Artist Profile: Katelynn Noel Knick / by Helen Grant

Writer: Helen Grant

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Katelynn Noel Knick will show new work on February 9th from 8-11 p.m. during Norman's 2nd Friday Art Walk.


A selection of works that playfully re-evaluate abstract painting through scale and space. Knick’s work is investigating the questions “What if you could step inside of an abstract painting?” and if so, “what would it be like?” 


Q. I read that your childhood home was always in a state of flux, that your dad rearranged the home to better suit your family as dynamics changed, and that this sort of adaptability inspires you to alter your own home and other spaces you inhabit. How does this relationship with adaptability and change challenge you to create new work? Is it sometimes overwhelming to wipe the slate clean and rearrange, rethink what you’ve been doing? If so, do you have a process for overcoming the inertia that comes from being faced with so many choices and directions you could go with?

A. Overall, what those experiences really taught me was to embrace change and feel empowered to keep evolving. I’m a big dreamer but also a detailed planner. I use my sketchbook to document all the ideas and directions that my work could take, through lists, small thumbnails, image clippings, artist references, material studies, etc. That helps me funnel the energy and inspiration in to one place where I can always go when I want to start something new.

Q. I was taken with your artist notebook when touring through the “You’re in My Bubble: A House Art Exhibition”. In it I remember reading an entry about another artist’s use of “ugly” colors and how they espoused their merit in color choices. Can you elaborate more on that idea and how it influences your own color palette? 

A. I tend to use mostly bright, fun colors. And I like to use a lot of them at once. But I’m always trying to push my painting practice by creating new challenges for myself like learning to enjoy muddy or neutral colors as well. You know that saying “happy wouldn’t be so great if we didn’t experience the sad as well,” it’s like that but with colors. The “ugly” ones make the brighter ones that much brighter. Ashely Piefer is the artist I was referencing in my sketchbook.

Q. I am drawn to your work because it feels and looks a lot more open than most abstract expressionist work I’ve seen lately. Instead of layering up every square inch of canvas there are wide open spaces between the layers of dots, lines, and shapes. As a feeling, or as a representation, what does negative space mean to you? What is your working relationship with negative space? Has it changed over the years for you? How does it translate into your installations? 

A. My relationship with negative space has changed over the years. When I first started painting I wanted to cover the entire surface with color, starting with a background wash and then building layers on top of that. But after a few installations, I realized that the distance between the work was just as important, and when activated you can create a more dynamic space and feeling.  

Q. In your artist notebook there are a lot of inspirational ideas, not just art pieces but philosophical/existential quotes from others, and sketches for installations. Do most installations go as planned? Or are you sometimes surprised with the final result?

A. I love the planning process. Both my dad and grandfather were draftsmen so for me, starting with a pencil and paper and drawing a blueprint style sketch seems to be a natural start. Once I’m in the space working though, I would say the outcome is usually 50% planned and 50% intuitive. One thing I would like to move towards is exhibiting the sketches and plans alongside the finished project.

Q. What inspired you to create this new body of work that will be installed at Resonator for the February 9th 2nd Friday Art Walk?

A. Recently I’ve been inspired to go big with my work. I’ve been creating large paintings that are around 4’ – 5’ each. With this new scale, it allows the viewer to be encompassed by the work and the structure of the work becomes almost like a window or door to another world, creating a new realm.

I have also been doing some smaller studies lately, combining sculptural elements to the surface of the panels to create reliefs. I was inspired to try this technique after a “Not Flat” workshop I attended at Anderson Ranch.

I’m also including a very recent inflatable sculpture, this work is interactive and invites the viewer to step (or crawl, rather) inside of the work. This work was one that I had kept in my sketchbook for a few years but hadn’t created yet. I’m excited for this to be a jumping off point for new painting/sculptural work.

Step into another realm.

Step into another realm.

Q. For people who look at abstract expressionism and feel a little lost or intimidated: what is something you would share with them to help them have a better understanding for this art form? 

A. I like to think of it as a form of language. Rather than speaking or using recognizable imagery, think of the colors and marks as a statement or feeling.

Q. What was the last book you read, art related or not, that really stuck with you?

I’ve been reading the revised edition of Art/Work by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber. That book is what inspired me to have a studio visit recently, where I hosted 10 of my peers and got feedback on my recent work. Following the studio visit, I then invited the public to see my work during my house show. I highly recommended it as a professional reference for artists.

Q. What are you listening to these days? 

A. I’m currently listening to a lot of girl punk bands, such as Bleached, Cherry Glazerr, Frankie Cosmos, and Shannon and the Clams. The loose, intuitive, and honest energies of these artists feel the most comfortable to me and encourages my practice. I also listen to a lot of podcasts while in the studio, like 2 Dope Queens for comedy, Starving Artist and Bad at Sports for art talk, and then Let’s Not Meet for the occasional scary story.

Q. What art exhibitions or opportunities are you looking forward to this year? 

A. I’ll be showing at the Hardesty Arts Center in Tulsa, OK from August – September. I’m hoping to take the inflatable sculpture concept and expand on that. It’s still in the planning stages but it will be one of my biggest, most elaborate projects yet and I’m looking forward to going big.


Katelynn Noel Knick is an Oklahoma native, creating paintings, sculptures, and installations. She is interested in exploring personal narrative, color, and spatial relations.