As a boy, my experience in nature inspired me to make art, and as I’ve grown, the connection has continued to inform much of my work. From a visual study of nature through drawings and landscape, my work has evolved to more conceptual explorations of what constitutes our understanding of nature and our connection to it and responsibility for it. To sustain the sense of wonder that nature elicited in me, I respond by making things in the studio. My work is multifarious in approach, beginning with an image or an object, and through philosophical inquiry and material investigation building the object through accretion, guided by my curiosity and levity throughout the process.
During the pandemic, I have utilized the iceberg as a subject for my work. Conceptually, icebergs intrigue me on several levels; broken from a larger mass, they are fragments of something much bigger. Individually, their form is only partially revealed by what is seen just above the water line, with the rest of its’ massive volume invisible below. Icebergs are wunderkammern, gigantic floating vitrines that contain centuries of natural history.
The alchemy of material transformation in the making of artworks establishes its own aesthetic experience for both the artist and the viewer. Art works can poetically bridge the banal and the exceptional. The same surprise and astonishment that the artist experienced in its making is embodied in a work for the spectator to experience, with the incorporation of found objects and common materials offering an aesthetic experience that is both familiar and transcendent.
Ken Reker, Professor in the Art + Design Department and Director of the Winfisky Gallery at Salem State University, received his MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in drawing and printmaking from the University of Louisville. His public commission for the Boston Children’s Museum was an assemblage of objects from the museum’s Chinese collection into a large window installation that represented a three-dimensional Chinese landscape painting. In 2016, DOUBLE TROUBLE was commissioned by the Fort Point Arts Community in Boston. The sculpture examines our titanic love affair with plastic and petroleum-based products. Reker’s public sculpture installations include Sculpture Key West, FL; FLOATILLO Festival, Chicago, IL; WATERWORKS Savannah, GA; Gloucester New Arts Festival, MA; TWIST & SHOUT, Cambridge River Arts Festival, MA; ART in the PARK, MA; OUTDOOR SCULPTURE at Maudslay State Park, MA; and FLYING HORSE Outdoor Sculpture at Pingree School, MA. He is currently exhibiting work in BODIES, BORDERS, BRIDGES at Merrimack College, in a group exhibition that presents art as a bridge to explore contemporary crises related to identities, criminalized migration, refugees and border crossing.