Class act on canvas

Alum says his time in high school influenced him as an artist and as a man of faith.

During the mid-60s through to the late 70s, Detroit's Cass Corridor was the city's version of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury — home to a hodgepodge of counter-culture-types, progressive music, protest and politics along with a vibrant community of visual artists who managed to create what was Detroit's first major contemporary art movements: the Cass Corridor Movement.

One of those artists is Notre Dame alum Carlo Vitale, from the Class of 1974, who has been making a name for himself in the local and national art scenes for many years with his sometimes massive abstract pointillist compositions.

Born and raised in Detroit, he spent summers during his high school days and beyond working on a relative's farm in Michigan's thumb area. After graduating from Notre Dame High School, Vitale received his BFA and MFA degrees in painting from Wayne State University. 

He says that due in part to his time spent on the farm, his work has been influenced by agricultural themes along with the colorful imagery of his everyday life. 

"With my work, I try to generate the kinetic and optical effects that are conjured up from both my musical obsessions and the spirituality I find in the art process itself," he said.

Currently living in Macomb, Mich., where he maintains a studio (he also works out of a studio in Sandusky, Mich.), Vitale credits art classes at Notre Dame for helping to kick-start his more than four decades of success as a professional artist.

"My art teacher at Notre Dame, John Giordano, set up his studio classroom very much like college studios, which prepared me very well for my classes at Wayne State," he said. "The forces that drive an artist are deeply personal and, yes, spiritual. And they don't always involve 'typical career path' situations. Certain people, experiences and moments contribute to great paintings and I try to plug in to that energy."

He added that life situations that continue to influence his art can be as random as the time he was hit by lightning(!) to the Robert Frost poetry he learned about in Conrad Vachon's English class at NDHS.  

Faith also remains important to him.  

"Notre Dame was a natural continuation of my Catholic faith," he said. "I continue to support and integrate that faith into all things in my life, including, of course, my family and my art, which are hugely important to me."

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at