Award-winning artist and Walsh University professor Diane Belfiglio is being remembered for her talents, kindness and campus contributions.
Belfiglio died suddenly Saturday at age 66. She was a lifelong resident of Plain Township.
She was recently recognized by the Ohio Arts Council for her paintings, which have been exhibited locally and across the state, including at current and recent exhibitions.
“She was an amazing artist, she was an amazing mother,” Belfiglio’s sister, Victoria Belfiglio, said Monday. “She worked harder than anybody else I know. She worked so hard and was very successful, both professionally and in the love of her family and her children. And her little granddaughter was the light of her life.”
Public calling hours will be noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Canton, 2585 Easton St. NE in Plain Township. Belfiglio had been the current president of the congregation, her family said. A private service by invitation only will follow.
Walsh University President Dr. Tim Collins said Belfiglio was a conduit for students to learn about art, which “from the Catholic worldview, is integral in our education because it is universal, transcending time and space, race, age, and politics.”
Collins said her “commitment to keeping spirits high with our students is legendary,” adding that “she taught her students communication skills, creative expression, and how to feel the exhilaration of completing something new, original and beautiful through art.
“The state of Ohio, our local community, and Cav Nation has lost a wonderful teacher and person … she is gone but will not be forgotten.”
A 1974 graduate of Oakwood High School, Belfiglio received her bachelor of fine arts degree in drawing, painting and graphics from Ohio State University in 1978, and a master’s degree in painting from Syracuse University in 1980.
After having taught at Syracuse, Kent State University and the University of Akron, she joined Walsh’s faculty in 2000, where she received numerous faculty awards.
At Walsh, she was assistant art professor and also served as studio coordinator. As adviser for Walsh’s art club, Belfiglio designed and directed 15 community art installments on campus and throughout the community, the university said.
Her own artwork varied in painting style, including oil pastel on paper, acrylic on canvas and watercolor on paper.
Earlier this year, Belfiglio received a 2023 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in the visual arts two-dimensional category.
She was one of 75 Ohio artists and among 33 painters awarded $5,000 each. Belfiglio’s submission featured 12 of her watercolor paintings created between 2020 and 2022. She also received the award in 1981.
Her paintings are available for viewing and purchase at https://www.belfiglio.com, Victoria Belfiglio said.
Belfiglio’s paintings were exhibited in numerous shows and at many galleries and museums, including in more than 200 group and solo shows regionally, nationally and internationally.
Her work is currently being featured in a solo show at the Zanesville Museum of Art in the Linn Auditorium through Aug. 12. Additionally, her paintings had been accepted into the Ohio Artist Registry 2023 Juried Exhibition, which was on display until last week at the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Her works are permanently displayed at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Tokyo, Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown and the Canton Museum of Art, Walsh University said.
During a 2021 interview with The Canton Repository, she explained why she loves art.
“When you’re a professional artist, it’s a calling that you’re like born to this, but I did have some seminal moments as a child,” Belfiglio said. “When I was 7 years old, my first piece of art was published in Highlights children’s magazine — I still have the magazine.”
Recalling being a student in Plain Local Schools, Belfiglio said: “I was just drawing with a regular pencil and couldn’t get much dark out, and (an art teacher) put an ebony pencil in my hand, and when I figured what that pencil could do, I was completely hooked. … And I just kept wanting to draw all the time. I wanted to create all the time, and when I went to declare my major at Ohio State, I declared an art major.
“… Making art is somewhat of a meditative experience for me,” she said. “So that sense of beauty and calm, I think, comes across in my work.”
An outpouring of sadness and fond memories were expressed on social media, including by fellow artists, friends and others in the creative community.
The Canton Museum of Art posted a statement on behalf of the staff and board.
Calling Belfiglio a “sweet and talented friend, patron and mentor,” the museum said she “was an amazing contributor to our education programs and a constant presence through many exhibitions, a treasured part of our collection, a treasure to the Canton/Stark County arts and creative community.
“Her bright smile and joyful outlook will be missed by so many. Diane always saw the flowers.”
Canton-based artist David Sherrill, whose paintings are shipped and sold across the country and internationally, echoed those sentiments.
“The world lost a very beautiful person,” he posted online. “I have nothing but happy memories of Diane Belfiglio. I’m just heartbroken to hear that bright light has gone out.”
Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 and firstname.lastname@example.org