A lifetime's work on display at Dartmouth Cultural Center

Oct 23, 2020

It is never an easy task to encapsulate more than four decades of work, especially when it comes to the abstract prints and photographs of the late Marc St. Pierre.

With a selection of the South Coast artist’s works dating back to 1978 now on display as part of the The Dartmouth Cultural Center’s latest socially distanced exhibition, the center attempted to do just that.

“It was certainly an interesting hanging session,” DCC president Jill Law said. “It’s a lot of great work on display.”

Born in Cochrane, Ontario, Canada, St. Pierre grew up in Québec City where he would eventually get his BFA from Laval University in 1976. 

After graduating, he spent that fall studying printmaking with the English abstract expressionist Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris — the same art school and studio attended by acclaimed sculptor Joan Miró. 

In 1979, after receiving his master’s degree from Southern Illinois University, St. Pierre arrived in New Bedford to become a printmaking instructor at the Swain School of Design. When the small private school merged with UMass Dartmouth in 1988, he worked as a professor of printmaking and photography until his retirement in 2017.

According to his wife Nicole, St. Pierre was still working on new pieces at his New Bedford studio up until his death in late 2019.

“When we were renovating our Dartmouth home, he couldn’t wait to get back to the studio,” she said. “He probably would have been there all the time during this pandemic.” 

She added that she was very surprised to see how many former colleagues and students came out to see her husband’s work.

“I didn’t know he touched so many people,” she said.

Former UMass Dartmouth student Evan DeMarzo said St. Pierre was “an amazing instructor and artist” who was always willing to help his students reach their potential. 

“Any kind of inspiration that you needed  — he was always there to kind of give you that little lightbulb,” he said. “Class time would be over and he’d spend an extra hour or two chatting and helping with your work.” 

Mattapoisett resident and UMass Dartmouth professor Adrain Tio said he thought the center held a wonderful retrospective on his colleague’s work. He said he was especially drawn to St. Pierre’s use of geometry in his prints and paintings.

“It’s like looking at a cityscape,” Tio said. “It’s all so topographic.”

Jovietthe Ramos, another of St. Pierre’s UMass students, said she was a big fan of her professor’s photos. She recalled that she once unknowingly dug up one of his rejected pictures from a trash bin at the school’s art studio.

“I thought it was so beautiful so I picked it out of the trash,” Ramos said. “I didn’t even know it was his until I showed it to him.”

The exhibition will run through Nov. 16 by appointment only. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

No more than six people will be allowed inside the center at a time, and masks will be required for entry.