He has been called a true padre dell'Arte, a father of the arts. For Joseph Nicola DeLauro, the phrase is uniquely fitting.
He is indeed, the parental figure for academically founded art in Ontario. He began the University of Windsor's Fine Arts Department in 1960, and gained for the institution its right to grant a bachelor of fine arts degree - the first such degree-granting privilege won by an Ontario university. Perhaps most important, he has in 21 caring years in Windsor shepherded more than 800 students through the demanding maze of discipline, taste, and scholarship, and helped shoehorn them on to careers beyond the university.
Born to Italian parents in 1916 in New Haven, Connecticut, Mr. DeLauro's work would seem to indicate his unbounding devotion to, and the creative-sparking nature he finds in, the archetypal figures from the far past and the Bible.
Especially noteworthy have been his Crucifixions, Pietas, Virgins, assorted saints, baptismal fonts, stone reliefs and metal grilles, and stained glass windows, all alive with religious symbolism, executed in a variety of materials, techniques and sizes, for churches, convents, schools and other largely religious institutions.
When asked about the large body of religious work, Mr. DeLauro observes, "Commissions have come from churches and some institutions which, thankfully, do not necessarily like to buy from catalogs. And the Bible has always moved me. I believe it can give you very special insights into humanity."
"But you notice, my portrait busts are not religious and my musicians and dancing figures and geometric shapes have no obvious connection with any particular group or set of beliefs."
"The three figures I did for the Jewish Community Centre in Windsor - now that's not a religious work, although it is associated with a particular philosophy. Those statues express suffering, a condition common to all humanity..."
That striking work, which bears in Hebrew the word "Remember", is typical of the fleeting and sometimes terrifying forces that he seems able to capture and hold for an eternity in his most expressive and dramatic works.
"I do have a certain faith in humanity," he says. "Of course, to have that one has to have faith in one's self. You must begin with yourself."
It's the relaxed philosophy of a man whose art can now be found in important private collections and in busy public places. In Canada. The United States. And abroad.
Aside from Ontario and Michigan, the border lands he calls home, his work is sited in Ohio, Texas, Minnesota, Maine, in Iowa and Illinois, and off the continent in Italy and in Ecuador.
His art, like his untrappable personality, embraces everyone and everything - the spirit of a teacher whose classroom has become a whole region of the world, an artist whose work is for the ages.
Above text adapted from "Joseph Nicola DeLauro...An Appreciation" by David Richard Quintner
B.F.A. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1941
M.F.A. University of Iowa, Iowa, 1947
Four years of term scholarships (Yale)
Alice Kimball English Fellowship (Yale)
Tiffany Fellowship (Yale)
Elizabeth Pardee Scholarship (Yale)
Honorable Mention, Prix de Rome Competition, 1941
Second Prize, Detroit Ecclesiastical Art Guild, 1956
Member, National Sculpture Society
Fellowship in the Royal Society of the Arts, London, England
Honorary Membership, Michigan Society of Architects, 1979
Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Visual Arts awarded by the
Academy of Fine Arts of Salsonaggiore Terme, Parma, Italy, 1980
Professor of Art, Marygrove College, 1947-60
Professor of Art, University of Detroit, Architecture Department 1950-3
Professor of Art, Founder and Head of the Fine Arts Department, University of Windsor, 1960-73
1940 - Central Art Gallery, New York, NY
1941 - Yale University, New Haven, CT
1946 - Walker Art Gallery. Minnesota
1947 - University of Iowa, Iowa
1948 - Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan
1950 - University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1970 - Twentieth Biennale Del Fiorino, Florence, Italy
1973 - University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
(A retrospective exhibition celebrating the inauguration of the School of Visual Arts)
1977 - Reality Reflected, 44th Annual National Sculpture Society Exhibition, New York, NY
1981 - Retrospective, Windsor Art Gallery, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
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