The Art of Transformation

Program Description

The experience of art can soften hearts, open minds, and shift our relationship to social issues. Making art empowers us and transforms our way of being in the world. The Art of Transformation invites participants to explore the work of artists who transformed white-supremacist books into thought-provoking sculptures, paintings, prints, quilts, and books. Supported by a partnership between the Holter Museum of Art and the Montana Human Rights Network, Curator Katie Knight spearheaded the creation of Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate, an exhibition and education project which traveled to 11 museums in Montana before touring from coast to coast. Through slides of the art, Knight illustrates the diverse strategies artists use to transform hate, as they share personal narratives, witness history, layer beauty over terror, juxtapose unlike objects to convey new meanings, practice compassion, and evoke mystery. Participants are invited to see, feel, ponder, discuss, and create along with the artists. Knight offers audiences opportunities to share their interpretations, experiences, and strategies for creating a more just society. To stimulate discussion and engage participants, Knight provides the following activities in her program, The Art of Transformation:

  • Present a slideshow on the Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate
  • Discuss artists’ diverse strategies for responding to, and transforming hate.
  • Invite participants to share an experience of realizing or witnessing discrimination.
  • Suggest participants choose two provided objects and juxtapose them to evoke a new meaning as a group discussion.
  • Partaking in a cross-out poem activity. Example: starting with a page from The Whiteman’s Bible, guests select texts that conveys a message of transformation. Together the group creates a poem together..
  • Demonstrate an accessible visual art-making method using stencils and any drawing medium. Participants create symbols and design a picture to communicate the transformation of an oppressive condition that concerns them into a positive outcome.

Presenter Bio

Katie Knight is an international human rights photographer and has worked on behalf of democracy starting in 1990 in Nicaragua and El Salvador. She served as an international election observer during national elections in both countries, helping to write reports about election concerns and challenges to democracy. She has exhibited her photographs documenting these conditions, and traveled extensively to present relevant public programs. Katie has also traveled twice in post-apartheid Namibia and South Africa through a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship and a Partners in Human Rights Fellowship, where she has researched issues of emerging democracy, made documentary photographs, developed educational curriculum for students and teachers, and presented lectures and exhibitions. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and has served Montanans as a Curator of Education at the Holter Museum in Helena. Currently, Katie teaches gifted and talented students in the Helena School District PEAK Program.


Katie Knight