Artist finds his voice through paint

By Sarah Brown
Of The New Era

Ammon Knight knows how it feels to be intelligent and yet not have a language to communicate from within.

It wasn’t until he started painting that he was able to find his language, and now he wants to help others find theirs.

“I can’t tell you how debilitative it is to feel as if you have no voice,” he said. “Painting gave me my first alphabet, to go into a world within my mind that I could speak.”

The artist, who’s new to Sweet Home from Portland, is currently hosting an exhibition, “Struggle and Hope,” at City Hall, 3225 Main St. He wants his work to inspire others to find their own gateway for expression.

“I want to reach people who have the same origin story,” he said. “I want to share there is beauty in them.”

“Struggle and Hope” is the centerpiece of the exhibit.

Knight is not afraid to confess that he was abused as a child and taught that he was worthless. But he found solace in reading, and will tell you that books saved his life. Later, well into adulthood, he spent $1 at a used bookstore for Sister Wendy Beckett’s “1,000 Masterpieces,” a collection of the author’s favorite paintings in Western art that included commentary on her insight into each piece.

Little did Knight know at the time that this book would ultimately lead to healing from his traumatic childhood.

“I had zero interest in painting, zero self-esteem,” he said. “I believed there was no beautiful thing inside me. I believed myself absolutely without anything.”

He remained enamored with the book, perusing it over and over again, carrying it with him and wearing it out so much that he had to buy a second copy, until the day he took it upon himself to attempt to paint.

Knight created his own artistic technique for spreading acrylic paint across a canvas by using his fingers. At one point, he said, he gave brushes a try, but it felt too unnatural. Dialing into present emotions, he uses colors and visual representations that illustrate them. For the painter, it was nothing like the masterpieces in Beckett’s book, but a day came when someone responded to something in his painting, something beautiful.

Knight shows his painting, “The Offering,” which sold on the first day of his show.

“I thought, ‘How can that be beautiful when I’m painting it, when I created it?'” he said. “I never thought that I could create something beautiful because of what was in me.”

But he began to question why he thought that way. He questioned what was done to him, what was said to him as a child. Growing up, he never questioned what was happening; it was just the way it was, he said. But as he began to see the beauty he created, he was able to rethink the way he saw himself.

Since then, Knight has shown his work at a variety of galleries, most notably the Chelsea Old Town Hall in London at the London Art Biennale in 2017.

His paintings at Sweet Home’s City Hall include titles such as “Crawdad Hunt,” about basic survival, paying the bills; “The Ring Toss,” about going through something when the odds are against you; and “Hope Park,” about love and hope. “Prayer” depicts a kneeling figure, but its focus shows that prayer is complex, it comes back to you, Knight said. And “Carry It With You” illustrates that beauty is carried within, regardless of circumstance.

The artist said many people don’t view his work the way he does. He sees somberness, the transfer of information to help someone out of darkness, and the optimism. Others see the beauty, the flowers and the serenity.

“When somebody sees my painting, they see peace and they see spirituality, and I’m really happy about that,” he said.

The exhibit’s centerpiece, “Struggle and Hope,” depicts the duality of struggle and peace. Each of the show’s paintings, he said, are a facet of struggle and hope. One, “The Angel’s Home,” is the destination, a place to be without worrying about being.

“I think, in the end, it’s (about) the arrival home,” Knight said.

Now, well-versed in his own language of expression, Knight wants to inspire others to start looking for the language that will help them. Where he once doubted himself, that he possessed beauty within, he found something valuable, and he wants to share that treasure with others.

The painter talks about his painting, “Carry it With You.”

“It’s not really entirely about painting,” he said. “It’s about accessing that there’s something within that can be communicated when you don’t believe there is something within.”

Don’t doubt yourself, he said. Don’t doubt that you have something within that’s more significant than you believe. And, also, believe that there are good people in the world.

“I realized quite young that I didn’t want to be what was done to me,” Knight said. “So any positive thing that I can put out, I prove to myself that I’m good, and hopefully show someone else that there are good people out there.”

Knight is planning his first healing through art workshop Friday, July 30, at Maker’s Studio, 585 S. Main St., Lebanon. For more information, contact the artist at [email protected].