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Terry Welker

Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Public Art

Terry Welker, FAIA, is an architect/sculptor living in Kettering, Ohio. He began his formal education in fine art but later moved toward architecture. Completing his graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati in 1987, he continued teaching design at UC and worked for several architectural firms in Dayton. In 1994 he opened his own firm and created the Archetype Gallery exhibiting Ohio artists. In 2000, while launching the Welker Studio, Terry began 22 years of public service as the City Architect/Chief Building Official for the City of Kettering. In 2016 he was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows and received the AIA Ohio Gold Medal in 2023. Terry creates permanent and temporary public art/commissioned works as a sculptor in the Welker Studio; Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture & Interior Design at Miami University, Oxford, OH.

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Terry Welker

I'm an architect/sculptor creating lightweight kinetic and suspended sculpture. This comes from my passion for architecture, poetic space and meaningful places. I work to understand and extend visual languages by animating form, space and surface with motion. My goal is to find shared identification of memorable forms, associations, multiple meanings and the simple enjoyment moving forms in space. My primary inspiration comes from natural forces and forms by drawing on my memory of motions, shapes and colors in order to relate to nature without direct imitation. This allows me to create abstractions without the constraint of literal interpretation. I also see the process of creation as an intentional act of 'making' that comes from experimentation, trial and error, letting form come from the nature of materials, tools and human hands. Size, scale and context are deceptively difficult but serious considerations that guide my decisions for any placemaking installation. I prefer to create or rely on existing natural daylight and ambient room light to enhance forms and let them have a “conversation with the sky.” Kinetic and suspended sculpture brings a unique set of composition challenges. The character of 'lightweightness' reveals the inherent challenge of gravity, delicate balance and air movements. Through trial and error, I push the structural limits of materials as lines, arcs, curves and complex forms. Using predictable and unpredictable forces I find that 'near misses' provide a simple but elegant strength while 'soft collisions' enable more complexity or even chaos. The accidental nature of these movements allows people to move beyond simple viewing and become unconsciously, viscerally engaged in the enjoyable act of "watching" and "staring."

In Studio:
I create works in series beginning with small maquettes and random experiments. This allows me to fully explore an idea and push the limits of materials with numerous variations. Many of my larger works evolve from series as commissioned pieces with a particular size and scale created for a specific place and setting. My most commonly used materials are stainless steel rods and custom colored anodized aluminum or coated aluminum because of its anti-corrosive and vivid color retention qualities. I also like experimenting with new alloys, coatings, unusual materials, old materials, and found objects, sometimes combining them to find new forms. The nature of these materials often requires 'cold connection' techniques such a riveting or bolting in lieu of heat welding. Some sculptures also incorporate high quality glass crystals (Swarovski) or cast acrylic prisms.
As a Professor of Architecture, it is common for me to begin with research and listening; sharing ideas about my work, and/or engage students and the public during the creation of new works, in order to gain a fuller understanding of local cultural values. My objective is to enhance the meaningfulness of new works through shared experiences and learning.

Example project story in detail - Fractal Rain:

Fractal Rain

118 ft. x 36 ft. x 14 ft.

Stainless steel wire, 3768 prisms

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