Professor of Art History, Department Chair
B.F.A., Studio Art: Ohio University
M.A., Ph.D., History of Art: University of Pittsburgh
Graduate certificate, Latin American Studies: University of Pittsburgh
Ralph Pàquin was born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1954. During his adolescence, he studied with craftsmen and artists in California, Nebraska, Virginia, Florida and Rhode Island. He received a BFA in Sculpture at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where he studied under New York painter, Edward Togneri; Italian sculptor Dominick Angelo; and Chicago ceramic artist, Harvey Goldman. In 1980, he attended Cranbrook Academy of Art to study and work with world-renowned ceramic artist Jun Kaneko and sculptor Michael Hall. After Cranbrook, Pàquin shifted into large-scale artworks conceptually based on “the human condition.” In the following years, Paquin held residences and teaching positions at MIT, Ohio State University, Furman University and Presbyterian College, where he currently teaches.
From 1984-2004, Pàquin’s ceramic art shifted from object to multi-media installation/performance using mechanical objects, sound, and light. For the next eight years, he collaborated on large-scale installation projects with artist Ann Stoddard at a number of venues including MIT, MediaLab, and Artist’s Space Gallery in NYC. Following the decline of NEA and other public funding sources, Pàquin left the collaborations and returned to creating large-scale ceramic sculpture. During the next ten years, he dedicated most of his studio practice to making the figurative ceramic works titled “The Distraught Series.” The series attracted the attention of New York City art critic, Donald Kuspit, who visited Pàquin’s studio to write about his artwork.
The 2003-04 escalation in prices for natural gas, materials and shipping costs resulted in a major change of media choices for producing sculpture. Researching new media and processes, Pàquin’s sculpture and works on paper moved dramatically toward anthropomorphically reduced forms and shapes. This new body of over-simplified artwork consisting of sculptures and drawing continues to evolve into “essential forms” fueled by the science of genetics.
Pàquin currently maintains a sculpture and drawing studio in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he lives.