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Joán Nylen Italiano, O.P.
March 13, 2018


Joán Nylen Italiano, O.P. 89, of West Boylston, Massachusetts passed away peacefully Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at Notre Dame Long Term Care Center with her children by her side.

Joán was born in Worcester. Her parents were the late Albert and Edith (Comstock) Nylen. Joán’s husband of 50 years, William Italiano, passed in 2011. She is survived by a son William S. Italiano, Jr of West Boylston and a daughter Michele (Italiano) Perla, her husband Frank and their children Rachele and Bryan all of West Boylston. She also leaves a sister, Audrey (Nylen) Wheeler, many nieces and nephews. Her sister, Nadine (Nylen) Johnston predeceased her.

She graduated from North High School in 1946. Joán went on to study at Siena Heights College, Adrian Michigan, graduating in 1950 with her Bachelor of Philosophy degree in Art. Joan was on the Dean’s List; elected by the faculty to the honor society and had a number of sculpture exhibits in the Toledo (Ohio) and Detroit Michigan. She continued at Siena Height College, Studio Angelico, and in 1956 completed her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture. Her postgraduate studies include residency through a Ford Fellowship with Nino Caruso, one of Italy’s outstanding sculptors, at the International Centre for Ceramics, Rome and Piet Rasanta, Italy.

While working on her Master’s Degree in 1952, Joán began teaching art at Rosarian Academy, West Palm Beach Florida. In 1956, she taught ceramics at Barry University, Miami Florida, while serving as Director of the Barry University Art Gallery. Joan returned to Worcester in 1959 to teach art at Classical High School and then Doherty High School. In 1969, Joán began as Associate Professor of Fine Arts at The College of the Holy Cross, making history as the first woman tenure track hire in the history of the College. She retired from that position in 1989.

Joán worked her entire life as a sculptor, actively exhibiting in regional and national shows, winning numerous awards in Sculpture, creating commissioned work, executing and consulting for many renovations of local churches during the years of the liturgical renewal, implemented by Pope John. She is represented in private collections and commissions in Miami Beach, Chicago, New York, Boston, Worcester, Adrian Michigan, and numerous other cities. Her commissions include Our Mother of Joy Fountain, Saint Vincent Hospital, commissioned by Cardinal Wright; Mural of the Last Supper Passionist Monastery, Shrewsbury; Ceramic and Wood Cross, The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Acton; Processional Crosses, Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Worcester; Stations of the Cross, Our Lady of Lourdes, Millbury, Rosiarian Academy and the Navy Base in Key West Florida; Ceramic Mural, Our Lady of Good Counsel, West Boylston; a large welded copper and bronze foundation for the Mary Manning Walsh Home in New York City.

Joán was an avid Catholic; a member of the Third Order Dominican’s (Lay Dominican of the Order of Preachers); a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel, West Boylston. Her professional membership include the New England Sculpture’s Association; the International Sculpture Society; and Copley Society of Boston. Joán is listed in the Women Artists in America II, in the Who’s Who in American Art, World Who’s Who of Women in Education, World’s Who’s of Women, and Who’s Who in the East.

Joán loved her lifetime of sculpture, teaching, travel and time with family. She especially cherished her time with her two grandchildren. The family would like to thank the staff and residents of The Notre Dame Long Term Care Facility for creating a caring environment surrounded by warm and compassionate people. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Studio Angelico, Siena Heights University.

A Funeral will be held Saturday, March 17th from FAY BROTHERS Funeral Home, 1 West Boylston St. with a Mass at 10:00 am at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 111 Worcester Street. Burial will follow in Mt. Vernon Cemetery. Visiting hours are Friday, March 16 from 4-7pm in the funeral home.

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Fay Brothers Funeral Home
1 West Boylston Street
West Boylston, MA 01583