Skip to main content

Tinkering Tinkerer: Benjamin Cowden

Benjamin Cowden

Benjamin Cowden began working with metal during an undergraduate anthropology project in Cameroon in 1997, where he studied how Baka Pygmies turned worn machetes into utility knives. He later worked with street-jewelers in Costa Rica, learning small metals techniques, before taking a more formal route to education by attending blacksmithing workshops at the John C. Campbell Folkschool in North Carolina.

Benjamin was an Artist-in-Residence at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Tennessee from 2001 to 2003, during which time he focused on utilitarian forged ironwork, including furniture and kitchenware. Benjamin began earnestly making sculptures in 2004 when he entered the Master of Fine Arts in Metals program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Making work which viewers can touch and use remained central to Benjamin’s work, and throughout his graduate studies Benjamin focused on interactive mechanical devices that addressed human experience. After receiving his M.F.A., Benjamin relocated to Oakland, California, where he continues to explore the depths of mechanical sculpture. His current fascinations include pseudo-random and 3-dimensional movements, as well as 3-D printing in metal.