Derek Knight

Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture (retired)

Former Director, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

BA (Honours), Carleton University; MA, SUNY at Buffalo
Office: MW333
905 688-5550 x3754

Derek Knight, has been on faculty in the Department of Visual Arts since 1985. He was educated at Croydon College of Art, London, England, Carleton University, the University of British Columbia and State University of New York at Buffalo.

Currently he teaches courses in 20th-century American art, an Introduction to Contemporary art as well as advanced courses in Contemporary art and theory. In addition to his own production of photo-based, conceptual and site-specific art and participation in more than thirty group shows, Knight has developed a profile as an independent curator.

Curatorial projects include Utopia: Islands, a group exhibition at Rodman Hall Arts Centre in 1993, which combined the work of Kim Adams, Eleanor Bond, Katherine Knight, Matthew Meagher, Ian Smith-Rubenzahl, Philip Vanderwall and Nicholas Wade. In 1994, he concluded a three-year curatorial project titled Franc Petric: the Abattoir Project for Galerie Optica in Montreal with the publication of a lengthy bilingual catalogue that documented the site-specific and related performance activities of the artist in Montreal’s last remaining slaughterhouse.

He has also researched the work of the Vancouver based N.E. Thing Co., a corporate entity created by Iain and Ingrid Baxter (1965 – 1978). In his curatorial project, N.E. Thing Co.: the Ubiquitous Concept, presented at Oakville Galleries in the fall of 1995, he combined photoworks, installations and archival materials loaned from private collections, the National Gallery, the Ontario Art Gallery and the Canada Council Art Bank. The accompanying publication refocused attention on the relationship between N.E. Thing Co. and the signal developments of Vancouver’s internationally acclaimed photoconceptual movement. For his catalogue essay Knight was awarded the INCO Historical Curatorial Writing Award by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries in June of 1996.

Knight turned his interest to public and site-specific art, which culminated in October 1998 with a symposium at Brock University. Honouring the efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Lutz Teutloff who have established a collection of contemporary art on campus, Knight organized a two-day event with Dr. Dieter Ronte, Director of the Kunstmuseum, Bonn as featured speaker. The symposium brought together artists, critics and curators –– Gary Michael Dault, John Dickson, Cyril Reade, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Lee Rodney, Lyla Rye and Buky Schwartz–– in a lively and informative discussion on the differences between ‘monument’ and ‘anti-monument.’

Today, Knight’s research focuses on the interstices between public space and the emerging ecologies of post-studio art. In 2007, he was invited to curate Re-envisioning Habitat at Oakville Galleries, which brought together leading contemporary Canadian artists in a re-conceptualization of natural and urban geography. His studio work has evolved from large format photography to installation and public or site specific projects and among his more notable invitations: an inaugural commission under the guise of ARTIndustria in 2000 for the new Niagara-on-the Lake campus of Niagara College, participation in Power to the People at the Contemporary Art Forum, Kitchener and Area (CAFKA) in 2002, and under the guise of the Great Lakes Research Institute, participation in Ice Follies, the biannual site-specific project in North Bay in 2008. In 2017, he participated in an exhibition curated by Catherine Parayre and Reinhard Reitzenstein at Silo City in Buffalo, New York, where under the guise of ARTIndustria, he installed a generator powered neon sign which drew attention to the Buffalo River beyond its walls in the phrase attributed to Father Hennepin on first siting Niagara Falls, “Un beau fleuve”. It was the only lit element in a defunct 12-storey industrial building.

In the spring of 2020 he curated the exhibition titled Industrial Niagara at Rodman Hall Arts Centre, which brought together member colleagues from the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture. The exhibition was conceived as a preliminary investigation into the legacy and effects of industry on the Niagara Region. As the founding co-editor of the Small Walker Press, Knight has contributed essays or authored introductions to several books whose mission has been to bring together artists, writers, poets and theorists, to share their thoughts on common themes.

He was Director of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts between 2009-16 and held Brock University’s first endowed research chair in Creativity, Imagination and Innovation.



REFEREED BOOK REVIEW: Derek Knight, “Dan Adler, Contemporary Sculpture and the Critique of Display Cultures: Tainted Goods,” New York: Routledge, 2019. Journal of the Universities Association of Canada / RACAR 45 no. 1 (2020): 95-97.

INTRODUCTION: Derek Knight, “Alejandro Cartagena: Entropy Foreshadowed,” Alejandro Cartagena with creative writing by Tim Conley and Nicholas Hauck. Built to Ruin: Between Invisibility and Suburbia, eds. Derek Knight and Catherine Parayre. St. Catharines: Small Walker Press, Brock University, 2020, 56 pp.

INTRODUCTION: Derek Knight and Catherine Parayre, “Introduction,” in Donna Szőke and Gary Barwin, The Dark Redacted, eds. Derek Knight and Catherine Parayre. St. Catharines: Small Walker Press, Brock University, 2020, 48 pp.

