Growing up in a rural town transforming itself into a city, I’ve always taken notice of the growth and decay of landscapes, and how these changes influence my wellbeing. My practice considers my body’s relationship with nature using a language of mythology, folklore and religious icons. Drawing particularly from medieval Irish art, feminist theory and Ecocentrist philosophy, I paint, draw and stitch fantastic terrains inhabited by sympathetic monstrosities. These characters live in the tricky in-between space between life and death, male and female, human and nonhuman, and reality and fantasy – the liminal, creative gap between dualities. Through these dissident bodies, I seek to trouble the tidy divisions between natural and unnatural, drawing connections between the beauty and terror of natural forces and that of queer and female bodies. I smudge the edges of the “perfect body,” discorporating the human form back into its surroundings, both to political and spiritual ends.
At different times, I’ve believed my body was too wild, like unbroken earth requiring cultivation, or that it was far beyond nature’s blessing, toxic and sterile. I feel kinship with the oaks that disappear beneath the parkways, and the flowers that grow in the scars in the asphalt. They live and die according to others’ plans, but also often in spite of them. The landscape teaches me about the life outside my door, as well as the life inside my skin. Like the flora and fauna subjected to urbanisation in my childhood neighbourhood, my work navigates the tension between wildness and imposed domestication.
Reilly Knowles is an undergraduate student at Western University in London, Ontario pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Studio Specialization and a Minor in Women’s Studies. Knowles is a recipient of the Gray Creative Arts Award in Visual Arts, the Mackie Cryderman Award for Excellence in Visual Arts, and the Kate and Robert Taylor Scholarship in Visual Arts. He has exhibited at Good Sport (London, ON), Holcim Gallery (Milton, ON), TAP Centre for Creativity (London, ON), Artlab Gallery (London, ON) and Satellite Project Space (London, ON), among many other venues.