Dawn Felicia Knox’s artwork is a distillation of found and constructed narratives bound together with ephemera, found objects, photographs and sculpture. These result in art objects and environments. Her work is research-driven yet steeped in wonder and curiosity.
American by birth, she forged an artistic presence in her native New Mexico through creating and exhibiting works in galleries and, more intriguingly to her, in non-traditional environments. She was driven to create encounters with her art that were unexpected and engaging.
She is now at home in North East England. For the last several years, her work has been concerned with the reinterpretation of artefacts and historical narratives: she brings them into a wider discussion about art, science, myth and identity. She has shown her work in a range of traditional and non-traditional environments from the Great North Museum: Hancock to The Mining Institute; she has hidden work in library shelves and projected across a derelict mine. She has worked with the Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle, creating works that draw from the society’s rich history of scientific rigour. Some of that work features in this installation and this research will continue during her Residency with the Society of Antiquaries in Newcastle in their bicentenary year.
Strange creatures sent back from a faraway land peer from constructed books, spells are cast with knitting needles and newsprint, while books turn into birds and take to flight. These are just a few of the images layered into this installation.
The objects, both made and found, were once connected to wider narratives, to individual bodies of work, but here they are decontextualized, allowing the stories to overlap and blur. Between spines, spindles and lenses are photographs of the wombat type specimen which was caught, nurtured then skinned by John Hunter. This rests next to the doctor’s bag once used in the Bosnian war, now filled with newspapers and knitting needles. Through form, or marks of use, each object hints to its sometimes extraordinary, sometimes mundane provenance. The objects begin to take on a new context as they are positioned in conversation with each other, and with the site: they allow time and intention to alter them.
This work, first installed at the Great North Museum: Hancock, is part cabinet of curiosity, part intimate travelogue and part family altar. It stands as a question to the viewer, inviting a closer look to search out traces and thread together new narratives.