Artist Susan Knight brings to Midwesterners an ocean of sensuality and insight with “Glimpses” at RNG Gallery thru July 8, the second time she has shown with the gallery, the first in the new Council Bluffs location.
Knight transforms RNG via paper into an environment of beachy ease—flowing paper; twisting waves, cool colors and moving shadow shapes formed by the sun.
The display of her intricately hand-cut water forms in light blue and red hues emit a charming, laid-back summer vibe and passion for the subject going back to her youth.
“As a child I was attentive to the rivers, lakes, and creeks that surrounded me. I was taught to read water’s seasonal cycles and evaluate them for various purposes such as learning where the fish might bite,” the Michigan-bred artist wrote in her statement. “I was also taught to never be wasteful and to conserve water. Essentially water made me conscious of my surroundings, of what flourished and what died. This always stayed with me.”
Her sincerity, too, is evidenced in her intense craft ability. Hundreds of tiny-sliced lines of paper appear to be drawn strokes in “Waves 1-5.” Blue, red and silver ink and Mylar dots on the tyvek paper make it cool, and the sculpted form of waves roll off the walls that are also situated to off-shoot from each other.
“Archetypal Movement” sprawls across the large wall. Eighteen Mylar pieces with hand-cut shapes in the middle are reminiscent of a turtle or sea-shell, all painted with wavy-strokes of blue acrylic. They flow around as the air-conditioning blows and people pass by, another lighthearted effect.
Also peaceful are “Water Play” and “Water Impulse,” both cut white paper, which use more literal imagery calling to the real water situations. A fishing boat, a dam, and big windy shapes form a map of a lake in “Water Play.” A figure basking in a plainly blowing sun in a waterfall leads to a river in “Water Impulse.”
In “Water Glimpse 1-3,” Knight uses light in Plexiglas to display her hand cut parchment and Mylar. Paradoxically, the light actually brings attention to the dark—negative space forming seemingly nighttime shapes like branches, shadows, maybe even gravestones.
This the result of the artist’s using material in new ways as she is known for. It also reminds us of her intent to reveal more serious environmental issues.
“My focus is on ecological water issues ranging from the devastating breakdown of the ecosystem in the Great Lakes, to worldwide nitrate contamination in groundwater. I loosely reference issues such as the Spiny Tail Water Flea, a microscopic alien species that causes deteriorating food webs.”
The food webs are indicated in the “Wave” series and in “Vortices Swirl,” the large hand-cut layered paper with acrylic ink and Mylar dots that greets visitors upon entering the gallery.
Although ecological issues are probably the result of deeper reflection into her work, the obvious and initial response to Glimpses is more so one of serenity and repose, much like a visit to the actual water spaces that she is passionate about. Like lying on the beach, in Glimpses, you contemplate the world outside of yours—which is, perhaps her bigger intent.
For the opening of Glimpses, Knight hosted a dance choreographed by Josie Metal-Corbin inspired by the art including a solo cellist.
Rob Gilmer, owner/curator of RNG Gallery, said, “The performance was beautiful and fluid and complemented the work which flowed as she danced by it…Susan’s work is perfect for this space. She does wonders with negative space and using materials in new means and really transformed the gallery.”
Glimpses is on view at RNG Gallery, 157 West Broadway in Council Bluffs, thru July 8. Visit dixiequicks.com for more information.