About Burning Art

I have built “Burning Art” from my dreams. It has come a long way from the semi-sheltered studio in the Fourth Ward of Atlanta. It really makes me appreciate the rain proof haven I have here in the hills of Tennessee. Burning Art is about appreciating and fostering the inner child in all of us. My goal is to build art that you can play on. Huge installation-landscape sculptures that foster imagination to play on. It is important that my art is not the art one glances at from outside ropes and barriers, but one which engulfs the senses. I imagine jungle gyms and slides that incorporate themes that have playful lessons.

I may be getting ahead of myself there for these playgrounds have only been built in my dreams. But these dreams seem closer and closer everyday through this heavy metal process ever present with blood and sweat. Today Burning Art is about going to art shows, doing industrial metal fabrication, small blacksmith projects and putting shoes on horses. Yes, I do everything with metal and what I don’t know I want to learn. I have a studio with an array of equipment and tools. There are chain hoists set against the background of colorful paintings and murals, my anvil stands on a homemade stand with the horn pointing at the propane forge I also made myself, there is a whole wall of nuts and bolts from tiny sized to two feet long and large club speakers that can be heard over all the banging and pounding noises of this that I call my art.

I first learned welding from my dad at a young age. I remember going to alternative punk concerts at Griffis Sculpture Park near where I grew up on the outskirts of Buffalo, NY. There was amazing art that you could play on there. I took my first metal art class from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I went there to study ecology, which I used to enter the Peace Corps. I lived in the cloud forest jungle of Kabayan, Benguet in the Philippines for three years teaching environmental education, youth development and sustainable livelihoods where there were still villages with out roads or electricity. This experience affected me and my art deeply on a spiritual and environmental level. I came back and moved Atlanta for a few years where I got certified in various welding processes from Dekalb, Tech.

The work of Zophia Kneiss is a unique blend of art nouveau, conceptual art with a little hint of whimsical folk art. There is evident skill in working with the medium of metal; mild steel, aluminum and stainless steel. Pieces include functional art and sculpture. Commissions are welcome. She has worked on large scale sculptures for corporate clients and signs for business.


East Tennessee artists makes metal marvel

Live at Five
Beth Haynes, Reporter
Last Updated: 12/30/2005 7:44:45 AM

“I’ve always had a passion for metal,” says Zophia Kneiss.

It is a love Kneiss stumbled upon when she was a little girl. She loved horses and learned to shoe them early on. But, lately, this farrier is forging more than hooves. She is welding a whole new career with scrap metal. Her latest masterpiece is Kayouga, a 10′ by 16′ T-Rex dinosaur.

“She’s alive,” says Kneiss. “She came from paper. And I put a whole lot of sweat and energy in her. I’m very proud of her.”

And, so is Alan Shope of Bristol Galvanizing. He hired Kneiss to sculpt the creation for his boss. It is a late Christmas present. The dinosaur is their company logo.

“I think he’ll be very surprised,” says Shope.

Especially if he saw the sculpture five months ago. Kayouga was literally just a blueprint and a dream.

“My motto is if you can dream it I can build it,” says Kneiss.

She is proving that even though she has never had any art training.

“I went to school for Eco Systems Management and then went in the Peace Corp for 3 years. When I came back, I decided to do something different,” says Kneiss.

Metal rods and a torch is certainly different. Using the two, she has fired up her creative eye.

“I started with the head, made the spine and then put the legs on,” says Kneiss.

“She’s a very talented young lady,” says Shope.

After many 12 hour days, her masterpiece is finally complete.

“It came out perfect,” says Shope.

Fortunately, even though it is a T-Rex, the artwork does not share the dinosaur fate. Metal will never be extinct.

“It has a sense of permanence long after I’m gone. Even if the place burned down the sculpture would be here,” says Kneiss.

Forever standing tall, it is quite a legacy she is leaving behind.

“I think this is one of my best pieces yet. I’m excited he gave me the chance to build something big,” says Kneiss. “This is what I love to do. And, I’m glad I get a chance to do it and hopefully make people happy.”

In addition to Sculptor, Welder and Farrier, Kneiss is also a Blacksmith, and a Fabricator. Her ultimate dream is to create art kids can play on.

If you would like more information about her unique artwork call Burning Art Farrier Service at 423-626-6996



A1 lab arts grant recipient for Collaboration. 2006

Hallsdale Powell Utility District Community Partner, 2006


BWFA jourrneyman 1 farrier, Casey and Sons’

Mig welding Certified, Dekalb Tech.

TIG welding certified for stainless steel and Aluminum, Decalb Tech.

Metal Fabricator Certified, Dekalb Tech.

Blacksmith, John Cambell Folk School


Natural Resource Mgt, A.S. Paul Smiths’ College

Ecosystem Mgt, B.S. TESC

Certified Farrier from Casey and Sons horseshoeing school

Community Development training by US Peace Corps Philippines


Burning Art History

Burning Art started production in Atlanta, GA in some half sheltered studio in the Fourth Ward. Now, I have an amazing studio in rural Eastern Tennessee, i spend my days working with horses, welding, drawing up proposals and swimming with my dogs. I literally live on a lake and I love it. My studio is open to the public.

I take pride in exceeding my customers expectations. I build things to last, whether it is art, fabrication or even a minor trailer repairs. I do things as if they were my own. I put my customers and client’s jobs in front of mine thus leaving my projects often a bit rusty. I love what i do, and one can see this in my work.

Customer testimonials

“It came out perfect”–Allen Shope

“Cool!”– kids everywhere