Alison Knowles was born in New York City in 1933. She is a visual artist known for her soundworks, installations, performances, publications and association with Fluxus, the experimental avant-garde group formally founded in 1962.
She has created work that incorporates performance, radio, and sound, papermaking, and printmaking. She briefly attended Middlebury College and graduated from the Pratt Institute in New York with an honors degree in fine art. Knowles was married to the Fluxus artist and prominent intermedia theorist, Dick Higgins, from 1960 to 1970, and again from 1984 until Higgins' death in 1998.
In 2000, Knowles began casting flax paper to make musical instruments. The Bean Turner, Rattles, and Wings and Drums use beans for sound with the aid of text, toys and silence.
Knowles studied with the painters, Adolph Gottlieb and Josef Albers and maintains a studio in New York City. She has twin daughters, Jessica Higgins, a New York based intermedia artist closely associated with seminal curator Lance Fung, late Fluxus gallerist Emily Harvey, The Artists Museum's Construction In Process and having performed and collaborated as a youth in original Fluxus related events and Hannah Higgins, a writer and art historian residing in Chicago, Illinois.
In 2006, her The Time Samples exhibition traveled from Venice to New York. In 2008, she performed three Event Scores at the Tate Long Weekend in London. Her Make a Salad exhibition drew an audience of 3000 people.
Knowles' Event Threads series appeared at Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York and traveled to Geneva and Berlin. She performed in Bern and Zurich in 2008. In 2009, she exhibited and performed in The 3rd Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989 at the Guggenheim Museum. In 2010 she participated in the art project Trust Me, by Gema Alava, in company of artists Ellen Fisher, Jessica Higgins and Jason Schmidt (photographer).
Knowles was appointed guest professor at Documenta X in Kassel, Germany. She also taught at Sommerakademie in Bochnia, Poland in 1990. Knowles was an Artist-in-Residence at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2009.