Derek Knight

Associate Professor, 19th and 20th century art/contemporary art and theory

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 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 European and North American art history, contemporary art and theory, and contributes to the MA program in Studies in Comparative Literatures and Arts. 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 Art Industria 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.

Professional work

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
  • VISA 3P05 The European Avant-Garde: 1907-1970
  • VISA 3P06 The American Avant-Garde: 1913-1970
  • VISA 3P90 Readings in Contemporary Art I
  • VISA 3P91 Readings in Contemporary Art II
  • SCLA 5P03 Contemporary Critical Theory and the Arts (team taught)
  • SCLA 5P64 Space and the Social Ecology of Post-Studio Art