John Silk Deckard Biography

John Silk Deckard





John Silk Deckard was born in Erie in 1940, and studied locally with renowned painter and teacher Joseph Plavcan. He won a National Scholastic scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later attended Edinboro State College and Carnegie-Mellon University. Since the mid-Sixties his works have been exhibited in galleries across America and in Europe. He died in Erie on June 7, 1994 at the age of 55.


In 1965 Deckard was selected by the Associated American Artists in New York City to take part in his first major exhibition, A New Generation of American Printmakers. His work was also included in the Whitney Museum of American Art's Annual Exhibition 1966: Contemporary Sculpture and Prints. He was invited to show in the 1965 and 1967 Annual Exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and in the 1965 and 1966 Boston Printmakers Annual Print Exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. These years mark Deckard's most active period, during which he exhibited his work widely, including at the Brooklyn Museum, De Cinque Gallery, the Museum of Art at Penn State University, and the Mickelson Gallery in Washington, DC.

Though early on he demonstrated facility with the different media of drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture, by the 1970's sculpture had become his primary means of expression. His work is in a number of private and public collections including the National Gallery of Art, Ackland Art Museum-University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rose Art Museum-Brandeis University, PPG Industries, Cincinnati Art Museum, Sheldon Swope Art Museum, DePauw University, The Free Library of Philadelphia, Wichita Art Museum, and Erie Art Museum.

His work focused on the human figure. “Man,” Deckard said, “is the most dangerous species on earth. His only hope for salvation is himself.”