Governor to honor renowned art prof
Mauricio Lasansky, a groundbreaker in intaglio printmaking, will receive the state's highest award.
Portraits with hollow, close-set eyes stare back at those admiring the printmaking art of Mauricio Lasansky, a UI professor emeritus of art and art history.
Gov. Tom Vilsack and UI President Mary Sue Coleman will honor Lasansky today from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. on the Pentacrest with the Iowa Award, the highest award the governor can give to a citizen of Iowa.
Lasansky, who came to the UI in 1944, was a pioneer printmaker who developed one of the first University printmaking departments in the nation, said Virginia Myers, a professor of art and art history.
"In a way, we changed the field in this country," Lasansky said. "It became the largest art school in the United States. We were always No. 1 or 2 for 20 years, in the 40's and 50's very prestigious."
Myers, who came to the UI in 1955 to study with Lasansky, said, "He was one of the major foremost primtmaker artists in the country, who dedicated his life to teaching and printmaking at the University level."
Intaglio printmaking, an art form Lasansky uses, involves etching and engraving on a flat piece of copper. The engraved copper plate is used to inject paint onto a canvass through a press, Myers explained.
"Printmaking is a major art form, and many uiversities do not include art history courses," she said. "He is remembered with a good deal of affection by the students he taught."
Before the 84-year-old Lasansky, a native of Argentina, came to the United States in 1943, he won the Guggenheim Fellowship, a prestigious art fellowship from New York. Lasansky said he has been awarded with more of these fellowships than anyone in this country.
When he realized he had the chance to come to the United States, he said, "I'll go tomorrow." And, he said, "I wanted to see the museums . . . and there was only one in Argentina."
Lasansky has donated more than 300 of his works to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and has a room devoted to his works at the UI Museum of Art, said Elizabeth Buck, director of administration for Vilsack.
"He won because of his outstanding legacy and art education," she said. "He is very famous and not just in Iowa but nationally too."
On the day of his 40th anniversary of teaching, Lasansky retired from the UI. Since then, Lasansky said, he has been "working like hell" in his studio, 216 E. Washington Street.
Phil Lasansky, one of Mauricio and Emilia Lasansky's six children, said his father's hard work and love for the arts was contagious.
"It was a disease we were all infected with as kids," Phil Lasansky said.
When Mauricio Lasansky talked about the Iowa Award, he said, "I'm happy. At my age, you are happy with anything."
Reprinted from The Daily Iowan,
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