It takes creative thinking to solve big problems, and Ann-Marie Knoblauch wants Virginia Tech’s visual arts students and faculty to find new ways to collaborate with research teams across campus to help fuel that kind of innovative thinking.

Knoblauch has been named director of Virginia Tech’s School of Visual Arts, now part of the newly restructured College of Architecture, Arts, and Design.

An associate professor of art history, Knoblauch has served as interim director of the school since 2020.

“I am enthusiastic about the future of the School of Visual Arts, particularly the role we will play in a newly conceived college that unites the creative disciplines,” she said.

With approval from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia effective July 1, the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design aims to elevate the university’s visual and performing arts, design, and architecture programs by grouping them together.

In continuing as the school’s director, Knoblauch said she hopes to expand efforts to add creative voices to problem-solving teams across campus.

“In recent years, the creative and scholarly work of our faculty and students has redefined the role of the visual arts and design within the STEM disciplines at Virginia Tech through collaborative projects, while at the same time expanding opportunities for all students to participate in practice-based visual art and design experiences,” she said. “I am eager to see these connections grow even stronger in the future.”

Recent collaborations include the Hokienauts, one of 10 university-based teams from across the country chosen by NASA to demonstrate their augmented-reality solutions designed for use in spacesuits, and the high-tech Celestial Garden and LACE exhibits that delighted audiences at this year’s ACCelerate Festival at the Smithsonian. 

“I think the reason why these collaborative efforts are important is because it is through such collaborations that students — both our own and those in STEM fields — see firsthand how the visual arts contribute to creative solutions and innovative thinking when it comes to investigating STEM-focused research questions,” Knoblauch said.

“Furthermore, by collaborating with visual arts students and faculty, STEM students can see their own disciplines — and the potential of those disciplines — through a unique lens. I believe such cross-disciplinary opportunities help all students to be more agile and dexterous, whatever their futures hold.”

The School of Visual Arts offers undergraduate education in studio art, art history, graphic design, and creative technologies, as well as a Master of Fine Arts in creative technologies and a cross-disciplinary master’s degree in material culture and public humanities.

A member of the faculty since 1998, Knoblauch’s research focuses on underrepresented groups in the ancient Mediterranean world, particularly the archaic and classical Greek world.

She has bachelor’s degrees in history of art and classical civilization from New York University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Share this story