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Paul Ryan

Professor of Studio Art
Chair of the Art and Art History Department, and Co-Director/Curator of the James K. Schmidt Gallery




  • MFA, Painting, School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • BA, Principia College


A painter and art critic, Paul Ryan joined the faculty at Principia College in fall 2017. From 1992 through spring 2016, he taught full time in the Department of Art and Art History at Mary Baldwin University, where he is now Professor Emeritus of Art. He was also the gallery director at Mary Baldwin University from 1993 through 2016. Paul taught critical theory in the MFA program of the Department of Painting and Printmaking in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University from 2005 through 2016.

"To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work."  --Mary Oliver


Paul's professional creative work focuses on painting and drawing. As an abstract painter, his studio practice combines a natural attentiveness to formal problems with a reflective consideration of conceptual ideas. He has also been writing about contemporary art and publishing in a variety of arts publications since 1989. He has been professionally organizing and curating exhibitions since 1993.


Since 1983 Paul has exhibited his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions at a variety of venues throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions, including Marion Gallery, Rockefeller Arts Center at SUNY Fredonia; Hartell Gallery at Cornell University; The McLean Project for the Arts; The University Gallery at The University of South Carolina; The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; the Moss Art Center at Virginia Tech; and, the Taubman Museum of Art. He is a contributing editor for Art Papers magazine and his writing has appeared in Art Papers, Sculpture magazine, and Art in America magazine.

Paul’s studio work is represented by Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, Virginia.


  • College Art Association (CAA)


  • Paul is a recipient of The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship in Painting in 2016–2017 and 2009–2010.
  • He was also awarded two Mednick Fellowships by the Virginia Association of Independent Colleges to support his studio practice: one in 2014–2015 and one in 1996–1997.


Recent solo exhibitions:

  • Reynolds Gallery, “Keeping Time: Paintings by Paul Ryan,” solo exhibition, Richmond, Virginia, April 12 – May 24, 2019. 
  • Hunt Gallery, Mary Baldwin University and Staunton Augusta Art Center, “In Dialogue: Paul Ryan, Paintings 1985 – 2018,” solo survey exhibition across two venues, Staunton, Virginia, January 7 – February 9, 2019.
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, "consuming illusions," VMFA professional fellowship exhibition, Richmond, Virginia, February–August 6, 2017

Recent publication: 

  • Web exclusive: online review of "Terry Adkins: Resounding" at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis), Art Papers Magazine, January 2021:
  • “A ‘happy discomfort’: Harmonies of Variance within the Paintings of Sally Bowring, Janly Jaggard, Sae A Lee, and Joan Ranzini,” Exhibition essay for the exhibition: “Four Women Artists: Sally Bowring, Janly Jaggard, Sae A Lee, and Joan Ranzini,” at The Staunton Augusta Art Center, Staunton, Virginia, August 16 – September 21, 2019. 
  • Web exclusive: online review of “Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma” (Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, Missouri), Art Papers Magazine, digital issue, winter 2019:
  • “Curating the Grand Hotel: The Spirit of Cinema in Richard Carlyon’s Work,” Exhibition catalog essay for the exhibition, “Richard Carlyon: A Network of Possibilities,” at Reynolds Gallery, Richmond Virginia. January 19 – March 9, 2018.
  • Review of two exhibitions, "Drawing on the Left: Ben Shahn and the Art of Human Rights," organized by the Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and "Rudy Sheperd: We are all Travon Martin," organized by 1708 Gallery in Richmond, Virginia, appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Art Papers Magazine.
  • Recent curating: James K. Schmidt Gallery, Voney Art Center, Principia College:
  • “TEXTure: The Landscape Paintings of David Coughtry and Duncan Martin,” September 13 - October 22, 2022. Catalog.
  • “Spinning Straw into Gold: New Work by Linda Vredeveld,” October 19 – November 19, 2021. Catalog. 
  • “Air-to-Air: Jane Barrow in Conversation with Cheryl Wassenaar,” September 7 – October 9, 2021. Catalog. 2020 – 2021 
  • "Dreams Deferred: The Work of Rudy Shepherd," February 16 - April 30, 2021 (online exhibition). Catalog. 
  • "Conceptual Reveries: A Survey of Multi-media Works by Jim R. Sconyers, Jr.," November 3, 2020 - February 28, 2021 (online exhibition). Catalog.

Paul Ryan CV