On This Day in IUPUI History: November 9, 1982

November 9, 1982. 

On this day, city dignitaries dedicated a 33-foot-tall stainless-steel sculpture, "Totem," in the White River State Park. The ten-thousand-pound art work was fabricated locally by the firm, Mitchum-Schaefer, Inc.

The artist who created the sculpture was Rinaldo Paluzzi (1927-2013). Born in Pennsylvania, after service in the United States Navy he matriculated at the Art School of the John Herron Art Institute (now the Herron School of Art and Design of IUPUI), where he studied from 1948 to 1950. He then studied art in Rome for a year, returning in 1951. He received a B.F.A. from Herron in 1953. He stayed on in Indianapolis, earning an M.F.A. in 1957. He received a $2,000 Tiffany prize at graduation.

According to The Herron Chronicle, a history of the art school, Paluzzi was surprised at receiving the award. "A mere eight years before," notes the Chronicler, "he had been at home in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, discharged from the Navy, with no high school diploma, no clear prospects, and no interest in art at all." It was the suggestion of his older brother, Guarino Paluzzi, a Herron student, that he employ the G.I. Bill education benefit for veterans to attend the school with him. Herron Director Donald Mattison had accepted the younger "Randy" Paluzzi based on a portfolio of artworks prepared by big brother Guarino! The younger "Paluzzi recalled that his first drawings in [Herron professor] Harry Davis' class were 'terrible,'" notes the Chronicler.

Since studying at Herron, Paluzzi became a prominent and internationally known sculptor with works found and exhibited around the world. Since 1963 he made Madrid, Spain, his home.

"Totem," the work dedicated in 1982, today sits prominently in White River State Park, seen and enjoyed by thousands of Indianapolis residents and visitors to downtown.

Randy Paluzzi (center) with Sarah Burns and Bill Robertson, 1960 UA24-003384  

To learn more about the many distinguished artists who studied and taught at Herron, please consult IUPUI Special Collections and Archives speccoll@iupui.edu.

Updated Nov 09, 2018 by Editor Name Missing