Richard Knight, Flower Box, 2022. Mixed media, variable sizes.
Richard Knight: Walking with Purpose
Lauren Semivan: A Map Both Distant and Concrete
June 3 to July 30, 2022
Reception: Saturday, June 4, 3 to 6 p.m.
Hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
Portrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art is thrilled to present a new major exhibition of work by Milwaukee-based artist Richard Knight along with a solo presentation of new work by Lauren Semivan in the Adjacent Gallery.
Richard Knight works in an interdisciplinary manner, crossing boundaries between painting, sculpture, and drawing. Often influenced by nature and found objects, Knight assembles hanging installations of items he finds on walks. These objects may then lead to shapes and images in his paintings, or generate interest in solitary works that he transforms by adding skins of color and texture. The staging of wire, wooden forms, seed pods, or scraps of leather honors each material as both quotidian and precious, disposable and unique.
Walking with Purpose commands the entire gallery and is Knight’s first exhibition in six years. It includes work from the past five years as well as recent ink drawings inspired by his back yard. In the manner of other great bricoleurs such as Richard Tuttle, Cecelia Vicuna, and Louise Nevelson, Knight has long pondered the properties of found objects through a relational process that alters the pieces but allows them to maintain their authority.
Knight says, “Sometimes I come across discarded material and it’ll remind me of a line of drawing, part of a painting or even something I’ve read. I’ll either keep it as it is or make a variation of it using another material. It’s a rewarding way for me to feel my surroundings while keeping my vision keen.”
Richard Knight holds an MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a BFA from Missouri State University, Springfield. He has had solo exhibitions at Dean Jensen Gallery, Michael Lord Gallery, Lawrence University, Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, and James Watrous Gallery.
Lauren Semivan, Untitled (November 4, 2021). Archival pigment print, 42 x 52 inches.
Photographer Lauren Semivan’s work has affinities with Richard Knight’s in that she utilizes found objects and fabric, building compositions on her studio wall and then photographs them. The resulting images are expansively poetic and timeless, stretching between the representational and abstract and masking any orientation to the confines of the staging. This new body of work, A Map both Distant and Concrete, presents large-scale color prints. The title of the exhibition comes a Nobel lecture by 20th century poet Czeslaw Milosz who describes the poet as having a double vision, “a map both distant and concrete.” Semivan says her work “represents a synchronism of the eternal and the everyday.”
“There exists a converging of two scales,” Semivan writes, “of forces counter to the visible. These images are the result of an investigation into the invisible: an identification and interrogation of potential signals. I consider photography to be both a tool for escape, and an instrument for self-knowledge: a door into the dark.”
Lauren Semivan (b. 1981) was born in Detroit, Michigan. She received a BA in studio art from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her work has been exhibited at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, Blue Sky Gallery, Silver Eye Center for Photography, Paris Photo, The Griffin Museum of Photography, The Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the Hunterdon Art Museum among others.
Semivan’s work was recently published in With Eyes Opened: Cranbrook Academy of Art Since 1932 (Cranbrook Art Museum, 2021), Essay’d III: 30 Detroit Artists (Wayne State University Press, 2019), Harper’s magazine, and Series of Dreams (Skeleton Key Press, 2018). Reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, Interview Magazine, The Village Voice, and Photograph magazine. Semivan’s work is part of permanent collections at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, The Wriston Art Galleries at Lawrence University, and The Elton John Photography Collection. She is represented by Benrubi Gallery in New York, David Klein Gallery in Detroit, Michigan, and The Portrait Society Gallery for Contemporary Art in Milwaukee, WI. Lauren lives and works in Northeast Wisconsin. ###