Forty-something years later, he's still lives and works in Miami with studios in the Bakehouse Art Complex. He worked at the Zoo Miami as an exhibit designer. You can still find the 30-year-old tiger temple he helped plan and build.
His 75-foot tall tile mural of Muddy Waters playing guitar at 79th Street and NW 7th Avenue paints a vivid celebration of the city's black entertainment roots. This Friday, the artist presents two years worth of new work at his solo show "Hive Edge" at Farside Gallery in mighty Westchester. We spoke to McKnight about his new show.
New Times: So, how did the Edge Hive show come about?
Robert McKnight: I got introduced to Arturo Mosquera (Farside owner, art collector, orthodontist) by Glexis Novoa, a neighbor of mine. What happened is I started taking old sculptures from my studio at the Bakehouse and putting 'em in my front yard on North Miami Avenue where thousands of cars go by a day. Glexis started seein that and came down to see who was putting these beautiful, as he put it, sculptures out there and then he realized who it was, he knew of my other work, and it wasn't just some guy doing art without a concept of what he was doing.
Glexis brought Mosquera to my studio, but they didn't know I was doing the tile pieces so when they saw them it was like "wow, we gotta do a show on this, and thats how it all came about.
How did the show get its name?
We call it "Edge Hive" because of the process that I use in putting the tiles on edge instead of laying them flat like traditional mosaic.
What draws you to mosaic?
What's the work about?
It's not about a story being told. It's not about illustration. It's more about when you look at the work and you see there's a tug and pull or there's calm, or things are fighting against each other and then out of that comes a message, if you wil. It's asking you to feel, it's not telling you. It's not dictating a definite way to think. A lot of people get spontaneity mixed up with haphazard. I'm following that creative mind. Not to take away from portraits it's just a different approach to the art.
See McKnight's "Edge Hive" at the Farside Gallery (1305 SW 87th Ave., Miami). The exhibit opens Friday at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-264-3120.