Ken Jensen graduated from California State University, Chico, as an art major in ceramics and printmaking. Postgraduate studies emphasized oriental art history. He has been a construction worker, interior decorator, production potter and manager of a picture frame store and art gallery. While taking graduate classes at the university, he taught ceramics and art history at Butte Junior College in Oroville, California and sold pottery products produced from his home studio. He came to Turlock in 1976 to teach at the high school and at Turlock Adult School.
Ken was accepted into a select group of clay artists to work with Randy Broadnax and Biz Littel, both who have pieces in the ceramic collection at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. He has further developed his skills by working recently with Tom and Elaine Coleman and Charley and Linda Riggs. Their expertise is reflected in Ken’s expressive wheel throwing techniques and treatments which exploit clay surfaces, some of which includes use of a heat gun while throwing “dry” on the wheel and applying soluble salts, oxides and certain organic materials to pieces directly after removing them from the red-hot kiln.
Some of Ken’s work is inspired by the American West. Wyoming is his home state. His pieces are simple forms but distinguished by unique colors and textures. The forms often echo those found in nature and in the traditions of Southwest artisans.
His works have won numerous awards in exhibitions with the Turlock City Arts Commission and the Central California Art League of Modesto. He has shown his work in galleries in Utah and Nevada and currently in New Mexico.
“The inherent need to touch and hold draws me to clay as a medium. The objects I make and how I make them are guided by this tactile sense. I work a variety of styles or processes at the same time, combining them together in one piece. Traditional forms are exaggerated or stretched and then enhanced with unexpected textures through the whole process of forming, finishing and firing. I strive to find a balance in the various elements I use to bring a harmonious solution and presence to each piece. Inspiration comes from nature, my experiences, and my studies of other cultures.