Retired VCU art professor, Richard Carlyon, dies

Richard Carlyon.

Photo courtesy VCU Creative Services
Richard Carlyon. Photo courtesy VCU Creative Services

Richard Carlyon, a Virginia Commonwealth University Presidential Medallion recipient who helped shape VCU’s School of the Arts, died on Friday, Jan. 20. He was 75.

A New York native, Carlyon came to Virginia in 1950 to attend the then-Richmond Professional Institute, the precursor to VCU. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1953 and began teaching at the university in 1955. He later earned a master’s degree in 1963.

The professor emeritus, who retired in 1996, taught myriad courses, including painting, art history, communication arts, dance and sculpture for more than 40 years. He also received many honors during his career, including the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from the College Art Association of America in 1993 and the Theresa Pollack Prize for Excellence in the Arts in 2001.

Most recently, during VCU’s December Commencement VCU President Eugene P. Trani presented Carlyon with the Presidential Medallion, which is awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions by a member of the university community. The award also recognizes extraordinary achievement in the world of learning.

“Richard’s sense of adventure and investigation and his experimental nature somehow permeated the School of the Arts,” said Joseph H. Seipel, senior associate dean of academic affairs for the School of the Arts. “In some ways it helped form who we are as a school.

“He had no fear when it came to approaching his artwork,” Seipel said. “And I think that that kind of fearlessness and just love of the unknown and the ability to put yourself out of your comfort zone and make art out of it, is something that has stayed with the school and is in a way a component of our school.”

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