Ken Byers - The Artist’s Statement
For the past 30 years Ken Byers has been designing and manufacturing furniture across a wide spectrum of styles, purposes and markets. As a graduate Industrial Designer, Dr. Byers has a unique perspective on the relationship between a given product and the use and user for which it is intended.
Some forty years ago, while living in New Hampshire, he recognized the Shaker ideals of simplicity, integrity and honesty were also key elements in the design of goods, particularly furniture. It was evident that the Shakers were dedicated to the idea that their beliefs needed to be represented in everything they did and reflect the dedication and idealism of perfection in all worldly things, most notably the things they made with their hands. Good work became the embodiment of the Shaker spiritual partnership with God. This combination of appreciation for Shaker purism and a contemporary concern for the functional appropriateness between product and user became the basis of his continuing love affair with furniture and all his art, most particularly the reproduction of Shaker furniture.
Ken also began making models when he was six years old. As a youth he
made scratch-built airplanes which he then set afire and sailed off the
roof of his garage in Bridgeport, Connecticut. At fifteen he won a college
scholarship by designing and building a model car for the General Motors
Fisher Body Craftsman Guild. He has since made models of just about
everything one might imagine. This led naturally to an interest in the
miniature representational world as an art form. His interest in people
and what motivates us to buy, use and relate to each other prompted a late
in life return to school to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and publish two
books on the experience of being a male in contemporary America and serve
finally as an adjunct professor of design at San Francisco State University..
“I can think of no more perfect way to touch, explore and empathize with the reality of a culture, or any aspect of a culture, than to become immersed in that culture through miniature recreations of their art. For me, the experience of following the creative efforts of a master craftsman being guided by his spiritual reality, and recreating his work is in itself a most remarkable spiritual experience. Each time I make a piece of miniature art I renew my sense of wonder and appreciation for the beauty inherent in the simplistic. The idea of a miniature allows us to reach backward to our roots in a society that has become essentially rootless, temporary and changing at a pace too fast to allow us a place to stop and rest spiritually, if only for a moment.”