A conversation with

Exhibiting Artist,

Thom Knab

Our current Main Gallery and Studio Gallery exhibitors have grown into their own unique artistic styles through the development of their work. Amalgamate, by our Main Gallery Exhibitor Thom Knab, is a collection of discarded items used in a new way; finding a connection between disparate materials; appreciation of old technologies; non-traditional materials…assembled, collaged…amalgamated.

An Artist Talk will be held in the Main Gallery and on Facebook Live Saturday, March 26 from 12-1pm.

Thom Knab

How did you get involved with Book Arts?

I can’t recall exactly but I believe it was a workshop for my school district or my regional art education association. We were introduced to the center and then got to create some prints using the presses. I had such a great time. I used some of the pieces we printed in my artwork.

How did you begin creating your assemblages?  

It’s interesting because I may come at each assemblage from a different angle. Sometimes the idea might generate from a particular item or items I collect and at other times I may decide on a theme and then build around that. However, I typically like to let the objects/materials guide me to an artistic destination. There are times when I envision the work as large but then discover that making it smaller works better or vice versa. So, each one is certainly a journey.

How has your art developed over the years?

First, I have allowed myself to create the artwork I want to create without worrying about what others think it should be. I’m a lot looser than I used to be. I have also learned to be more experimental with my work. I try more things and explore my ideas. This led me to create the iconic puzzle piece portraits: this is an example of this. My work has become quite large at times as well. I also find that I ruminate on my ideas for long periods of time…almost like creating lots of sketches but instead sketching in my mind. Then all-of-a-sudden I’ll discover I’m ready to begin exploring/creating that idea.

Do you feel being an educator has influenced any aspects of your work/how you work?

As an educator, I encourage my students to explore ideas, make mistakes, and learn from their mistakes. I believe this has allowed me the freedom to do the same. I was the person that would overthink things, but I’ve learned to relax and enjoy the process as much as the final product. I believe it has made me a better teacher as well because it allows me to understand better how my students may think and feel as they create.

What do you want audiences to gain from your exhibition?

Foremost, I hope they enjoy the work and have an appreciation for it. I hope it makes them happy. I also hope it makes them think. I want them to see the pieces within the work as well as the entire work. Artworks have messages. The message might be about beauty, a theme, a feeling, whimsy, or a special meaning to the artist and/or viewer. I want audiences to feel secure in finding their own meaning while simultaneously attempting to find the meaning put forth by me the artist. I hope they see that many things can be used to create art. It is not so much what the artist uses but the communication relayed through those materials.


“As an educator, I encourage my students to explore ideas, make mistakes, and learn from their mistakes. I believe this has allowed me the freedom to do the same.”

This blog post was written by Book Arts Gallery Assistant, Nina Grenga. Nina is currently getting her Master’s at the University at Buffalo in Critical Museum Studies with a concentration in Arts Management.