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Professor of Art Sam Knecht’s works are on display in Daughtrey Gallery Feb. 20-March 18. Sam Knecht | Courtesy
Pro­fessor of Art Sam Knecht’s works are on display in Daughtrey Gallery Feb. 20-March 18. Sam Knecht | Courtesy

By the time a student grad­uates from Hillsdale College, he or she will be familiar with at least one of Pro­fessor of Art Sam Knecht’s works. His painting, “The Signing of the American Con­sti­tution,” graces the cover of the Con­sti­tution Reader used for the core Pol­itics 101 course.  

But for stu­dents who want to see more than just the cover of their textbook, dozens of Knecht’s paintings,  ranging from land­scapes of Hillsdale County to por­traits of his family, will be on display in his exhibit “Glimpses” starting Sat­urday, Feb. 20, in Daughtrey Gallery at the Sage Center for the Arts.

Knecht’s been teaching art at the college for almost 40 years, but said most of his paintings on display in “Glimpses” are rel­a­tively new works. The selection of land­scapes pri­marily focuses on the state of Michigan and areas near campus.  

“Most of it will be fresh within the last two years,” Knecht said. “It’s a mixed theme with a sig­nif­icant number of land­scape paintings from the Hillsdale area and the Upper Peninsula. Simply speaking, this is a show of land­scape paintings and por­traits with some works that are classroom demon­stra­tions.”

The high­light of the gallery for Knecht is a series of por­traits of his twin daughters. Knecht has painted a new por­trait of his daughters every year since they were infants. He said the por­traits showcase not only the growth of the girls but also the growth of his family. Knecht said he put more than 100 hours into the por­traits of his twin daughters.

“I’ve tried to do a new por­trait of the twins every year as a Christmas gift to my wife,” he said. “They’re 14 now and the whole series will be on display in chrono­logical order. I’d change up the com­po­sition every year to mix it up as well.

“I con­sider myself a realist and I observe the truth of a scene — care­fully, I might add,” he said. “Let’s call me a romantic realist. I try to dis­cover the poetry of a subject while also paying attention to the facts. I look for the poetry of the par­ticular.”

Senior Forester McClatchey is cur­rently in one of Knecht’s art classes, and said the course has given him a deeper appre­ci­ation for his artwork.

“It is def­i­nitely inspiring to see what our instructor works on,” McClatchey said. “Espe­cially because he has such a broadly applicable, elegant style. To see how much work a pro­fes­sional artist puts in is simul­ta­ne­ously scary and reas­suring.”

Knecht has been painting since he was 16 years old. He said his current style of bold com­po­sition and bright colors con­trasts markedly with that of his earlier works.

“The work in my early career tended to involve a lot of water­colors, and I was a lot tighter and pickier with details, trying to get by on minutiae,” Knecht said. “In more recent years, I feel like I’ve broadened in that I’ve tried to capture more general qual­ities of color and imagery without getting quite so fussy.”

Stu­dents of Knecht said they enjoy his bold and col­orful style. Sophomore Patrick Lucas said it’s Knecht’s bright use of colors that evokes such great feelings within his pieces.

“I’m so excited to see the show because pro­fessor Knecht is like my favorite artist of all time,” Lucas said. “His style is very lush. It is a rich realism with a lot of colors.”

Knecht said that he has used painting as a way to capture the beauty of nature and those he cares about in a per­manent form.

“I’m in love with painting,” Knecht said, “and I just organize my life as best I can to be able to paint the things that I find com­pelling sub­jects.”

 

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Thomas Novelly
Collegian Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Novelly was born in Novi, Michigan, but was raised in Franklin, Tennessee, making him a self-proclaimed "Yankee gone South." Thomas began writing for The Collegian as a sophomore, and since has served as a reporter, columnist, and Assistant City News Editor. He has also worked for two major publications, interning at the Washington Free Beacon in D.C. and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has been seen in National publications such as CBS News, National Review Online, Stars And Stripes, and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.