Artist Ben Buswell is best known for his work with photographs – work that re-purposes photographs as sculptural objects. 

“If photography is all about capturing light and holding that light in a way that you kind of see that light and you fall into that light in the photograph,” he said, “I’m embellishing the photographs in a way that uses the natural light of the space that the viewer exists in.”

Artist Ben Buswell works on his latest piece

Artist Ben Buswell works on his latest piece

Bruce Barrow/OPB

An Oregon native from Dallas, Ben’s grandfather was a woodworker and his dad taught him to weld at the age of nine so it made sense when he began to study architecture. 

But during a break from college, he discovered that what he really wanted to make was art. 

Returning to school, he earned his BFA from Oregon State and then went to the University of Wisconsin for an MFA, where he worked casting objects in bronze and aluminum and combining them with objects built from wood. 

He sees his work with photographs – laboriously carving, cutting, heating and shaping the paper image so that it becomes an object in three dimensions - as an extension of this long fascination with physical objects and materials.  

“Photographs for me are a material,” he said. “People don’t a lot of times know what the pieces are made of, and that speaks to the sculptural aspect.”

His beautiful finished work takes on a presence that transcends the photograph while still referencing it, filling space and capturing light much like the original object before it was photographed.

Artist Ben Buswell uses a tool to etch into his photographs, giving the illusion of depth. 

Artist Ben Buswell uses a tool to etch into his photographs, giving the illusion of depth. 

Bruce Barrow/OPB