By Susan Knight
AS IF resident
In March 2018 it was my honor to take a mini residency at Art + Science in the Field: AS IF Center which is nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. I had met Nancy Lowe, the Center’s founder and director, at an art and science conference organized by SciArt Center and The Helix Center in New York last December. She offered me her card and began to describe the new AS IF residency program. As a visual artist my hand cut paper work is informed by scientific investigations of water and the land around it. I knew that the location of AS IF made it the perfect place to incubate my developing project that incorporates aspects of geology, hydrology, and sociology with art.
Uncanny Questions is the working title for my proposed site-specific installation which asks the following questions. Do structures and patterns in land and water hold clues for our own behavior? Over time systems of water and structures of mineral deposits above and below the land uniquely reveal nature’s opposing forces and cycles that over millenniums work to support continual growth and creation. Can our society learn from this dynamic? Can seemingly opposing forces in American culture work together to create agreeable, respectful living to build a cooperative whole for all citizens? Opposing forces in nature ultimately produce mutual cooperation. Can our society emulate nature’s coherent organization?
My goal at AS IF was to experience the unknowns of place and product. I wanted to get to know the land, like I know water. This was an opportunity to experience this mineral rich land in a tactile way. Each day in varying temperatures and different light I walked up Beech Creek in back of my room in Firefly Lodge to smell and touch mica and quartz and a slew of other minerals I was unable to identify. I observed them in relation to the peeking Trout Lily on the mountain path and budding moss on downed trees. Down the road Nancy led me to a deposit of olivine.
I also knew that my project will require hand cutting that I have yet to imagine. Inside my light-filled studio at Yellow House I forced myself to work without regard to outcome in an attempt to discover a new direction. As I hand cut paper and Tyvek a sensory memory of my excursions into the land expanded my creative decisions.
I am sincerely grateful to Nancy and the neighboring residents of High Cove who enriched my short stay with their warm hospitality and their willingness to share their stories and expertise.
While Uncanny Questions is yet to be realized, you can view images of recent installations that similarly transform scientific concepts into art at www.susanknightart.com. You can see images of my mountain walks as well as a new hand cut Tyvek on paper piece, Olivine Vortex, made with applied mica.