Students remember professor as art and ceramics enthusiast
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 20:02
Victor Spinski was a beloved and valued professor during his time teaching art at the university. He expanded the ceramics department in the fine arts program and was recognized for his own accomplishments as an artist before passing away at the age of 72 on Jan. 21.
Spinski died of a stroke while surrounded by family and friends in his home in Newark. He is survived by his wife, Sally Van Orden, his son, Tristan Spinski and his daughter-in-law, Sarah Spinski.
Before coming to the university as a ceramics professor, Spinski earned his bachelor’s degree in Russian Literature at Emporia State University. After college, he served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, where he sustained serious injuries in combat and had to undertake months of rehabilitation.
After his recovery, Spinski attended Indiana University and earned his Masters of Fine Arts in ceramics. In 1968, he moved to Newark to begin his 38-year career teaching for the university’s art department, according to art professor and coordinator of the Masters of Fine Arts program Robert Straight. Spinski inspired students and professors with his passion and determination to make the art program exceptional, Straight said.
“He put the ceramics area on the map,” Straight said. “We have one of the largest ceramics facilities on the East Coast. This was started by Victor.”
Allison Haug, 30, of Wilmington, a former ceramics student of Spinski’s, said he was incredibly influential to his students, many of whom he mentored. He gave his students a new perspective and guided them into doing the best work they could, she said. He was always available for advice or help for his students, even after retirement.
“I feel he was my biggest supporter during my time at Delaware and beyond,” Haug said. “I remember all the great times in the studio, a beer at Deer Park or around the dinner table. He was always welcoming, willing to share his wealth of knowledge about ceramics and the world.”
Straight said he met Spinski more than 30 years ago at Connecticut College. He said his colleagues remember Spinski primarily for the support he gave his students, his sense of humor and his passion for ceramics.
Straight said Spinski not only expanded the ceramics program but was also a distinguished ceramics artist in the art community as well. He said Spinski specialized in the genre of trompe l’oeil or “fool the eye,” a type of ceramic art used where the artist makes the object look so similar to a real-life object that it does not appear to be made of clay.
Spinski’s work has been exhibited and is in permanent collections across the United States and all over the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Design, the American Craft Museum and the Wustum Museum of Fine Arts.