ESSAY IN SUPPORT OF AN EXHIBITION: “Jimmy Limit: the Value of Utility [or, the Utility of Value],” Recent Advancements: Jimmy Limit, Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University, 2020 (original exhibition dates: January 18-May 4, 2014).


ESSAY: “Shawn Serfas: Trenchant Gesture, Topography and Painting’s Ethereal Nature,” Shawn Serfas: Inland, eds. Derek Knight and Catherine Parayre with creative writing by Richard Fausset. St. Catharines: Small Walker Press, Brock University, 2019.

CO-EDITOR: The Quarry, eds Derek Knight and Catherine Parayre. St. Catharines: Small
Walker Press, Brock University, 2019, with contributions by Lorene Bourgeois and Adam Dickenson.


ESSAY IN SUPPORT OF AN EXHIBITION: “Monumental Cadence and Entropic Flow: Silo City and Sites of Post-Industrial Regeneration,” Post-Industrial Ephemera: Soundings, Gestures and Poetics, Silo City, Buffalo, New York, exhibition catalogue, Brock University, 2018, 10-14.

ESSAY IN SUPPORT OF AN EXHIBITION: “Art is What You Think.” Visual Arts Honours Exhibition, Parts 1 and 2: Just Resting My Eyes (March 22-April 8, 2018) and Turnin’ This Car Around (April 14-29, 2018), Rodman Hall Arts Centre, Brock University, introduction, exhibition catalogue.

EDITOR: Catherine Parayre, Huit visites contemporaines au Centre d’art de Rodman Hall. St. Catharines: Rodman Hall Art Centre, 2018.


“Building Innovation (2): The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts,” Humanities Research Institute Annual Report, 2015-16, Brock University, July 2016, p. 2.


“Introduction: Art is in the City,” Lessedra International Painting and Mixed Media Competition, Sofia, Bulgaria: Lessedra Galley & Contemporary Art Projects, 2015, p. 16.

CONTRIBUTOR: Leslie Bolt and Catherine Payrare, Figuring It Out: Disfigurement in 20th and 21st Century Art and Literature,” St. Catharines: Niagara Artist’s Centre, 2015 (descriptive section on the book’s key images, 2015).


“Ruins: Quotidian Modalities in the Art of N.E. Thing Co.” Avant Canada: more useful knowledge, eds. Beaulieu, Derek and Gregory Betts. Calgary: No Press, November 2014, boxed edition.



REFEREED PAPER: “All Is Temporary: the Venice Biennale and the Improvised Moment.” Bridges Across Cultures, Washington and Jefferson College and the Centro Europeo de Studi Rossettiani, Maiori, Italy, June 26, 2019.

BOOK LAUNCH: Shawn Serfas: Inland and The Quarry, public discussion with Bernhard Cella and Catherine Parayre, Salon für Kunstbuch, Belvedere 21, Vienna, Austria, June 19, 2019.

BOOK LAUNCH: Shawn Serfas: Inland and The Quarry, Introduction, with Noelle Allen, Publisher, Wolsak and Wynn, and Catherine Parayre, Brock University, St. Catharines, May 9, 2019.


PAPER PRESENTATION: “Monumental Cadence/Entropic Flow,” Post-Industrial
Ephemera: Soundings, Gestures and Poetics, Silo City, Buffalo, Symposium, Rodman Hall, September 22, 2017.


PANEL PROPOSAL AND PAPER PRESENTATION: “Conceptual Acts and North Vancouver’s Interstitial Spaces,” session on “Global, Vernacular and Entropic Preoccupations in Vancouver: Against Beauty?” a panel for “The Concept of Vancouver” conference, October 13-14, 2016, Two Days of Canada, Brock University.


PLENARY SPEAKER: “On Photography: Photograph and be Photographed,” Digital Photography Program End of Year Exhibition and Awards Night, Niagara College, April 17, 2015.

“The new Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts: an Architectural Context,” Humanities Research Institute, Brock University, April 23, 2015.

REFEREED PAPER: Derek Knight, “The Venice Biennale: Art, Global Ambition and Quotidian Trends,” Canadian Society for Italian Studies, session on “The Visible and Invisible Venice: the City as Art and the Art in the City,” Sant’Anna Institute, Sorrento, Italy, Annual Conference, June 19-22, 2015.


REFEREED PAPER: “Quotidian Modalities in the Art of N.E. Thing Co,” Avant Canada: Artists, Prophets, and Revolutionaries, Brock University, November 5-7, 2014.


Great Lakes Research Institute, H.O.M.E.S., 2008, installation, Lake Nipissing, Ice Follies, North Bay, Ontario.

Derek Knight's work
Derek Knight's work
Derek Knight's work