Interview with Sculptor Ken Turner

Artist Spotlight

Interview with Sculptor Ken Turner

In 2021 the Happy Valley Sculpture Garden Program unveiled six new sculptures outside of City Hall. On August 17, residents and art enthusiasts joined City Council to tour the new artwork and meet program artists, many of whom were present to share their stories and artistic inspiration.

Want to know more about the artists? We do, too! Read on to learn more about Seattle artist, Ken Turner, and his sculpture, Time Management.

So, Ken, tell me about yourself.

KT: I’m a Seattle based artist who works in sculpture and photography. I received a BFA from St. Cloud State University and an MFA from the University of Washington. I taught at City University and the University of Washington.

What is your earliest memory about art or creating art?

KT: My interest in art began very early working tech in my parent’s theater, Will-O-Way Apprentice Theater, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

 When did you know that you wanted to become a professional artist? 

KT: I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision. I was an artist and that’s what artists do.    

What themes or concepts inspire your artistic style?

 KT: I’ve always been interested in change. Things are always in a state of flux, some we can perceive some not. Investigating the concept of change seems to be a part of everything I make whether the central theme or not.        

How has your artistic style changed over time?

KT: To me, creating art is exploration. Each new piece is a universe in itself. I learn new things and get inspired to explore the next universe. I never really think about style per se. I just think about the best way to make the investigation physical.

Observationally, your artwork seems to frequently use stainless steel to depict the concept of time and how we experience that concept. Is there a reason why you gravitate towards stainless steel?

KT: Stainless steel has become a staple. Besides being strong I like the reflective property. The reflections demonstrate time as they change with the light. The reflections also include parts of the environment and often the viewer as they move.

 One of your sculptures, Time Management, is currently on display at City Hall as part of the 2021-2023 Happy Valley Sculpture Garden program. In this piece, you have depicted an 8-ft grandfather clock out of stainless steel. Perched atop the clock is whirlwind of swirling movement. Can you tell me more about the inspiration behind Time Management?

KT: I wanted to explore the emotional aspect of time. Five minutes having fun seems like five seconds. Five minutes waiting for something can seem like five days but it’s still five minutes. I thought a grandfather clock shape would be a good start (though I wonder if younger viewers see ‘time’ in that shape.) The clock works portrayed as a swirling mass and pendulum shown as several pendulums seem to be in motion and frozen at the same time.

How long did it take to design and fabricate Time Management?

KT: It’s hard to say. I don’t really keep track, maybe two weeks to a month. I work from a very basic sketch that reminds me of the concept I’m exploring and basic physics (how does it stand up). Actually making the piece continues the exploration and goes where it goes.

What message or idea should neighbors take away after interacting with or viewing Time Management?  Is there a certain reaction you hope to receive?

KT: No, I want to stir thought. I hope they have new and different thoughts each time they see it.

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?

KT: Making leads to more making and the desire to make something else that you must then learn how to make.

Do you find benefit in municipal art programs? Why or why not?

KT: Art is a form of communication. Throughout the ages government and commercial entities have used it subtly to display power and trust. The sculpture garden seems more in tune with life. Beautiful, interesting sculptures with wildly different ideas surrounding a government building portray what I believe government is about. Different people coming together to make life better.

The City thanks Mr. Turner for his contribution to the Sculpture Garden. Time Management will be on exhibit at City Hall through June 2023. For questions and purchasing inquiries, please contact Jaimie Lorenzini, 503-783-3828, [email protected].

 To see more art by Ken Turner, visit his webpage at http://kenturner-art.com/

About the Happy Valley Sculpture Garden Program

The Happy Valley Sculpture Garden Program was established in 2013 to enhance public land, enrich the cultural environment and encourage art appreciation within the community. Every two years, artists from around the Pacific Northwest are invited to show their work in several locations just outside of City Hall. While on exhibit, sculptures are on short-term loan to the City, allowing the Garden to feature many pieces over time. Sculptures remain for sale to the public while on exhibition in the Sculpture Garden. For purchasing inquiries, contact [email protected], 503-783-3828.