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In Memoriam: Larry W. Holmes

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Campus community remembers noted artist, department chairperson

​Larry W. Holmes

​​

​Larry W. Holmes, professor emeritus of art in a 2004 portrait​

Larry W. Holmes, professor emeritus of art and former chairperson of the then-Department of Art, died on July 28, 2022. He was 79.

Prof. Holmes joined the University of Delaware faculty in 1973, and he served as chairperson of the then-Department of Art from 1982 until 1992, when he returned to full-time teaching. He later headed the department’s graduate and undergraduate painting programs and founded its study abroad program in Florence, Italy.

In 2003, the College of Arts and Sciences presented Prof. Holmes with its Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, and when the retired in 2004, the University honored him with a 40-year retrospective exhibition of his work, and he was named professor emeritus.

During his career, his work was featured in numerous individual and group art exhibitions across the country.

Some of Prof. Holmes’ colleagues shared recollections.

Greg Shelnutt, chairperson of the Department of Art and Design, said, “I mostly knew Larry by reputation, as he had retired well before I came to the University of Delaware. However, I know that he helped us out with our Italian study-abroad several times well after he'd retired. Having a reputation for excellence -- one that lingers well after one retires -- says so much; Larry had that kind of impact. I will cite 'strength by association,' in saying that so many faculty at UD whom I admire spoke of Larry so very highly. I know he will be missed.”

Priscilla Smith, retired associate professor of art and design, joined the UD faculty when Prof. Holmes was chair of the department. “His support, good humor and steady hand of leadership can never be understated nor forgotten,” she said. “Through his fierce vision and advocacy, he spoke truth to power on our behalf, and the department became a known entity in the esoteric world of university art departments nationwide. He gave us a voice, a chance; he changed my life. He is not gone, just away for a while and never forgotten.”

Robert Straight, professor emeritus of art and design, recalled Prof. Holmes as an accomplilshed artist who was dedicated to his studio practice. “As a painter, Larry was a role model for many of his students who continue their own studio endeavors . He demonstrated to them through his practice what it means to be a serious, dedicated artist. Larry continued his own artistic work right up to the time of his death. During his life, Larry had over 30 solo exhibitions and was included in a vast number of group exhibits. His work was represented by Jack Meier Gallery in Houston, Texas, Littlejohn/Sternau and Littlejohn/Smith galleries in New York City ,and the Osuna Gallery, Washington D.C. His work is also included in multiple public collections. If you visit the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, the first thing you’ll encounter is one of Larry’s constructed paintings in the entrance to the museum. Larry left his mark on our world with his art and with the many students that comprise the University of Delaware art family.”

Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Prof. Holmes received both bachelor of fine arts and master of science degrees from Kansas State College of Pittsburg, as well as a master of fine arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Prof. Homes is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Kathy, his daughter, Phoebe, son-in law, Matt, and granddaughters, Aurora and Rosalind.

To read his obituary or leave online condolences, visit Edward L. Collins Jr. Funeral Home.​

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