Sculptor and Professor Emeritus of Art Jack Squier, MFA ’52, who mentored and inspired students over five decades of teaching and left a lasting legacy of public sculpture on campus, died Dec. 31 at his home in Florida. He was 88.
Squier graduated from Indiana University in 1950, earned his Cornell MFA two years later and began teaching at Cornell in the early 1950s. He was appointed professor of sculpture in 1965 and retired from teaching in 2004.
He was “an accomplished artist and sculptor who expected excellence from himself and his students,” associate professor of art Roberto Bertoia said. "I remember his humor, empathy and great intelligence. He was a gifted sculptor who was always available to counsel and help his students. … He was a great mentor and friend and will be greatly missed.”
Squier often avoided the limelight but was recognized for his impact on the university, the College of Architecture, Art and Planning and on the art world. In the mid-1960s, he guided undergraduate architecture students in the creation of the Sculpture Garden in what is now Cornell Plantations’ F.R. Newman Arboretum, constructed in 1981-82.
Squier was the subject of a 40-year retrospective at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art in 1993. Many of his modernist, abstract sculptures were created in the Foundry and exhibited on campus over the years. His unique sculptural style in bronze, wood, polyester resin and other media reflected his fascination with ancient cultures and interest in experimentation.
He also was honored during Reunion 2007, concurrent with the reinstallation on campus (after a two-year period of conservation) of Jacques Lipchitz’s iconic sculpture “The Song of the Vowels.” Squier helped arrange the gift of the sculpture to Cornell University Library in 1962, following a retrospective exhibit that he organized for the cubist artist’s 70th birthday in 1961.
Last spring, the Johnson Museum presented the exhibition “Jack Squier: The Arts Make Life Worthwhile,” organized by Lee Rice ’16 with assistance from Museum Director Stephanie Wiles.
He showed his work internationally and has sculptures in several public collections – including those of the Johnson Museum; the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.; Harvard University’s Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Instituto de Arte Contemporaneo in Lima, Peru.
Squier also taught at the Ogunquit (Maine) School of Painting and Sculpture and the University of California at Berkeley.
His survivors include his wife, Jane.