Ken Reker and his studio
Ken Reker and his studio

Covid 19 and my sabbatical began about the same time; Spring 2020. I had been working in the studio on two very large SOFT ICEBERGS,made from mixed media and vintage cloth from Hawaii. My studio work evolves, for me, over long periods of time in an experimental approach of accretion. My approach to making an object is multifarious and often begins with an image or an object. Through philosophical inquiry and material investigation, the object is developed, guided by my curiosity and levity throughout the process.

As I moved from the studio to home during quarantine, many aspects of my artmaking process changed. I continued exploring the subject of icebergs. 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.

Pocket Icebergs by Ken Reker (three of which are included in Adrift)

I also began working smaller in scale and from a more traditional approach. Working smaller (2.5” X 3.75”) afforded more control and contrasted the monumentality of these icebergs, creating a nice visual tension. I decided to return to an earlier material approach, using watercolor to represent natures’ beauty and power rather than making works that contemplate its’ degradation. Watercolor is a medium that is familiar and comfortable to me; it felt good making them! Over many years as an artist, educator and curator, I understand the power of artmaking as an activity that is unique in keeping one present-minded. The activity provided solace as well as focus during the pandemic.

Ships in the Night by Ken Reker

To view more of my work please visit kenreker.com.

Ken Reker is one of 36 artists from 10 states who’s work is included in Adrift, a national juried exhibition which is on view at Main Street Arts through June 11, 2021.

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