Foundry Art Center Launches Two Bold New Exhibits | Art Stories and Interviews | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events
Paint melts down the side of one of Sarah Knight’s sculptures, dripping in a rainbow of color, while other sculptures shimmer with yellow glaze in a cascading cascade. Some of these sculptures rest on a bed of glistening rocks collected from the Knight family’s lakeside cabin. You can look into the windows of another sculpture, to see a galaxy of crystallized rocks and an array of colors. If it seems hard to tell exactly what’s going on in these works of art, that’s the whole point.
Jessica Mannisi says they look like an exploded kaleidoscope. Mannisi is the director of arts and exhibitions at Foundry Art Center (520 N Main Center, St. Charles; 636-255-0270). She has selected Knight’s work for an upcoming exhibition titled, crystal queer.
The artist tells the RFT they felt drawn to creating these types of sculptures as a gender-neutral individual who identifies as trans. Knight’s practice, in his own words, centers on creating “ambiguous, not really recognizable sculptures that are materially compelling and represent a bridge between the natural and the artificial”.
“A lot of my journey has been kind of about not labeling things,” Knight says. “A lot of the experiences I’ve had have been based on the idea of a definite language and definite labels and a definite understanding of how certain things work in society. [I’ve realized] that, literally, this is all made up so that we can more easily categorize people.
Knight describes the work through each sculpture as a sort of black hole, smashing the pieces – nature’s geological gifts, fine ceramics, naturally occurring pigments – together and undermining the idea that something’s value is tied to how we can understand it. This, Knight explains, is their way of pulling on chains of value, hierarchy and identity.
Knight had difficulty preparing for the exhibition. In mid-January, while creating a sculpture, Knight’s studio kiln stopped working, causing the piece inside to explode and snap it in half. Inspired by the incident, they used it to develop three or four larger works.
The Knight Gallery is presented in tandem with Kaleidoscope, the art forma collaboration between the art center and the Brewster Kaleidoscope Foundation, starting April 1. The kaleidoscopes in the exhibition, all handmade, are made from carved wood, stained glass or even recycled bracelets.
In early January, Mannisi asked if Knight would be interested in exhibiting alongside kaleidoscopes. She was drawn to the juxtaposition of not really understanding what you’re looking at – but being amazed by the beauty. The kaleidoscope exhibition aims to challenge the idea of what constitutes art; Mannisi says she doesn’t think many people would consider kaleidoscopes art. Knight’s work complements this.
“Sarah’s work is this aggregate of ceramic and glaze, but also concrete and plaster and literal rocks and things like that,” Mannisi says. “Their work really challenges those emotions of identity and the definition of homosexuality and all that kind of stuff.”
Knight’s sculptures took around 400 hours to create, including numerous trips to Menard’s and hours spent carrying bags of concrete up stairs when the kiln broke down. When this happened, St. Louis artist Catharine Magel allowed Knight to use her studio to complete her exhibit. They also relied heavily on friends and family during the creative process.
“This exhibit is a community effort,” says Knight. “I was encouraged to be really experimental with my materials and to be really experimental with my scale and the way I build the exhibit. Jessica at the foundry is just like, ‘I trust you. You have this space, it’s your vision, and I’m here to support you.
crystal queer and Kaleidoscope, the art form are on display until May 13. Mannisi says there will be certain days when guests can visit the kaleidoscope gallery and look inside, so check FoundryArtCentre.org for updates.
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