Behind the Reflections of
Margot Quan Knight
by Suzanne Beal
Eds. Seattle-based artist Margot Quan Knight found a unique way to blend her love of photography and quilting in a recent series of abstract portraits. Below we read an excerpt from the article "Margot Quan Knight: Commanding Reflection" by Suzanne Beal, included in our November/December 2010 issue on page 28. We also take a closer look at some of Quan’s mesmerizing portraits to learn about the people and stories she attempts to capture.
The link between photography and quilts may seem tenuous, but both mediums attempt to capture fragments of life on a flat surface. Margot Quan Knight’s project, titled Mirror Quilts, was inspired by the quilt that adorns her parents’ bed. Made by her mother from repurposed family fabrics such as old clothes and curtains, it presents an intimate yet abstract portrayal of a family over time.
To begin, she cut pieces of mirror into diamonds, triangles, and squares to form a traditional eight-point star pattern, which she then glued to a heavy nylon backing. The result was a roughly four-foot-by-three-foot reflective quilt design that weighs about twenty-five pounds. She then traveled to twenty-odd houses to photograph the domestic interiors of friends, family, neighbors—and even her dental hygienist—via the reflections picked up in the mirror quilt’s surface. “Houses reveal so much about the people who live there,” says Knight, who focused on capturing objects that she knew were important to each of her subjects. “I tried to know enough about them to get what they cared about in my picture.”
All images are Lambda print photographs of home interiors reflected in pieces of glass mirror arranged in a quilt pattern; 50" x 35", taken from 2008-2009. All photos by the artist.
EM was taken in the home of a woman who had an entire spare room filled with racks of clothing. Her daughter moved to New York and her mother was a designer/tailor who had made tons of garments, so she has all these clothes she can’t throw out... perfect for making a quilt!
AP is a friend about my age (in his mid '30's) who is a veteran- he flew planes for the US Air Force in Iraq. He was upset to be called into duty a second time since it meant giving up his season tickets to the symphony. I set up the mirror quilt in front of his massive collection of records (mostly classical music).
MH was taken in the home of a couple whose home is almost a fantasy. The TV room, where I hung the quilt, was decorated floor to ceiling with their collection of paint-by-number paintings, animal print curtains, throws, and pillows, and Elvis paraphernalia. At Halloween they decorate the outside of their home, drawing thousands of viewers.
JB was taken at the home of my dental hygienist. She lives near a Goodwill thrift store where she finds all kinds of things that she paints, alters, or combines to create fancy-looking decor like gold framed mirrors and old fashioned books. Her house looks like it should be in a magazine.