Marc St. Pierre’s passion for art and printmaking voyaged from Quebec City to Paris, from Geneva to Illinois, and finally to the SouthCoast of Massachusetts. It is here where his legacy as an instructor, friend, and artist remains alive.
When Marc passed away unexpectedly in December 2019, his family and friends knew the best way to honor his memory: to support students who share his desire to create, innovate, and share art with others. The Marc St. Pierre Memorial Scholarship was established for students pursuing a Master’s of Fine Arts at UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, where Marc was a treasured faculty member and mentor to so many for 38 years.
“So many students have told me how Marc changed their lives and influenced their art careers. We are honored to create an opportunity for more students to pursue graduate studies at CVPA,” said Nicole St. Pierre, Marc’s wife, who also received an MFA at UMassD in 1998.
Marc’s education and career brought him to many places, but for 41 years, he made the SouthCoast home and played a significant role in energizing its local art community.
From Quebec City to the SouthCoast
Marc received his BFA from Laval University in Québec City, Canada, in 1976. He studied in Paris, under Stanley William Hayter, one of the most significant printmakers of the 20th century, at Atelier 17, and spent a semester at the Centre de Gravure Contemporaine in Geneva in 1977. After earning an MFA in 1979 from Southern Illinois University, he settled into New Bedford with Nicole to teach printmaking at Swain School of Design, a predecessor school to UMass Dartmouth.
Marc was a professor of printmaking at Swain School of Design in New Bedford, from 1979 to 1988. When Swain merged with UMassD in 1988, he taught printmaking and photography until his retirement as a professor in 2017, including serving as chairperson of the Fine Arts Department for seven years, after serving as the Director of the Freshman Program for three years.
He easily captured his students’ attention and interest, developing friendships with students that often lasted for many years.
“He was wordly and charming, in a way that I envied,” said Don Wilkinson ’88, MFA’82. Wilkinson worked with Marc as an undergraduate, then again when Marc was his graduate advisor, and enjoyed a lifelong friendship. “Only a few years older than me, his approach to printmaking was complete devotion, full immersion. Whether he was teaching stone lithography, woodcut, etching or screen printing, he was a master printmaker—the press whisperer.”
The legacy of an artist, instructor, and community partner
As an artist, Marc’s work ranged from printmaking to photography, amassing a collection of abstract works that are inspired by architecture and highlight the relationship between space and distance. His exploration into multimedia art combined several concepts and approaches to image making—collages, multidimensional works with glass, and hot-wax creations with encaustics. He challenged himself as a photographer as well, fashioning pinhole cameras from oatmeal boxes, then experimenting with photo developing and editing techniques. An all-around tradesman, Marc also crafted his own frames for his artwork.
As an instructor, Marc instilled a desire to create something truly unique and to challenge one’s art by applying new concepts in his students, especially in multimedia-based courses. “That class opened many students’ eyes to the realization that they could create something new and unexpected if they allowed themselves to be experimental,” said Lasse Antonsen, former director of CVPA’s University Art Gallery. “Marc taught them how to both master and challenge a process.”
“Marc was constantly open to new ideas and new art” Antonsen said. “We would often drive to New York City to visit museums and galleries, and each semester we rented a bus to bring students with us to experience modern and contemporary art.”
In the art community, Marc was a major force behind establishing the SouthCoast as a place for local artists to practice, work, and bring art to others. Marc and his wife opened a studio on Cove Street in New Bedford with three other artists in the late 1990s and started a holiday sale, now known widely as “Open Studios” on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The St. Pierres also operated Gallery 65 until Marc’s retirement, and maintained studio space at Hatch Street Studios.
Marc is beloved among his family, friends, and art community colleagues. Wilkinson remarks that Marc never did anything halfway.
“His curiosity became focus, which became knowledge, which became work, which became achievement, which became legacy.”
Your contributions to the Marc St. Pierre Memorial Scholarship will support the establishment of an endowed fund that will allow Marc’s legacy to live in perpetuity at CVPA as it continues to train emerging artists on the SouthCoast.