Barbara Knight (born 1941, Great Britain) moved to the United States as a child and grew up in East Coast suburbs. She received a B.A. in English literature from Purdue University and studied at the Art Students’ League and the School of Visual Arts, NY which enhanced her knowledge of the commercial supermarket box graphics she loved with those of the Dadaists, Futurists and Constructivists. She gravitated to the work of Duchamp, Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, but states she is basically self-taught. She taught graphic design at Parsons School of Design and executed promotional graphic design for artists and galleries.
Knight moved to Soho at the end of 1970 and began collecting ephemera and fabric remnants discarded by the local garment businesses. After publishing a seminal article on the history of American pictorial trademarks such as Arm & Hammer and Sun-Maid Raisins, she made sculpture from their assembled boxes, paint, glue, wood, fabric and corrugated cardboard elements and showed them at Soho’s 55 Mercer Gallery, thus evolving from graphic design to the practice of making art. In the late 1970s Knight constructed some large-scale site-specific painted wood outdoor installations, then moved onto collage on paper or cardboard, which has continued to the present.
In 1981, she began a practice of yoga and meditation which has a huge influence on her life and work. A shift occurred in her work during annual summer trips to Greece starting in 2002 and longer stays in Crete from 2011-on. Its radiant light and spare environment helped her see differently. Wherever she is, she documents evidence of change or transition, collecting papers and detritus and making photographs, them into work.
Her involvement with landscape, geological formations, the cityscape, the dynamic between process, chance and structure and her practice of transforming ephemera and found materials into abstract art continue to the present time. Boxes, wrappings and cardboard packaging materials have appeared in her collage, assemblage. and mixed media works and sculpture throughout her career.
She has exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete, Dromonero and MatchMore Gallery, Crete; VanDeb Editions, L.I.C. NY; Mykonos Biennale, Greece; Project gallery, Athens; MAT/tam 40, Manto Arte Temporanea/Temporary Art Manto, Mantova, Italy; Andrew Edlin and Hal Bromm Galleries in New York; Sideshow and A.I.R. Galleries in Brooklyn and a juried show at Moon Gallery, Berry College, Georgia, as well as in Athens and Berlin. Her work is in private and university collections in the United States and Europe. She and her husband maintain studios in New York and Chania, Crete.