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In Memory of John Reuter-Pacyna, Teacher, SAICAll artwork

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John Reuter-Pacyna, a long time faculty member in the Department of Visual Communications, passed away in December 2004. John is most famous among students at SAIC for stripping the process of two-dimensional design to its basics: point, line, shape. His classes emphasized the infinite variety of solutions available to the artist with the availability of the simplest elements. Faculty from other departments would refer students to his class, as the essential place to learn composition. He kept the VisCom hallways filled with music and positive energy, finding the beauty of simplicity in his own work and the work of his students.

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I met John shortly before I started teaching here and was immediately impressed by how much he knew about graphic design and by the curriculum he had developed over his 20-plus years of teaching design. As time went on and we became friends, I realized that there was a lot of knowledge and insight to be gained from him. As I walk down the hallway on the eleventh floor and pass room 1112, I expect to see John there sitting at the front of the room with the boom box playing the music choice of the day. He would be showing a student why it might be better to place that dot or line in a different position than where they have it, or instructing the class on how to use the organic grid. Room 1112 will always be ãJohn’s classroomä to me, because that is where he would be every semester imparting his knowledge to a new group of students. He was a dear friend, a wonderful teacher and always a gentleman.

Mary Jo Krysinski
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Visual Communication

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Every once in a while John walked into my classroom or came walking down the hall from his room on the 11th floor proudly holding up a particularly successful composition of dots, lines or geometric forms that one of his students produced in his Intro to VisCom course. I came to fully understand his enthusiasm and love for composition and collage when I first had the opportunity to see his beautiful works at the Roy Boyd gallery. Johnâs contribution to the VisCom department was invaluable. He was a very popular and well-liked teacher who was able to teach his students to see using a combination of well-thought-out, systematic and rigorous assignments, a caring and nurturing attitude toward students who worked hard and showed interest, and the ability to loosen things up with silly puns and jokes that he unexpectedly dropped on people.

For almost 20 years, John has been a great friend, advisor, listener and colleague. I miss him very much.

Daniel Morgenthaler
Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Visual Communication

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Thanks to John, I learned not only how to create dramatic composition of black lines and dots on a 5×5 bristol board square, I also learned the words to every Talking Heads song from the tapes he would play in class every week. He had a wonderful way of creating a sense of community within the department by warmly greeting each individual that passed by his classroom. His passing is a great loss to the school and is felt especially on the 11th floor of the Sharp Building.

Alexa Joyce
Senior, Department of Visual Communication

Images by John Reuter-Pacyna Courtesy of the Roy Boyd Gallery

April 2005

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