Joe Marotta, photo by Simon Blundell

As the semester ends, we say a bittersweet goodbye to Professor Joe Marotta as he retires after 40 years of teaching photography in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Utah.

Professor Marotta started at the University of Utah in 1978, and has run the photography program for the same amount of time. Joe was chair of the department from 1988-1993, during which he secured the largest endowment the department has ever received, from the Christensen family. This endowment funds our visiting artist and art historian lecture series every year, exposing our students to different ideas and methods of contemporary art, and enriching their education.

As head of the Photography Emphasis area in the department, Professor Marotta has created a dynamic and rigorous program which blends traditional craft and contemporary Ideas. Joe originally came from the New York area and brought his unique style and aesthetics to the school and classroom in 1978 when he was hired to establish photography as its own fine arts discipline. Since that time, he has influenced literally countless students – many who are now artists and educators both in public schools and in universities and colleges. He saw the discipline of photography through many changes, including its transition to a digital process.

In the words of Joe’s former student Abbey Hepner, who is now a professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, upon recently presenting Joe with the Honored Educator Award at the Society for Photographic Education Regional Conference:

“Joe has a way of igniting passion and curiosity in his students. He finds potential in everyone and channels his energy to help it blossom. He’s soft-spoken and articulate and it’s easy to hold onto his every word because he is both wise and poetic. … Joe recognizes a reverent beauty and reminds his students about the important act of looking, inquiring, engaging, and questioning the world around us.”

Congratulations on your retirement, Joe, you will be missed!

Photo of Joe Marotta by Simon Blundell