In Remembrance: Art Professor Ralph Knasinski
Knasinski taught a wide range of courses in the art department, including sculpture, drawing, and painting. In a drawing course in the early 1990s, he first introduced students to the computer as an alternative tool. He later developed a popular digital art course in the early years of desktop computing.
“I don’t like the term computer art,” he told Beloit College Magazine in a 1994 article about the course. “It assumes the computer is making the art. The computer is just another tool, no different from paint brush or pencil.”
At age 6, Knasinski moved with his family from a farm in Tomahawk, Wis., to a tough neighborhood in Milwaukee, where he recalled feeling that he had to hide his interest in art and sneak around to visit art museums. He eventually worked for an architecture firm before enrolling in college at age 35. He earned his bachelor’s degree in art, his master’s degree in painting, and his Master of Fine Arts in sculpture —all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Amanda Browder’98, a Brooklyn-based artist who happened to be on campus serving as the Ferrall Artist in Residence when she heard of Knasinski’s passing, described him as an early mentor. She called him “an artist, an architect, a dreamer, and a teacher who inspired students to push forward in making larger and more ambitious artworks. He was one of the first professors who helped me understand how to think big, and to not give up, even if I was just a student. He was an advocate for creative arts, and many of us will miss his laugh, his strength, and his love of making artwork.”