Robert Knight will earn his MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in May 2006 (his thesis show at MassArt's Bakalar Gallery runs through May 6, 2006). Knight's diverse background also includes a BA in Economics and Architecture from Yale University. His work has been shown at the Essex Art Center (Essex, MA), Cambridge Art Association (Cambridge, MA), Sherman Gallery at Boston University (Boston, MA) and is included in the Boston Drawing Project in the Bernard Toale Gallery (Boston, MA).

Featured online are selections from two projects: Dwelling: The Domestic as Portrait and The Harry Project . In Dwelling, Knight looks for interiors that act as surrogates for their creators. In his “hunt,” he uses a large format camera to capture how people arrange their belongings, focusing on the forgotten details, unique juxtapositions, and unusual arrangements. Also featured online is The Harry Project , in which Knight documents the first years of being a new parent by turning the camera on his wife and his son, Harry. In both series, there is an attention to light and minutia as a means to understand people's relationship to their created spaces and roles.

- Leslie K. Brown, PRC Curator

Click here for Knight's web site
Click here to learn more about the 2006 MassArt MFA Thesis shows


Lissa Rivera
April 2006

John Hirsch
March 2006

John Hirsch
March 2006

CJ Heyliger
February 2006

Sarah Sorg
January 2006

Jaclyn Salvaggio
December 2005

Chandra Meesig
November 2005

Dutch Huff
October 2005

Shirin Adhami

September 2005

Anne McMahon
August 2005

Ri Anderson
July 2005

Jonathon Wells

June 2005

Lior Neiger
May 2005

Rania Matar
April 2005

Liz Daly
March 2005

Steve Deane
February 2005

Andrew Warren
January 2005

Jane Hesser
December 2004

Jessica Burko
November 2004

Amy Montali

October 2004

Luke Snyder

September 2004

Matthew Gamber
August 2004

Mariliana Arvelo
July 2004

Ken Richardson
June 2004

Julie Melton
May 2004

Marlo Marrero
April 2004

Erik Gould
March 2004

Mori Insinger
February 2004

Jen Kodis

January 2004

Amber Davis
December 2003

Paul Taggart

November 2003

Marla Sweeney
October 2003

Dylan Vitone
September 2003

Click here for more information
about the Northeast Exposure.



"Dwelling: The Domestic as Portrait" and "The Harry Project"

My recent work has focused on the calculated choices people make in the objects they own. What do they care about? How do they allocate their resources? Their domestic decisions are both moral and aesthetic: what does one choose to own and how do they choose to display it? My photographs do not so much attempt to compare classes, or scrutinize one class, as simply attempt to represent identity through the lens of people's personal spaces. I ask the viewer to consider objects I have seen and selected, in the context of an unseen subject's material interests. Whether at one time purchased, received as a gift or inherited, things “shape the identities of their users. Man is … a reflection of things with which he interacts” (from Csikszentmihalyi's The Meaning of Things).

My passion for photographing the material interests of others is largely driven by the childhood experience of being psychologically stretched between the prodigal extravagance of my mother and the Puritan frugality of my father. In the Poetics of Space , Gaston Bachelard describes a viewer who is “‘reading a room' … and starts to think of some place in his own past”. Similarly, I see my explorations of other's dwellings as subjective interpretations. I photograph the things that hold signification for me, that resonate with my background, education and upbringing. The word “dwelling” denotes both a tangible physical structure, a home, as well as an internal process of lingering reflection. Thus, my photographs can be seen as both of others' dwellings and a dwelling on my own memories and past.

Beneath the surface, my work reflects a lack of faith in photography's ability to objectively portray an other. Roland Barthes, in Camera Lucida , suggests that photography has lost (or never had) the ability to convey authentic meaning. The inherent subjectivity of the artist leaves all interpretation, and thus content, in the hands of the photographer and the viewer. Inevitably, this “failure” of photography applies to my surrogate portraits as well, rendering the absence of an unseen subject not a truer portrait of an other, but perhaps merely a truer portrait of myself.

Prior to this project, I spent two years documenting the experience of becoming a parent and trying to capture the related emotional and physical challenges in still photographs. Titled The Harry Project (and named after my son Harry), I see this work as primarily documentary, while occasionally containing elements which are preconceived or staged. Ultimately, I hope this work, which is ongoing, will function as a self-critical examination of my own life and the world my son is growing up in. In this sense, the work serves as an autobiographical inquiry, with the pictures of my son and wife functioning as a surrogate portrait of myself.

- Robert Knight , 2006


Click on each image for larger version and caption.

Dwelling: The Domestic as Portrait

The Harry Project