Thomas Knight

Thomas Knight
Prof. Emeritus, Art Dept.
1956-1990, Education '50, '54

Thomas Knight
Arcata, CA

For Humboldt State photography Professor Tom Knight ('50, '54), light was everything. Whether it was illuminating the crescent outline of a subject's face or highlighting the opalescent luster of a common washbasin, Tom made finding the right light at the right moment his life's passion.

"Tom had definite feelings that everything should be natural, light was so important to him," says Katy Knight ('53), Tom's wife. "He didn't use flash or lights unless he was teaching the studio photography class. He didn't think you needed new equipment, he just thought everything should be very basic and I think it shows in his work."

At just 11 years old he was printing photographs at his family's home in a backyard shed that his parents had converted into a darkroom. At age 14, Tom entered a photography contest sponsored by the Oakland Columbarium and The Oakland Tribune and won. He entered the following year and won again.

Tom enrolled at Humboldt State and graduated in 1950 and retuned for a master's degree in education.

In 1953 he was hired as an art and English teacher at Arcata High School where he developed a thriving photography program. Three years later he was hired by the Humboldt State Art Department to teach jewelry, design, painting and photography.

"Tom Knight was instrumental in creating an environment here for photographers because at the time there were no specific schools for photography," says Professor Don Anton, Knight's successor. "This is the second oldest school of fine art photography in the United States—Tom fought very hard to make this work here."

Tom taught at HSU until his death in 1990.

A new book of Tom's work, from the 1940s to the 1980s, is titled simply Tom Knight. Knight's wife Katy (who wrote the introduction) published the book with assistance from Bill Brazill ('70, '73) and Neil Gilchrist ('66), two of Tom's former students.