Joseph Fitzpatrick teaching at his Saturday art class at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh. (Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Online).

Teachers play a critical role in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. One teacher who impacted the lives of his students was art teacher Joseph Fitzpatrick of Pittsburgh, PA.

Joseph Fitzpatrick was a well-known local artist who taught art classes in high school and extracurricular weekend art classes at the Carnegie Institute. Many of his students would go on to become well-known artists: students and past Scholastic Award winners included Philip Pearlstein, Mel Bochner and Andy Warhol. He eventually became art supervisor for Pittsburgh Public Schools. In fact, looking back at past Scholastic Art Award winners from Pittsburgh over the years, we regularly come across Joseph Fitzpatrick’s name, listed as his students’ teacher.

Students remembered his passion, but also his dedication to teaching. One of Joseph Fitzpatrick’s past students, Emil Sauer, recalled the impact Joseph Fitzpatrick had on her artistic development from an article on Carnegie Museum Online. “You can’t teach creativity, that’s true. But in being creative around people, it provides a kind of instruction that goes beyond mere technique—it awakens that creativity in others. And that’s what these instructors did…. Fitzpatrick was so enthusiastic onstage—if I was drowsy, within a few minutes I’d be wide awake. He always had the attention of the whole room. That requires real mastery.”

Joseph Fitzpatrick worked as an art teacher in Pittsburgh area schools for over 30 years, from the 1930s through the 1970s. He died of heart failure in 1994.

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