Karen Knight’s artistic journey began over fifty years ago, during childhood summer holidays on the shores of Washademoak Lake, in New Brunswick, Canada. Using clay dug from a nearby pond, Karen fashioned works of art in her ‘studio in the great outdoors,' then baked them in the family campfire – to the sounds of laughter and music, and the smell of roasting marshmallows. In 1989, Karen's creative passions were rekindled, prompting her to pursue studies in sculpture and design at the Dundas Valley School of Art, with clay as her primary artistic medium. After completing her studies, Karen took an eight year hiatus when the ‘Knights Two’ proudly expanded to the ‘Knights Four’. In 1997, Karen went on to transform a struggling pottery program in Guelph, Ontario, into a dynamic creative force – while also continuing to pursue her own fine art and craft.
In 2003, Karen returned to her New Brunswick roots, where she established Soul Impression Handbuilt Clayworks, located at 1509 Rothesay Road in Saint John. Her business is committed to creating one-of-a-kind works of art, including free form art bowls, plates and platters with a dragonfly motif, salsa dishes, lowtide artpieces, and powerful renderings of the human form.
As an educator, Karen teaches “Handbuilding with Clay” at the Saint John Arts Centre and has recently completed a teaching module with the “Art4Life” Seniors Project studying the impact of creativity on healthy aging. Over the last seven years she has also participated in both the Artist-in-Residency and ArtsSmarts programs offered through the Department of Education in New Brunswick.
Karen is a longstanding juried member of Craft NB and has participated in nine exhibitions in this province. Being community minded, Karen also donates to many charitable organizations.
A treasured note from my Mother to my Father contains this five-word description of me as a child, “I can do it myself!” From an early age, I was building and creating things “myself,” spurred on by the desire to understand how things work.I nnovation and creativity are simply part of my DNA. Clay was one of many mediums I’d dabbled with as a child, but it wasn’t until 20 years later that I fell in love with it and was compelled to make handbuilding in clay my life calling.
My clay work is very much an impression of my moral, and aesthetic values - my soul. My technical and artistic approach to clay work is inspired, in part, by the handbuilt work of ancient African and Middle Eastern civilizations, the rich handbuilding tradition within indigenous communities in the United States, and the contemporary and progressive clay art movement in Australia and North America. These wide-ranging influences have been instrumental in enabling me to create a dynamic style that employs traditional hand building techniques - pinch, coil, and slab - while elaborating on these in new and striking ways. I am equally influenced by the natural world and that often finds expression in the contours and design of my sculptural work. Inspired by “being” in a natural space – observing patterns and form, color and texture, light and shadow, I take what I experience and blend these with my own artistic sensibilities to create art. The creative possibilities of working in clay are infinite and it is precisely the versatility of clay as an artistic medium that is my source of real joy in working with it. World renown potter, Paulus Berensohn, captures this sense of joyful call, when he states that working in clay “is not a way of making a living, it’s a way of making a life.”
Karen Knight, 2021