Gerhardt Knodel

Letting Go

Letting Go is a cultural journey that ferries imagination to places of promise and potential.Migration is the subject, what we take with us, what we leave behind, and what blossoms in the process.

We walk alone, making discoveries along the way, leaving clues of our existence for others to discover.

The history of decorative arts reflect our symbiotic relations as the power of Nature flows through us, nurtures us. It is the hiccups of nature that give us problems, that interrupt our ideas of normal, that draw us into self-reflection.

Detente. 2021. (A relaxing or easing of tension between rivals via negotiation.) Seven panels, each 49 x 22 1/2 x 2 in., mounted and framed under Optimum glass.

We Went, But Can’t Say Where.

A migration on water, each panel initiating the next move forward toward a goal of discovery, and a future. The passengers are four reds and four blues finding their way together.

Curtain to Celebrate Arrival. 115 x 225 in., Five panels of Digitally printed Polyester.

Eight marionettes. 2022. Featured in video “Letting Go.”

Strangers whose identity, personality and history emerged in the process of making. We can imagine their state of mind as they arrive after their risky journey, place their feet on new soil, and anticipate.

Felix Sprat

A young punk kid with an allowance from his parents that supports his passion for fashion.  He lives in space-age culture, but dresses more in terms of bumble bees than astronauts.

Harley Ho

A 22 year-old super talent who has stunned the sports world with his super confidence.  A super star who is ready for anything and anyone.

Theresa von Bingham

 Mother is loaded and has arrived, so let the music begin!  Clubbing is habit with this fixture of hot spots in town.  She’ll die dancing as she explores and practices a kind of hypnotic therapy at the center of the floor.

Faisal French

He towers above.  He tickles clouds and speaks to the sun.  He brings inspiration down to earth with movement that inspires others to reach for the starts.

Bell Duball

Ah! To be ‘Life of the Party’ in a journey that turned out to be completely opposite expectations.  Dressed in couture created to accentuate her every move,  she raises the roof with her lateral swing.  Clear the floor!! Bell has arrived!!

Sassy Gordan

Formerly insecure, Sassy’s new satin comforter clings like a leading partner that won’t let go, inspiring every move.  She wears her partner! How will she will ever be able to take the heat at Club Brazil……if she ever gets there?

Valente Pescado

An actor and dancer who admires his own talent but can’t seem to convince others.  He is on the way to another audition, prepared to transform and meld into the moment with his unique self-invented body language.

Dorece Devoon

A star idolized by generations of fans who won’t let her retire.  Her deep contralto voice hypnotizes as she embodies the blues. Lost in the rhythms of her imagination she carries  forward as if in a dream.   

Passengers on a journey of migration celebrate safe arrival despite knowing nothing about where they are.

Exodus. 2022 40 1/2 x 89 x 11 in.

LETTING GO. 2023. Video presenting a challenging journey, by boat, a migration of eight characters who survive and arrive at their distant destination with optimism and energy.

Four reflections of eight marionettes on their arrival in the new land. 2023. Ink and pencil on waxed velum, each 24 x 36 in.

Skyhigh Over Pontiac

2020 marked completion of projects inspired by a Chinese Ming Dynasty tapestry that initiated thoughts on migration, not the tragic contemporary conditions reported in the news, but on the positive cultural values that accompany migrants who leave one country for another. The artist’s responses to the journey had to conclude in his studio in old downtown Pontiac, Michigan where a series of kites, traditionally celebrated as airborne messengers, became a perfect representation of the journey. 28 fabric kite-like forms superimposed with the emblematic flower image depicted in the tapestry, floated above a map of Pontiac, seen as if one was flying high above the city.

In November 2022, members of the downtown Pontiac community were invited to the studio where 28 guests were invited to celebrate and participate in the project.

Each recipient was encouraged to display and photograph the kite in their place of business with a goal of generating a fresh context for initiating reactions to the migrating Chinese fragment that years earlier had mysteriously found its way into Knodel’s studio. Each kite now lives in a new environment with new owners and renewed potential. Survival is possible (but is not assured!) Will the Ming legacy be sustained?

An Unexpected Guest: COVID-19

In drawings developed during the first few months of lockdown, the Chinese Ming Dynasty flower served as an image that hovers over existence, a perfect metaphor for life. A series of 56 drawings began on February 21, one per day, each starting with the abstracted flower, a hothouse plant dependent on chance and care for survival, a metaphor for life in jeopardy. Spontaneous mark making began to reveal human portraits in the final two rows of Greenhouse drawings, and inspiration for several additional series that followed.

56 Greenhouse Drawings, Ink and colored pencil on velum, photocopies of clips from NYTimes front page, Feb. 21-May 5, 2002, linen, gator board, 104 x 82 in.

The COVID Effect on the Power of Flowers, Ink on velum, gator board, linen, Each 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 in

Doubletakes, Ink on velum, gator board, linen, Each 8 1/2 x 17 1/2 in.

The drawings also inspired curiosity about architectural housing for the drawings, places of remembrance, settings that enhance the expressive and emotional conditions inherent in the existence of the virus, conditions that might be memorialized to serve future generations.

Three Reliquaries For Life Between February 21 and May 5, 2020

Reliquary For Hidden Truth 1 - Maquette, 40 x 30 x 30 in.

Reliquary for Hidden Truth 2 - Maquette, 47 x 25 x 25 in.

Reliquary for Hidden Truth 3 - Maquette, 28 x 24 x 24 in.


Beginning in 2018 discovery of a silk tapestry fragment became the source for a four year journey. The silk textile made in Ming Dynasty China reflected long traditions of appreciation for signs and symbols that negotiate with unseen forces. Details of the tapestry fused with unexpected additions. The “new” was found on the edges of the past, discovered as in playing the game Exquisite Corpse.

Destiny 1, 9 x 67 in.

Destiny 2,  9 x 67 in.

Destiny 3,  9 x 67 in.

It Had To Be You:

Genomia, 74 x 58 x 6 in.

Inevitabilia, 74 x 58 x 6 in.

Legacia, 74 x 58 x 6 in.

Marvolia, 74 x 58 x 6 in.

By products of process

Things That Get Caught In Trees After A Storm, Each 29 x 26 x 3 in.

The 17th century textile fragment was made in China, but never used there. Instead, it boarded a Portuguese ship destined for Lisbon, and was ultimately sold as a rare, exotic and very desirable product. The textile “migrated” from one culture to another, transferring aesthetic values, a coincidence with contemporary human migration occurring today in many parts of the world. Cultural values travel with displaced people.

Flower Powered: Embarkation, 132 x 84 in.

Flower Powered: Anticipation at Sea, 132 x 84 in.

Flower Powered: Projecting Potential, 132 x 84 in.

Migration inspires imagination. One finds strength in imaginary forces that accompany boats on the surface of dark oceans propelled forward by the wind and currents, infecting the sky with optimism, the driving force of living things, overcoming doubt.

Minglings, Variable, 24 x 24 in. to 48 x 48 in.
















Homecoming, 45 x 153 in.

Port To Port: Invocation On Water’s Edge, Each 15 x 30 x 2 in.

© 2023
Gerhardt Knodel