Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Aurora Materialis
Lara Knutson. Soft Glass, 2010. Courtesy of the Corning Museum of Glass.

Lara Knutson. Soft Glass, 2010. Courtesy of the Corning Museum of Glass.

Historians organize our experiences in neatly defined historic movements. Romanticism, the intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, found expression in artistic and literary works that deeply impacted the Western world until about 1850. Romantic works stemmed from heightened emotions and man’s aesthetic experience in the world. In turn, they provoked strong responses as powerful and raw as the awe that nature inspires. Romantic artists aspired to capturing nature’s sublime as well as its spontaneity. A perfect example of this would be a lightning storm or the dramatic juxtaposition of a dark stormy sea with the opening of blue sky that promises peacefulness in the distance.

Today, art has moved away from such precise representation of nature. Yet, the desire to capture the sublime, which is in itself fleeting, remains a noble artistic pursuit.  Enter Lara Knutson, a former architect born and raised on Long Beach Island, NJ, who after ten years of architectural practice decided to focus exclusively on design. Knutson, whose Romantic sensibility is nestled underneath an ultra dynamic feminine presence, has always been fascinated by light. Light as a transformative force that turns seashell crumbs into glitter and particles of the atmosphere into color is what Knutson has chosen as her primary material. “Light is a material,” Knutson asserts “and it can be manipulated to produce shapes, forms, and three dimensional objects.”

To think of light as material borders the fantastic. But as history has proven before, the fantastic can be reached by unbounded imagination. Knutson’s imagination, combined with her technical expertise and her innate curiosity, overcomes the limits of the natural world. She has found a way to work with light, a material that in her hands becomes as pliable as clay. Contrary to clay, however, the beauty of her invention, light reflective surfaces on which she is obtaining a patent, stems from the constancy of change that light as material warrants. In other words, time, the fourth dimension, is part of Knutson’s designs.

With one of her art pieces in the collection of the Smithsonian and a series of works that she has titled “Aurora Materialis,” Knutson professes her dedication to new technology, new knowledge, and the future of our aesthetic experience. As such, she also presents a contradiction to the original Romantic Movement that embraced skepticism about new technological advancements.  Light is by definition associated with science, progress, and knowledge, all ingredients of our future reality. Caught with light in her hands, Knutson may very well be the first meta-Romantic artist of the 21st century.

© Thomaï Serdari