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STRAIGHT TALK with Susan Knight Susan Knight lives and works in Omaha, Nebraska. Knight creates work which plays with the boundary between 2D and 3D, inspired by the physical behavior of water, and various ecological issues in the U.S. Q: In much of your work, your pieces are informed by naturally occurring shapes and patterns in nature, especially water. Can you describe why you were initially drawn to water as a subject matter, and continue to be? A: Prior to 2002 I was a realist, figurative oil painter. That year I wanted to participate in a show about rivers, a memorial show for a dear friend. Having just seen Architectural Origami, an elegant show of paper engineering at New York’s Museum of Art and Design I was inspired to cut a map of the river that divided the town in which I grew up. I thought it was a onetime project. But in the midst of cutting an 80” long paper map of the Grand River a slew of ideas and memories rushed into my brain. For the first time I drew from my personal experiences to express myself and I was free from the restraint of photographic references. The physicality of cutting into paper made me feel like Zorro. It was exhilarating to take away from the surface instead of adding to it. My first two series were narratives about the Great Lakes that included catching a vicious snapping turtle on Spring Lake, the mountains of dead fish from the alewife die off along the shores of Lake Michigan one summer and the predator lamprey eel. The last piece in this first series is set on Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where the river ran yellow one sum- 20 Merge (2013). 40” x 40”. Layered, hand cut Tyvek & acrylic ink. mer from the hemlock tree roots bleeding into it. Color was added to it at a later date. From research to clarify my memories I learned about alien species invasions. I obsessed about two species that are changing the ecosystem of the Great Lakes, Zebra mussels from the Caspian Sea and the Spiny Tail Water Flea. I delighted in repeating the wacky striped zebra mussel patterns and the arc of the flea’s long tail. I discovered my predilection and patience for repetition and the love of the nuance it reveals. I was on a mission to look for more patterns in and about water and water habitats that ultimately morph the narratives into abstract work. As my concepts grew larger I began cutting designs in groups of 40” x 50” components which are manageable for me to manipulate SciArt in America August 2013