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ABOUT JOHN PAI

John Pai’s childhood was defined by constant migration between places, his parents moving back and forth to South Korea over the course of World War II and the Korean War. Born in Seoul in 1937, Pai immigrated to the U.S. at age 11, though his parents returned to Korea shortly after. He was marked as an artistic talent early on, from his first solo exhibition at age of 15 at the Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, West Virginia, to his rapid rise as the youngest ever professor at the Pratt Institute. 

Pai ascended to this latter honor in the midst of studying for his MFA in Sculpture at Pratt, just after completing his BFA in Industrial Design there in 1962. Across his undergraduate and graduate work, he simultaneously served as assistant to the Constructivism-adjacent sculptor Theodore Roszak. By 1965, he was named the Undergraduate Chair of Pratt’s Sculpture Department. Pai proved a talented educator, holding various chair positions at Pratt until 1972, when he shifted into a standard professorship in order to focus on his own artistic practice. While simultaneously nurturing generations of sculptors and fostering the burgeoning Korean artistic community in New York, Pai found success exhibiting his oftentimes unfolding, geometric sculptures across Korea. He continued to teach at Pratt until 2000. 

Recently, Pai has shown at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. He resides in Fairfield, Connecticut. 

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