April 18, 2010

iScribe Interview Series - Attempting the Improbable

Name: Nick McKnight
Major: Fine Arts
Year of Graduation: 2011
Position: Featured writer (Fall 2009); cover artist (Fall 2009)

It been said (too many times) that "You can't judge a book by it's cover", but this might not be the case of the Fall 2009 edition of The Independent Scribe. Though I'm no art buff, I feel that your painting "Bridge (extended)" conveys the variety and vibrant nature of the writers and artists in the issue, yourself included. Do you have anything to say about this painting that you would like others to hear?

The painting hangs right next to my bed at home and I see it every day. I love it. I mean, I love all of my work, but I feel that its vibrant tone was intended, especially since I made it in the gloomy days of winter. Hopefully it will find a beautiful home someday.

You also contributed the poem "1 Day, 2 Gowns & 3 Reasons", a unique and poignant look at a marriage ceremony through the bride's perspective (please correct me if I'm wrong!). Was this piece inspired by a particular marriage you've attended, the general idea of it, or something else entirely?

It’s actually a funny story: I attended school in Baltimore and while I was there, I was in one of the buildings waiting for a friend and the architect who designed the building was getting married in the building. I just started writing and I thought of that marriage as well as other couples in Baltimore, many of whom are homosexual or transgendered. Although I’m not, I thought it’d be a nice exercise to write about the scrutiny and verbal abuse and all of the bullshit (can I say that?) they go through while just trying to be happy.

Looking through your blog, I've seen that you've been very active as an artist. Can you give an estimate of how many pieces you have created so far in your career?

Ooof. All together? Finished pieces? It’s difficult to tell. If I had to say, maybe a little less than 200.

Can you pick a favorite, or most important piece out of this catalog?

I’m not sure, I don’t have the book on hand.

From some periphery browsing, it is apparent that there is great variety in your work: your self-portrait as your icon, still-lifes, abstracts, collages - you even find time to write poetry! Is there any sort of art form that you feel you could not attempt, or that is the most difficult for you?

Now there’s a question! Bring it on! I try not to stay in a comfort zone while working. I even have a body of work that I’m making now with sculptures (wax, resin, molds and junk). I think attempting the impossible or “improbable” is what artists should strive for, poets and writers especially. There’s not much difference between poetry and visual art either. With both, I’ve submitted poetry and art to contests and failed or didn’t get accepted more than you’ve said the word “hello,” but I still do it again and again.

We at The Independent Scribe don't get to talk about visual art nearly as much as writing, so do you have any artists who influence your work?

We would truly be here for hours. But here’s a few artists and poets:

  • Cy Twombly
  • Jenny Saville
  • Lisa Hamilton
  • Eric Fischl
  • Grace Hartigan

Writers/Performance Poets:

  • Kerouac
  • Buddy Wakefield
  • Anis Mojgani
  • Andrea Gibson\
  • Anne Sexton

Overall, how has your experience with The Independent Scribe been?

Well, I’ve only been at URI since the fall because I transferred from Baltimore back to RI, but The Scribe last semester was pretty great! It was well put together, the team did a fantastic job and there’s a great deal of talent and hard work in those books, writers and artists. I’m honored to be a part of The Independent Scribe and I respect the hard work and enthusiasm all of you have to do this every semester! See you in the fall!

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