With a 39-year teaching career at the Stamps School that began in 1981 with a visiting professorship, Lou Marinaro has been a guiding presence in the sculpture studio.
Serving as the Interim Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in 1999 and achieving the professional distinction of Professor in 2001, Marinaro is renowned for his expertise in figurative sculpture, drawing, and bronze casting.
Maintaining an active exhibition schedule regionally, nationally, and internationally, his work has been awarded funding from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Michigan Council for the Arts, the Tiffany Foundation for the Arts, and many others. With work included in a number of private and public collections, two of Marinaro’s sculptures are permanently installed on the U-M campus: Regeneration of Time and Wave Maker.
Marinaro’s teaching has also received recognition from the University of Michigan, including the Teaching Excellence Award (1989) and the University Undergraduate Teaching Award (1988, then called the “AMOCO Distinguished Teaching Award”). In addition to his duties at Stamps, Marinaro served as a Visiting Lecturer at the New York Academy of Art, New York, New York (1991-2001).
Reflecting on some of his favorite moments in the classroom, Marinaro offered: “Some of my favorite memories are of watching students' mouths agape at the site of molten metal. With trepidation they would pour bronze. Having them take part in the actual casting process was a wonderful experience to pass on.”
Marinaro also reflected on his time teaching life-size figure sculpture. “The experience for the student was, I think, life-altering in innumerable ways,” Marinaro said. “To construct with metal an armature and model a clay figure from life is a daunting task. All who chose to do it are elated and humbled in the process.”
Embracing an imaginative, interdisciplinary curriculum, Marinaro’s teaching has included an experimental offering in collaboration with the School of Music, Theatre & Dance and the College of Engineering to bring students from across disciplines into the foundry to design and create bronze bells for live performance.
“My task as a teacher was a way to return the fortunes that were granted me,” Marinaro said.
Additionally, Marinaro served as the Director of International Initiatives from 2002-2005, expanding our relationships with institutions around the globe and setting the stage for what was to become the Stamps International Experience as we know it today. His commitment continued beyond his administrative duties, developing international engagement courses in Florence, Italy and most recently in multiple locations in India to explore cultural, religious, and creative depictions found in Hindu temples.
“Traveling and teaching our students in Italy and India was for me a way of sharing the culture and art of these great and grand countries,” Marinaro said.
“I am thankful for Lou’s ongoing commitment to sustaining and expanding traditional creative practices, as well as the curiosity and cultural sensitivity he has brought to our international engagement activities,” said Guna Nadarajan, Dean of the Stamps School. “ His willingness to take on a range of service to the school, his kind advice, support, and friendship will be missed.”
Marinaro reports that his post-retirement plans include continued work in his Ann Arbor studio and travel with his partner, the painter Margaret Davis.
“I will miss the world in which the Socratic method and empirical techniques are practiced and employed,” Marinaro said. “I will remember the talented students whose imagination and work becomes articulated, yielding at times significant achievements. I will miss their enthusiasm, excitement and their willingness to experiment with forms, techniques, and materials that were outside of their preconceived notions about art and design.”