Earl Pardon earned a B.F.A. degree in painting at the Memphis Academy of Arts in 1951, and that year he joined the faculty of Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. In 1959 he was awarded an M.F.A. degree in painting from Syracuse University. He taught at Skidmore from 1951 until 1989, except for the period from 1954 to 1955 when he served as director of design for Towle Silversmiths.
One of the pioneers of the post-World War II studio craft movement, in the early 1950s Pardon was instrumental in developing wide interest in art jewelry. Trained as a fine artist rather than in traditional jewelry making, he maintained an interest in painting and sculpture that influenced his work with metals, and vice versa. For much of his four-decade-long career, Pardon worked simultaneously as a painter, sculptor, and jewelry maker. Enamelling provided a logical means of integrating his interests in painting and studio jewelry. His intricuate arrangements of flat, colorful segments in brooches and neckpieces reveal his abiding interest in formal concerns.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)
Earl Pardon was instrumental in the development of the contemporary studio jewelry movement in America following World War II. Pardon was introduced to jewelry through a required crafts course he took while completing a degree in painting and described the experience as an “immediate love affair.” He identifies African tribal art, Cézanne, Picasso, and Zen painting and philosophy as strong influences in his work. A teacher, painter, sculptor, and craftsman, Pardon is noted for reviving the use of enamel in jewelry. His son, Tod Pardon, is also represented in the Luce Foundation Center.