In Memorium: Grace Knowlton

Grace Knowlton, artist and longtime resident of Snedens Landing, died on December 4th. Grace moved to Snedens in 1967 when she and her husband, Winthrop Knowlton, bought an old farm and converted the barn into a beautiful living space with the help of architect Hugh Hardy. She and Win moved in with their two daughters, Eliza and Samantha, and Win’s three sons from his first marriage, Win Jr., Chris and Oliver.

Born in Buffalo in 1932, Grace attended Milton Academy as a young woman, then Smith College and Columbia University’s Teachers College. Grace began her career as a potter. She created beautiful plates and bowls, plus the many tiles that decorated her kitchen floor in Snedens. She fired these pieces in electric, wood or raku kilns, all situated on the property.

Grace began creating spheres soon after and it was these spheres for which she first became known. If you visited her home, you would have noticed these spheres everywhere. Grace moved from creating spheres of clay to spheres in copper, bronze, and mixed media. Soon there were spheres in every room of her house, on bookshelves, in bathrooms, and scattered throughout her yard. Grace studied drawing, painting and photography over the years and integrated these media into her spheres while branching out to create sculpture, photographs and mixed media work independent of the spheres.

Grace gradually created an artistic community on her property, using outbuildings converted from the original farm. She shared her cottage and her two apartments, plus eight studio spaces (a dungeon darkroom, potting shed, yoga studio, silo pottery, garage spaces, and machine shop) with potters, painters and a photographer, plus an architect, engineer, scientist and doctor. With time, she converted almost every single room in her house into a studio or storage space for art. Grace invited young, aspiring artists to visit, observe, and learn. They would help her create her pieces in exchange for her feedback on their own work. It was an open-ended exchange, often continuing over tea and meals in her kitchen. Grace was generous with her time and her support. She valued these artists’ insights, which they greatly appreciated.

Grace was clearly successful as an artist. She showed her work in galleries and museums throughout the country. She has pieces in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, and Storm King Art Center. Grace clearly will be missed by her family and friends but she will be missed more by the artist community she loved so dearly.