By Asha Tompkins, Arts and Culture Editor
An artist, a devoted teacher, an innovator, a close colleague and a brilliant mind were all things that made up Raphael Diluzio, a USM associate professor of digital art and design. It was with great sadness that the USM community learned of his sudden passing over the weekend of April 16.
In a community-wide email, Jeannine Uzzi, the Provost and Vice President for academic affairs wrote that “Professor Diluzio’s approach to art pushed conventional boundaries, combining traditional painting and drawing with digital and interactive media.”
“Most recently, his work moved into the areas of creativity and entrepreneurship,” said Uzzi. “Known nationally and internationally for his TED Talk ‘The Seven Steps of Creative Thinking,’ Professor Diluzio recently launched a new USM course called ‘Cr8,’ which challenged students to break through personal and intellectual barriers to become innovative thinkers.”
The Provost stated that “Diluzio’s unique approach to art and creativity inspired not only art students but also students in STEM fields and many other academic disciplines.”
Kelly Hrenko, the Art Department Head, said that Raphael was a funny guy. He loved to laugh, eat good food and talk.
“Raphael was a kind and generous person,” said Hrenko. “He worked very hard to be the best teacher and artist he could be.”
Carolyn Eyeler, Director of Exhibitions at the USM Art Galleries, said that Diluzio was a “wonderfully free thinker and creator.”
“Once, within fifteen minutes, I went from being mad at Raphael for bringing in an artwork late for the faculty show – that was about to open – to being in stitches from his humor and genuinely touched at his pitching-in to help set up the reception,” Eyeler said.
According to the Provost, “Professor Diluzio taught at USM for seven years after having taught at the University of Maine, Webster University, Savannah College of Art and Design, the University of Wyoming and South Eastern Louisiana University.”
Diluzio’s mission was to incorporate art and creative processes into all content areas, disciplines, jobs and fields. He was recruited from the University of Maine at Orono to design and build the Ci2 Lab on the Portland campus.
“The Ci2 lab was one of the first makerspaces in the area,” said Hrenko. “That really made art and entrepreneur connections. Students dreamed up ideas and had the support to build them, market them and see them grow.”
Diluzio typically taught three courses a semester. With each one, he made sure to integrate his love for teaching and working with USM students.
The memorial was held on Friday, April 26 with remarks and a singing bowl tribute in the Ci2 lab.
According to Uzzi, for anyone who has been impacted, “The counseling center and campus spiritual leaders are available to anyone who needs support at this difficult time. Please do not hesitate to contact the University Counseling Center at 207-780-4050 to schedule an appointment in Gorham (156 Upton) or in Portland (105 Payson Smith).”
Diluzio showed all he came across that they have the power to innovate and create. That passion did and will continue to make an impact on the USM community.