Karess Knudtson to open show at Nobles County Art Center
WORTHINGTON -- Throughout her life, Karess Knudtson has had two interests -- art and environmental sciences.
For the past couple of years, Knudtson has been merging her two passions to create multi-media art inspired by nature. Starting Sunday, her work will be on display in the Nobles County Art Center through the month of January.
Knudtson, who lives in Milford, Iowa, finds inspiration as she explores acres of restored prairie, woodlands and the Little Sioux River with her camera in hand.
"All my work starts with an original photograph," she said. "I'm out taking photos of flowers, trees, or animals -- something in the natural world. Once I get a photograph, I transform them into more of a mixed media piece, based on the photograph."
Knudtson uses mixed media, digitally and physically manipulating the photo while sometimes adding tactile media to enhance the subject.
"All the media I use helps to bring out the original subject matter," she said. "They all end up working together."
Knudtson began her art studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she also worked in the art department.
"It was a really rewarding place to work as a college student," she said.
Knudtson graduated from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., with a bachelor of science degree in environmental science. She later received a masters of arts in education.
Knudtson uses traditional canvas for some of her work, but she also uses "upcycled canvases." Barn wood, metal remnants and other antique and non-traditional art materials are all fair game in her studio.
"It ties my creating with my environmental past --giving something old a new life," she said.
Knudtson stumbles across these pieces in random places and is always keeping her eyes open.
"If I see something while I'm driving down the road that might work, I'll ask permission to see if I can use it," she said.
She has also received upcycled canvases through word of mouth and from friends who know her work.
A little more than a year ago, Knudtson began exploring encaustic painting, an ancient art form that uses pigmented beeswax and became popular again about 15 years ago.
In encaustic painting, Knudtson found she was able to express more clearly her vision for her art.
"It really brought everything together in a fantastic way," she said.
While there are numerous products on the market for encaustic painting, Knudtson prefers to mix her own colors.
"The feel and working with (the encaustic paint) makes it a really beautiful medium," she said. "It even has the smell of honey. Your senses can smell the warm wax."
Knudtson has had other art shows in the Iowa Lakes area and has participated in multiple groups shows, but this will be the first time her work has been shown in Nobles County.
"It's exciting to get ready for a show and I'm appreciative of the Nobles County Art Center asking me to show in their facility," she said.
The Nobles County Art Center, located in the basement of the Nobles County Library, is open weekdays from 2 to 4 p.m. Admission is free to the public.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.