An interview of Howard Ben Tré conducted 2007 July 7, by Josephine Shea, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the artist's studio, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Ben Tré speaks of his childhood in Rockaway Park, New York; his Polish immigrant father who was a woodworker and artist; inheriting a particular aesthetic and sense of hard work from his father; attending Brooklyn Technical High School to play football but not graduating; moving to Marshall, Missouri to attend Missouri Valley College for one year; attending Brooklyn College; becoming involved in Students for a Democratic Society, the antiwar movement and civil rights movement of the 1960s; traveling to Cuba as part of the first Venceremos Brigade to cut sugarcane in 1969; meeting his first wife, Gay, in Cuba and returning to New York with her; organizing a food co-op and community events in Brooklyn; moving to Portland, Oregon; working in construction for the city before going back to school to study veterinarian medicine at Portland State University; discovering the glass studio in a garage at Portland State; meeting Dale Chihuly and working at Pilchuck Glass School; utilizing the foundry skills learned from Brooklyn Technical High to work with glass in casting and cope and drag methods; his series Burial Boxes and the influence of ancient architecture and ceremonial Chinese bronzes; the rise of the studio glass movement as symptomatic of socio-political-economic times, not just the pioneering efforts of Harvey Littleton and Dominic Labino; traveling throughout Europe with Gay; visiting Stanislav Libenský and Jaraslava Brychtová in Czechoslovakia; visiting Dan Dailey at Cristallerie Daum in France; attending Rhode Island School of Design [RISD]; his first show at Hadler/Rodriguez Gallery in 1980; teaching experiences at Haystack Mountain School of Craft and Appalachian Center for Craft; building and installing an oven at Blenko Glass in Milton, West Virginia and at Super Glass in Brooklyn; working with Mold Melted Glass Studio in Pelechov, Czech Republic; the history of glass and early glass-working techniques; his many commissions, including sited public projects such as Post Office Square in Boston; the adoption of his name, Ben Tré; return visits to Cuba; working with RISD to create a winter study session in Havana; and his view of artists as artists, not defined by medium. Ben Tré also recalls Anthony Parker, Italo Scanga, Ron Onorato, Alice Aycock, Ferdinand Hampson, Steven Polander, Karen LaMonte, among others.
Biographical / Historical:
Howard Ben Tré (1949- 2020) was a glass artist from Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Josephine Shea is a curator from Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan.
Originally recorded 3 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 3 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Enders, Robert K. (Robert Kendall), 1899-1988, interviewee Search this
2 audiotapes (Reference tapes).
The Oral History Project is part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. The purpose of the project is to conduct and collect interviews with current and retired members
of the Smithsonian staff who have made significant contributions, administrative and scholarly, to the Institution. The project's goal is to supplement the published record
and manuscript collections in the Archives, focusing on the history of the Institution and contributions to the increase and diffusion of knowledge made by its scholars.
The Robert Kendall Enders interviews were recorded and donated to Smithsonian Institution Archives because of his experiences in Panama during the early development of
the research station. Additional information about the Canal Zone Biological Area can be found in the Records Relating to the Canal Zone Biological Area, Office of the Secretary,
1912-1965, and the Canal Zone Biological Area Records, 1918-1964, also housed in the Smithsonian Archives. The Oral History Collection also contains several other sets of
interviews on the history of the research station.
The Robert Kendall Enders Interview was conducted by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute research biologist, Neal Griffith Smith, on April 13, 1976. He discusses
his introduction to Barro Colorado Island; his subsequent research trips there; recollections of fellow scientists and staff on the island; comparisons between the island
then and now; and suggestions on how to improve the island for research purposes. The interviews consist of 2.0 hours of audiotape cassettes and 56 pages of transcript.
Robert Kendall Enders (1899-1988) was born on September 22, 1899, in Essex, Iowa. After receiving his A.B. and Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Michigan in 1925
and 1927 respectively, he became an Assistant Professor of Biology at Union College. In 1928, he became an Assistant Professor at Missouri Valley College, and in 1932 was
promoted to full Professor. In 1966, he also became Emeritus Professor of Zoology at Swarthmore College. He retired from Missouri Valley College in 1970.
Enders was encouraged by Harvard biologist Thomas Barbour to visit Barro Colorado Island (BCI). He applied for a National Research Council Fellowship for funding and in
1930 arrived on the island. In 1935 and 1937, he returned, and in 1941, he visited BCI again as a Research Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. While
conducting his research in mammalogy on BCI, he observed the development of the research station. As a Professor, he continued his visits to Panama, bringing students to the
Canal Zone Biological Area on working field trips.
The Canal Zone Biological Area (CZBA) was established in 1923 on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal as a reserve for scientific study of the Tropics. Originally
designed as a consortium of universities and government agencies by Thomas Barbour, William Morton Wheeler, James Zetek, and others, CZBA was transferred to the Smithsonian
Institution in 1946 and in 1966 was renamed the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).
Restricted. Contact SIHistory@si.edu to request permission.