Kelly Knight is a visual artist whose work explores themes of the feminine in harmony or disharmony with nature, feminine identity and actualization, and the interconnected and symbiotic relationships between human and nonhuman organisms. She earned her MFA in 3D Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and her BA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Kelly lives in Providence, RI with her partner and many four legged, feathered and finned creatures.

Kelly Knight: Silent Hive

For years I’ve had two recurring nightmares. They’ve recently returned, no doubt due to the collective trauma and loss of the past year. In one I am in a house, wandering through rooms and hallways until I encounter the ghost of a girl who is visible to me only from the knees down. Though she never does anything to physically harm me, her presence is so ominous and frightening that it often forces me awake. The second dream has a similar undercurrent. I am suddenly living in a new apartment or house with an invisible, hostile, overwhelming presence that lives in some particular room. The ways in which I react to these fearsome entities has changed over the years, as I’ve gotten older and developed tools for managing underlying traumas or demons. Some part of me is attracted to the fear, so that I both loathe and welcome the familiar, monstrous dread of these dreams.

Years ago when I first read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski I understood, on an intuitive level, the way the author used text to construct space on each page, and the plot line that expanded physical and metaphorical space indefinitely through darkness, with the protagonist moving as though pulled by a magnet towards an invisible monster. It was a plotline and setting like that in my dreams.

In early January 2021 I watched a livestream of Patti Smith reading her poem The Cup, dedicated to Greta Thunberg, as a public art installation in Piccadilly Circus in collaboration with Circa. I sensed a thematic thread connecting the oblique danger of my dreams, the existential dread in Danielwski’s writing, and the apocalyptic prophecy of Smith’s poem: that of a greater global nightmare of humans as a self-destructive species. The commonality through it all is that the seed of the ominous invisible is in each of us, and is born through us. Its manifestation threatens desolation and destruction in all ways, large and small. This is the sort of doom that is fertilized by neglect of spirit, neglect of nature, neglect of humanity. The message of The Cup is that we’re still here to heed the warning.

One lesson that I’ve had the opportunity to meditate on during this year of relentless global turmoil is the value of grief. The way that loss can clear our vision when we stop fearing the terribleness of our pain, the way it can intensify the value of living. Perhaps it pushes us to redemption.   

Image List:
1. From Anywhere They Appear
. 2020. Paper, box lid, plant roots, gouache, gold paint. 8” x 5.5” x 4”.
2. Shiver, 2021. Paper, box lid, gouache. 4.25” x 8.5” x 1”
3. The Luring, 2020. Paper, box lid, gouache, gold paint. 6” x5” x 1”
4. Sick Core, 2020. Box lids, paper, twigs, geranium ink, gouache.
5. Absolution, 2020. Box lid, paper, gouache, geranium ink. 6” x 4” x .5”
6. Luminosity of Fear, 2020. Box lid, wire, eggshell, paper, gouache, gold paint. 5.25” x 4” x 2”
7. Grief the Gift, 2020. Box lid, paper, gouache, gold paint. 8.5” x 9” x 1.25”
8. Fallow, 2021. Box lid, paper, plant roots, gouache, gold paint. 7.5” x 7” x 2”
9. Birth, 2020. Wax, wire, stone, plant root, wooden drawer. 12” x 6” x 1.5”
10. Faint Line, 2021. Wax, paper, pins, cardboard box. 4” x 11.25” x 1.75”
11. Devotion, 2021. Plaster, wax, paper, rose cane, plant roots, wire 26.5” x 13.5” x 5”
12. Devotion, detail.
13. Seed Dream, 2021. Paper, gouache, gold paint. 13.5” x 26.5”
14. Deep Rooted. Paper, gouache, graphite, charcoal ink. 15” x 30”
15. Gift of, 2020. Plaster, paper, plant roots, wax, wire, black walnut ink, quail eggs, gold paint, ribbon, pins. 24” x 14.5 x 5”
16. Gift of, detail.
17. Gift of, detail.
18. Misinterpreted, 2020. Paper, gouache, ink, gold paint. 25.5” x 18” x 1”
19. Other Sense, 2021. Plaster, roots, wire, lace cuff. 10” x 7” x 1.5”
20. Mother/Node. Cotton, linen, plaster, paper, wasp nest, wire. 13.5” x 26” x 4”
21. Other Nets, 2020. Linen, paper, gouache, wire, rose cane, quail eggs, wax. 16” x 11” x 3”
22. Other Nets, detail.