Art In An Open Field

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, There is a field. I’ll meet you there..”

I was recently talking to a friend who is also an artist and in our conversation, she said that she thinks I have a more expansive view about art than she does. Later, in a conversation with my sister, she gave me a definition/ her definition of a painting. She asked, “does it have a stroke?” Turns out she and I also have different definitions of what “painting” is. Whether or not a painting has a stroke never occurred to me as a qualifier. 

The words “in an open field” have been permeating within me over the course of this week. So, I thought to meander in this field I call art and explore its openness in order to begin to address the term “art” and what I mean when I use it’s name. 

Nsenga Knight in her Queens Museum studio where she is 2022-2024 In Situ Fellow and Artist in Residence


This blog post will be totally subjective because I’m in the open field. 

The field is called art. 

It has colors. 

It has space and time

It has a history. 

It has a moment. 

And a presence

And it calls us to presence. 

I once heard a friend describe art as anything that has a creative intention. 

This can be art. 

Anything that one seeks to elevate. 

To point out and isolate. 


Nsenga Knight 2016, Plateau #1, Photography/ Archival Inkjet Print Mounted on Dibond, 32 x 40 inches

This too can be art. 

Whatever the artist makes and calls art. This MUST be art. 

Art is an open field. 

It’s expansive. 

It takes up space and territory. 

Deleuze would say it deterritorializes. 

The artist is a conqueror. 

Nsenga Knight 2022, X Speaks: An Appeal to African Heads of State (at the Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo, Egypt), Multimedia Performance Art and Social Practice (English and Arabic), ~2hrs


I say this because every day, artists are taking things that never were art, and never were meant to be art, and making them art. 

They have been made a slave to the art medium. While also being elevated.

Who subjugates and elevates at the same time?

The artist does that!

The Creator does that!

Because only a creator can destroy and fashion at the same time.

Because the artist takes that thing and turns it in a new direction.

Before, it was a slave to a cause.

Now it is the cause.

The artist, through it’s medium tells the thing it can be more than just a function. 

It lets it be without doing. 

Nsenga Knight, 2023 Fitra: Amber (Sajda), Watercolor Paint on Clay Board, 6 x 6 inches


This is art. 

Very few things – save babies, are allowed to just BE. 

To be admired. 

To be curious. 

To stand in awe for all to bear witness to it. 

To engage and become a part of it.

Open and inviting.

Transforming, transformed and transformational.

This is art.

To be alive, to be living, and to give life.

Open up and let it come through you.

Walk, fly, skip, jump, roll, levitate and bear witness with all of your senses in the open field, ART.