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Ben Freeman

Ben Freeman Biography


Ben Freeman creates large-scale multimedia constructions utilizing emotionally charged personal objects, such as antique photographs, historical text, diaries, letters and journals. These elements are layered and structured to form a context that transcends time and feeds the human lust for immortality. The multi-media works incorporate a process of photomontage and collage, with large transparent photographs projected and developed directly onto the surface of the collaged underlayers. The lead base of the artwork often has cryptic inscriptions, emphasizing the theme as well as the power of human emotion, and asking questions which, more often than not, require an answer from the viewer rather than the artist.

The process Freeman uses in the execution of this work has grown out of many years of experimenting with various techniques in a never-ending search to better render the feelings he seeks to express. The final result is achieved through photomontage, collage and then projection and development of photographs directly onto the surface of the canvas. The work begins with collaging the basic elements (archival objects such as love letters or antique photographs found mainly through forays in the marchés aux puces in Paris, handwritten text on documents and printed text). Examples of photographs that Freeman uses in his work include film starlets or turn of the century actresses, old class photographs, snapshots from family albums or portraits. These pieces are glued to canvas on a plywood backing using a polymer medium.

The most prominent metaphor for time and memory in Freeman’s work is the use of layering, combining surfaces of varying thickness to suggest distance and clarity of what is recollected. Several layers of materials are collaged to add a sense of depth and emotional complexity. Handwritten text can be superimposed over them, and once complete the result is sealed with an oil-based resin. The surface of the canvas is then treated with a photo-emulsion, which in essence turns the entire canvas in a light sensitive surface. A chosen negative is then projected onto the surface of the piece and developed under darkroom conditions with photographic chemicals. Monumental images are thus combined with the smaller and more detailed images and text. The resulting image can then be modified with oil colors. A lead base is most often attached, sometimes with a sculptural dimension added by cutting through the plywood backing to create alcoves and then by manipulating the lead itself. Bolts, molding, lace, dried flowers, Japanese papers or other textural materials may be applied to the image to enhance the composition. The thickness varies from the ephemeral effects of lace and gauze to the thickness of cardboard or lead. The resulting artwork is sealed by the addition of an epoxy resin coat, which unifies and encapsulates it.

As Peter Hay Halpert comments in an essay on Ben Freeman, “…his work is an amalgam of techniques, initiated by collaging layers of different elements, such as 19th century photographs or documents, and then overlaying them with projected imagery. As with many contemporary artists, Freeman’s art operates on multiple levels. On the one, process is integral to the art. Thus, Freeman’s complex methodology is an essential ingredient in creating an art object. But on another level, it is also clearly a process for grappling with important ideas and emotions.”

EDUCATION:

School of Design / North Carolina State University

• Bachelor Fine Arts
• Bachelor Architecture
• Master Architecture
• L’Ecole Grande Chaumiere / Drawing, Paris France
• La Foundation Le Corbusier / Atelier Oubrerie. Paris France
• Fellowship program Harvard Graduate School of Design
• WA Residential- Living room piece/sculpture

SELECTED GROUP AND SOLO EXHIBITIONS:

2011

Art Palm Beach, Palm Beach FL, Evan Lurie Gallery
Art Chicago, Chicago, IL Evan Lurie Gallery

2010

“Crossing Paths”, Evan Lurie Gallery, Carmel IN

2008

Solo exhibition of “Unexpected Destinations”, Stone Hill College, Easton, MA
Unexpected Destinations, Evan Lurie Gallery, Carmel, Indiana
Presumed Innocence, DeCordova Museum, Boston, Massachusetts

2007

Art DC, Westwood Gallery
Art Miami, Miami, Florida
Westwood Gallery, New York City, New York
Art Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, Kidder Smith Gallery
Kidder Smith Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts

2006

Seduction, Kidder Smith Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
Art Miami, Miami, Florida, Westwood Gallery
Temptation, Westwood Gallery, New York City, New York

2005

Art Miami, Miami, Florida
Westwood Gallery, New York City, New York
Pretty Sweet, DeCordova Museum, Boston, Massachusetts

2002

Return to Romance, Westwood Gallery, New York City, New York

2000

Romance, Westwood Gallery, New York City, New York

1999

New Acquisitions, DeCordova Museum, Boston, Massachusetts

1998

DeCordova Museum, Boston, Massachusetts

1997

Lenore Gray Gallery, Providence, Rhode Island
Family Pictures, Chapel Art Center, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire

1994

New Artists – Photography Outside Tradition, Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire
Thorne Sagendorf Gallery, Keene State College, Keene, New Hampshire

1991

Connected Past, Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
Maps in Contemporary Art, DeCordova Museum, Boston, Massachusetts
Salon Grands et Jeunes D’Aujourd, Paris France

1990

Salon Grands et Jeunes D’Aujourd, Paris France

1989

ARA GALLERY, Hamilton MA (SOLO)Salon Grands et Jeunes D’Aujourd, Paris France

1988

Salon Grands et Jeunes D’Aujourd, Paris France

1987

Salon Grands et Jeunes D’Aujourd, Paris Franc

1986

Vorpal Gallery, New York City, New York
Salon Grands et Jeunes D’Aujourd, Paris France

1985

Vorpal Gallery, New York City, New York
Salon Grands et Jeunes D’Aujourd, Paris France

SELECTED COLLECTIONS:

DeCordova Museum, Boston Massachusetts
Reebok Corporation, International Executive Offices, Needham Ma
Hotel Meridan Montparnasse Main Lobby, Paris France
Sheraton Corporation, International Headquarters, Boston, Massachusetts
Rogers and Rudman Attorneys, Boston, Massachusetts
Tucker Anthony Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts
Bank of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Marshall Fields Corporation, Executive Offices, Houston, Texas
WBUR Broadcasting, Boston Massachusetts
The Boston Foundation, Boston Massachusetts
Hotel XV Beacon, Boston Massachusetts