Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Performance Art/Theater 2022

Autumn Knight

A portrait of Autumn Knight against a brushed orange background. She wears gold earrings shaped like leaves, a black shirt with brown leather detailing and blue eyeliner. She has short locked hair.
Photo courtesy of the artist.
  • 2022 Grants to Artists
  • Performance Art/Theater
  • Interdisciplinary Artist
  • Born 1980, Houston, TX
  • Lives in New York, NY
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

In my interdisciplinary work, I create performances, installations, and video works that fuse race, gender, and history with psychoanalysis and public space. To this end, I critique and deconstruct boundaries of the institutions that are constructed to be socially supportive. In my live work, I often examine how audiences interact with Black authority figures, make real conceptual material, and benefit from a conceptual/social experiment. My practice embodies a range of concepts around physical intimacy, global architectural commonalities, and present/future reclamations of power. With each work, I aim to put forth inquiries concerning the boundaries of social contracts.

- December 2021


Autumn Knight is an interdisciplinary artist who works with performance, installation, video, and text. Drawing from her training in theater and group psychology, Knight makes performances that reshape power dynamics and upend audience expectations of live experiences.

Her performance M _ _ _ ER—which premiered at DiverseWorks, Houston, TX in 2018—is a far-reaching meditation upon relationships with things, people, and oneself. Playing upon the absent letters in its title, the performance touches upon familial intimacy, violence, and being through the terms “mother,” “murder,” and “matter.”

Her work has also been shown by Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY (2021); Western Front, Vancouver, Canada (2021); The Kitchen, New York, NY (2020); On the Boards, Seattle, WA (2020, 2019); the Whitney Biennial, New York, NY (2019); Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA (2019); and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2017), which acquired her video and performance art for its permanent collection.

Knight has been recognized with an Anonymous Was A Woman Award (2021); the American Academy in Rome, Nancy B. Negley Rome Prize Fellowship in Visual Arts (2021); a Rema Hort Mann Foundation, Emerging Artist Grant (2019); an Art Matters Foundation Award (2018); and the Houston Artadia Award (2015).

Knight attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2016). She holds a B.A. in Theater Arts from Dillard University and an M.A. in Drama Therapy from New York University.

Autumn Knight sits on a sidewalk curb, holding her face in her hand. She wears a white linen outfit and holds a microphone in one hand. Next to her, someone holds out a collection of metallic ballons. One such balloon surrounds the performers head. A sheet made from the same metallic material hangs behind the performer. A bright pink light reflects on the performer and the balloons. A particially obscured audience member watches from behind.
Performance still from M _ _ _ ER, at Abrons Arts Center, New York, 2021. Photo by Maria Baranova.
Autumn Knight performs with a table covered ina metallic sheet, metallic balloons attached to her body, and a long metallic sheet hung from the buliding behind her.  A bright pink light reflects on the performer and the balloons. She holds a microphone and walks in mid-stride across the courtyard. Audience sit up the stairs behind Autumn and watch.
Performance still from M _ _ _ ER, at Abrons Arts Center, New York, 2021. Photo by Maria Baranova.
A performer sits with their legs crossed on a white plastic chair. They wear black leggings and grey spotted socks and their head is obscured by a white light orb. The wall behind them is purple.
Performance still from Autumn Knight at The Kitchen, live-streamed, The Kitchen, New York, 2020. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Autumn Knight performs in a glass enclosed space filled with red ballons which cover the floor up to her waist and the ceiling. She wears a black shirt with a red and white pattern and holds two microphones, speaking into them and facing a person holding a video camera opposite her.
Performance still from Sanity TV, at the Whitney Biennial, New York, 2019. Photo by Paula Court.
Autumn Knight slumps over a railing connected to the stairs leading into a pool. She wears a white t-shirt and kahki pants. Her feet are lifted and her head is turned down. To the left of her there is a structure in the pool made of metal cube frame with cloth attached to it, forming a bulbous shape. Beyond and above the pool there are trees and red brick columns.
Performance still from an experimental freezing of a room through metaphorical means, at Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist.