben Wright. Vivisection I room installation, 2017
“Vivisection I” (2017)
Artwork 2 – Details
Collaged images, found objects, custom electronics, lasers, neon, mirror,
plants, live ocean water, interactive soundscape, time
20 x 20-foot room

The viewer is immersed in a four-dimensional interactive collage of image, objects, electronics and biological organisms that together represent a chaotic slice of the artist’s brain. This environment presents the threads of foundational ideas of the artist’s practice as they exist layered amongst personal baggage and conceptual flight of fancy.

Ben Wright. The Invasive Species room installation, 2019
“The Invasive Species” (2019)
Four-dimensional collage, video, photographs,
kiln worked glass, mirror, plants, plastic
30 x 17-foot room

Immersive installation of interlocking time-based artworks and four-dimensional collage examining the concept of an invasive species through absurd yet evocative case studies.

Ben Wright. The Wettest Place, 2018
“The Wettest Place” (2018)
Blown glass, neon, faux jungle growth, collaged image, glass lenses
44 x 34 x 12 inches

The Dynamic sculptural system shifts randomly and unexpectedly from the glaring heat of neon red to cool washing blues setting an atmosphere for the participant to digest a surreal four-dimensional collage of image and form.

Detail of “Le gaz d'éclairage” (2017)
Collaged image, custom electronics, plant life, mirror, soundtrack
Dimensions: (Roughly the same as my own) 72 x 36 x 36 inches

This humble shipping crate uses intermittent bursts of seductive bird song to lure viewers towards the peepholes and down the rabbit hole of this immersive kaleidoscopic world.

Ben Wright. Still from a Live Performance, 2018
“The Curious Tale Of The Love Nut: An Anthropomorphic
Love Story For The Anthropocene” (2018)
Live Performance

A still image from a live performance at the Chrysler Museum of Art. This surrealist and absurdist performance explored the parallels between the arc of human history and the natural history of the bi-lobed and striking anthropomorphic Coco De Mer, more commonly known as the Lovenut.

Ben Wright – Artist Bio

Ben Wright has an unusually diverse creative practice which draws in equal parts from his academic studies in evolutionary biology, traditional crafts, and conceptual art as well as from a life and career rich in collaborative synergy. While an undergrad at Dartmouth College, Ben tracked song birds from the forests of upstate New Hampshire to tropical Jamaica for the renowned ornithologist Richard Homes. His art making often mirrors that chaotic yet scientific process and endeavors to better understand human nature through our clumsy, if well intentioned, interactions with our ever-evolving environment. He expresses himself through a wide range of fabricated objects, media and experiences that increasingly are coalescing into hyper sensory installations. Ben has taught and exhibited the fruits of this approach at numerous universities and venues in the US and abroad in Germany, Turkey, Denmark, Japan, Belgium, Poland and Australia. He is currently the Artistic Director of Pilchuck Glass School.

Ben Wright on the Web And Social Media

Here’s where to find out more about Ben on the web and social media:

About the Artist of the Day Series

All artworks have been published with permission of the artist. Our "Artist of the Day" series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100's of grant applications we receive. The "Not Real Art Grant" is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists, and this is one way we honor all entries we receive. Find out more about the grant program here.

Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis

Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis is a writer, photographer, and former New York gallerist based in Richmond, Virginia. She has a masters in fine art, a BA in Russian literature, and is earning a masters in nonfiction writing at Johns Hopkins University, AAP.