Knight shares works with community

Jessie Sheley

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 One could have seen her adjusting frames, conversing in Sullivan Taylor about her self-taught art that lined the walls up until Nov. 1.

 Sharon Knight, who said she’s always had an “eye for photography” and an employee at Western Illinois University in the Dean’s Office of Arts and Sciences, had her first month-long photo exhibit.

 “I always liked to take pictures and I really liked to be in nature, walking through the woods,” Knight said. “About three years ago I decided to start a photoblog to do mobile photography and to challenge myself to do only cellphone photography with a new picture every day.”

 By doing this, Knight said she was able to teach herself about composition and lighting.

 “I did that for about a year and eventually got bored with it,” Knight said. “So, I eventually just bought a DSLR camera and started getting more and more interested in how to process the pictures and how to do composition. It took off from there.”

 When it came to the decision to start an exhibit of her works, Knight knew exactly what she was looking for.

 “I really had been doing the photography long enough that I felt I had a good enough body of work that I wanted to share it with people,” Knight said. “I wanted my first exhibit to be very laid back and informal. I know Dan and Ruth, who run the coffee shop, and I like them and the venue a lot. It just seemed like a fun and laid back place to have my first show. I just wanted to share what I had done so far with the community.”

 On display at Sullivan Taylor, Knight had 21 pictures available for purchase. Due to the cost of framing, the entire process for preparing for the exhibit took Knight about eight to nine months.

 “I knew I wouldn’t be able to do them all at once,” Knight said. “So, when I knew I was going to do a show in October, I decided I would get one or two framed a month and by Oct. I would have enough.”

 According to Knight, her favorite part of having an exhibit was coming in to check on things and have people talk to her about her photographs.

 “People see me and ask if I am the photographer, and they want to tell me what they think about it, that has been really fun,” Knight said.

 Knight was inspired by both a photographer and a painter while preparing for her showcase.

 “I really like the paintings of Andrew Wyeth,” Knight said. “He did landscape paintings in Pennsylvania, and his paintings are very monotone and sepia, a lot of rural images. Some of my work looks a little like that. As for photographers, I really like the work of Sally Mann. She does mostly portraits of people and outland pictures. I love that look. I try to be more abstract and less literal in my stuff.”

 The most challenging aspect of being a photographer, Knight recalled, was finding the time to practice her art.

 “I have to take care of my mother who lives two and a half hours away in assisted living, and so finding the time is difficult,” Knight said. “But, you do find the time. You just have to if you really want to. It was fun and it felt really good. Those first few years, I was just posting to the blog every day. I was going out and taking pictures almost every night and every weekend. That was challenging, but great. Now, it’s just finding the time to do it as much as I want.”

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