Katie Knight's innovative, emotionally compelling art takes many forms: photography, printmaking, sculpture and writing. She believes that pairing socially relevant content with beautiful compositions contributes to a dynamic, evolving culture. She creates art in her studio in Helena, Montana, and has been exhibiting her work since 1980.
Katie earned an MFA in 1999 at the University of Minnesota, where she received the prestigious national Jacob Javits Fellowship to support her visual arts practice and the use of art within context of human rights education. Knight majored in interarea visual arts, blending printmaking, photography, and sculpture. She minored in Museum Studies while interning at the Weisman Art Museum. In 1981, she earned an MAEd at Northern Michigan University in Art and Design with emphasis in photography. She got her BA in Art, Art History, an Education at Hiram College in 1976.
While Katie has worked as a photojournalist and freelance photographer, her most satisfying employment has been her work as a teacher. She has taught art to students of all ages in diverse cultural settings. At St. Louis Community College, she developed and directed the professional photography degree program. Currently, she teaches art and photography at Helena High School and Carroll College. While serving for eight years as Curator of Education at the Holter Museum of Art, she developed the intercultural artists-in-residence program, Cultural Crossroads, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, and grew a museum education program that serves thousands of students annually.
Katie began making art at the age of nine while enrolled in a drawing class in her home village of Hiram, Ohio. Coming of age in the era of the Vietnam war and social liberation movements, she studied the roots of war, racism, and oppression as a teen-ager. Ever since, she has been motivated to participate in dialogues and demonstrations for peace and justice.
At the age of 18, enamored with photography, she documented farms in rural Pennsylvania and Ohio. The birth of her son Jikizizwe in 1979 motivated a shift to human subjects; she focused her lens on home births, adding her vision and voice to the movement for more humane birthing practices.
Katie's international human rights photography and political activism began in 1990 in Nicaragua, continued in El Salvador, and led her to Namibia and South Africa. In Colombia from 2001 to 2005, Katie documented social justice leaders in war zones, providing solidarity with and support for endangered activists, and working to change US foreign policy. Using the photographs and testimony gathered on these journeys, she presented slide-talks, curriculum materials for human rights education, and exhibitions of photographs, relief prints, and sculptures.
Alarmed that global capitalism not only escalates degradation of human living conditions, but also imperils the living planet, Knight became involved with the grassroots group, the Alternative Energy Resource Organization (AERO) of Montana. Impressed by the commitment, intelligence, and practices of her AERO colleagues, motivated by the belief that social evolution requires positive models, Katie chose to lend her creative energy to their work to build sustainable communities. Her photographic documentary, Montana Solutions: Envision Earth Healing, focuses on farmers and ranchers devoted to innovation in sustainable agriculture and renewable energy, and has been shown in numerous Montana venues.
A rare opportunity for transformation arose in Montana in 2004. A defecting leader of the "Creativity Movement" - one of the most virulent white supremacist hate groups in the nation - presented the Montana Human Rights Network with 4,100 volumes of their "bibles," books promoting extreme anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, racist ideologies. The directors of the Network invited Knight to use the books to curate an art exhibition that would stimulate dialogue and public engagement with social justice issues.
Katie accepted the challenge and spent three years curating the thought-provoking exhibition she titled Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate. Artists across the nation were invited to create work that responded to, integrated, and transformed the hate books. Knight led a team of community members, artists, and museum staff as they organized integrated educational programs to support the exhibition at the Holter Museum of Art, where Knight was the Curator of Education. The exhibition featuring work by nationally prominent and emerging artists, opened at the museum in Helena, Montana before traveling to eleven more venues across the state. The exhibition is now on its national tour.