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Knight discovers knack for art, finds freedom in expression

Knight discovers knack for art, finds freedom in expression

Painted on senior Riley Knight’s wall is a tree with the cartoon-strip characters Calvin and Hobbes perched in its branches taking a snooze. Calvin, a precocious six-year-old boy, has a lot more in common with Knight than one would assume. Both have a discomfort for the structure of school, a love for sleep and larger-than-life imaginations that define their characters.

Knight channels his imagination through his art, a field that he got into his freshman year. He had always been an avid doodler but had never taken any official classes, according to senior Vicki Mohr, fellow AP Art student.

“He has been doodling ever since I could remember,” Mohr said.  “Both he and I would draw cartoons while our teacher read books out loud.”

Currently, Knight is enrolled in South’s AP Art course that requires each student to set up a twelve-piece concentration of artwork that revolves around a certain theme. Knight focused his theme on school, matching each grade he’s been in to a different piece of art.

“Since there are twelve pieces, I’m doing a piece for each grade of school that I’ve gone through so far,” Knight said. “Since this is our twelfth year of school right now, I’m doing a piece for each grade and how the structure that school is made of made me feel about myself and how creativity works.”

Knight’s choice of concentration is a genuine reflection of the clash between Knight’s personality and the rigid structure of the education system, according to Stephanie Fuja, AP Art teacher.

“He’s very driven, but he also is all over the place with organization sometimes and sticking to deadlines, and I think that shows up in his work,” Fuja said. “A lot of his pieces this year are about that, about his story and his life growing up in the education system and how he never felt like he fit in. The work is almost a direct reflection of him, which is really cool. “

Accordingto Knight, his incompatibility with the school system is magnified by severe attention problems that make school a challenge.

“My teacher gave us tests in the old art classes I took where we’d have to know terminology and different styles of paintings, and I always got bad marks on those ones,” Knight said. “I’d always do good on the assignments, B’s and A’s, but when it came to the quizzes on the actual hard knowledge, I’d always get C’s and below.”

This inability to focus is not part of his work ethic when it comes to art, however. According to senior Suge Lim, fellow AP Art student, Knight is very devoted to his artwork and spends a lot of time mastering the smaller things.

According to Knight, his knack for details is the exact reason why his favorite things to draw are hands and noses.

“What is fun or interesting to draw for me would be hands and noses,” Knight said. “They’re extremely difficult to draw because there are so many wrinkles and so many things about the hands that you can’t see unless you’re looking at them very closely.”

Knight enjoys both creating art and observing other people’s art because he believes both are an accurate portrayal of the inner-workings of the mind.

“My favorite part of art is not only making art but being able to see somebody else’s art and getting a glimpse into how their mind works,” Knight said. “Same goes with creating art. You’re able to visually represent how your brain works to somebody else. It’s kind of like jumping into that person’s head.”

Knight’s passion for his work combined with his right-brained personality is conducive to a successful artistic career, according to Fuja.

“I can see him working in the graphic design, industrial design or illustration world and being very successful,” Fuja said. “You need that type of busy, all-over-the-place personality that has strong passion and drive for art to be successful in that world, so I do see him being very successful if he puts his mind to it.”

According to Knight, he has already applied to a handful of schools that will allow him to major in art.

“[Art is] definitely going to be a career [for me]because I’m a firm believer that if you love what you do you won’t work a day in your life.” Knight said.

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