Sophie J. Knee
1995 MFA Texas Tech University
1992 BFA The Ohio State University,
summa cum laude with distinction
2013 OSU Faculty Club
2013 Sharon Weiss Gallery
2010 Sharon Weiss Gallery
2014 Ohio State Fair
2014 Zanesville Museum of Art
2010 Ohio Art League MCE
When I became involved in the Art360° project, most of the eggs finished to that date were paintings, in oil, acrylic or encaustic. I knew I wanted to make an egg that involved printmaking, because I felt that works on paper (printmaking in particular) needed to be represented. Once the ostrich egg was in my hands, I kind of fell in love with its surface, which is very different from the surface of a (more familiar) chicken egg. The weight and feel of the egg as an object reminded me of a porcelain vessel. There is a hole in one end of the egg, presumably made when its contents were removed, which makes it even more like an urn or vase. This presented a bit of a challenge, because I suddenly didn't want to cover the surface of the egg with too much of anything else. Also, it's a 3-dimensional surface, and my prints are inherently flat; I use huge presses which exert thousands of pounds of pressure, as if to emphasize the 2-dimensionality of my images. Clearly, the egg was not directly compatible with my printing press.
Around the same time, I began working on another project that involved an image of a blue transferware ceramic vessel, and made the connection to the egg's delicate and porcelain-like surface. I like transferware ceramics. During the 19th and 20th centuries, they were manufactured in my native England, and I have a small collection of items from both sides of my family. They remind me of the grandparents, aunts and uncles who once owned them, and also of my homeland. I made another connection to a printmaking technique, in which wheat paste and pressure are used to bond different papers together into a single surface. I began experimenting with very thin, tissue-like papers, wheat paste and chicken eggs, and discovered that small pieces of very thin paper could be attached to the curved surface of the egg without distortions or wrinkles. With its surface design of blue leaves, I decided the egg really needed a gilded lip, and this meant I could utilize the existing hole as part of the design.
Connections between the “Blue Transferware Egg” and my more usual work are as follows:
- The flatness of the printed leaves, which sometimes appear as an element in my monotypes and intaglio prints.
- My concern with material surface as it relates to printed information. Usually, this is about the relationship of ink to paper, which has a physical identity of its own. With the egg, the paper disappears, and the egg remains visible, in terms of the texture of the eggshell as well as the entire form, including the gilded edge at (what is now) the top; and
- The relationship between the leaves, as positive, and eggshell, as negative space. A fine art print is (in extremely simple terms), an arrangement of ink on another surface (usually, but not always, paper), which communicates something to, or elicits a response in, the viewer. I'm not interested in creating illusions of reality in my prints, but I am interested in the possibility or making reference to reality. I think that the egg also does this, as it recalls, rather than replicating or imitating, the familiar transferware china.