Michelle L. Knaier is a fine art photographer who is inspired by the works of Edward and Brett Weston. She focuses mostly on the abstract and intangible qualities found in nature. This Buffalo-native now resides in San Diego County, and although she has lived in California for over twenty years, she is still in awe of the mysterious and powerful sea. She walks beaches in search of natural designs and patterns of seashells, rocks, kelp, water, and sand created by the movement of the ocean—designs that last only a moment, for each time the Pacific washes over them they are forever changed and are never duplicated. Each moment she captures is quickly erased by the sea, and this fluidity reminds her of how quickly time passes, and how short life is.
Michelle also enjoys capturing natural behaviors of animals, pleasing abstracts found in cities, and breathtaking landscapes. Her award-winning images have been showcased in galleries in San Marcos and Escondido, California. She earned a Certificate of Proficiency in Fine Art Photography, and is currently pursuing a Certificate of Proficiency in Alternative Process Photography from Palomar College.
While passionate about fine art photography, Michelle is also an educator. She is currently enrolled at Purdue University in their Curriculum Studies PhD program. Her research focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) inclusiveness within all levels and aspects of education-based institutions. She incorporates photography into her research agenda when possible. While in residence at Purdue, she presented two photography-based projects:
- “Focusing on heteronormativity” was a 12- image series that posed the following questions to the viewer: What does each image show and/or represent and why was it included in this project? What is the relationship between the image and social curriculum? What can I do to create a LGBT+ friendlier campus?
- And, “Zooming in on Everyday Activities, the Hidden Curriculum Embedded in College Culture, and the Turbulence Faced by Queer Students: A Photovoice Project” is a three-frame exhibit of over 50 digital images that is on permanent display at the LGBTQ Center on Purdue’s campus. This project encouraged three undergraduate participatory researchers to explore the question: How do students depict challenges they face on a heteronormative campus due to their sexual orientation or affiliation with the LGBTQ community?
As she progresses through her academic career, she will explore other ways to incorporate meaningful photography within her research and curriculum development.
There is beauty all around us, most of which goes unnoticed.
It is my intent, through my imagery, to get others to notice the little amazing moments and abstracts that nature has to offer by capturing nature’s essence.