Artists have grappled with the effects of light and used light to create art for centuries. But no one has wrangled light the way Stephen Knapp has.
Polk Museum of Art is showing an exhibition of 14 “lightpaintings” by Massachusetts artist Stephen Knapp through March 8.
Knapp began experimenting with photography in college. His first professional experience as an artist was working for Polaroid Corp. to help develop their 20-x 24-inch instant camera. He worked in a number of other media, including clay and tile, before beginning to work in light as his primary medium. More than 15 years ago, he perfected the "lightpainting."
Lightpaintings are the intersection of painting, sculpture and technology by exploring color, light and space. Knapp has more than 30 years of experience creating installation art and exploring the possibilities of light. His work can be found in museum, public, corporate and private collections.
Lightpaintings are created by using cut, shaped and polished pieces of specially coated (dichroic) glass, installed perpendicular to the wall’s surface, to reflect beams of colored light into abstract compositions. He carefully crafted stainless steel brackets to create shadows of particular shapes and also to “ground” the light floating above them. Most of the lightpaintings are lit from a single source.
These unique works deepen the traditional relationship between the painter and light. They also expand the concept of light sculpture and light art, and they continue the traditions of kinetic art, op art and abstract painting. His sculptural canvases appear to be painted but are all created with light and glass.