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Uniontown Herald-Standard: July 29, 2002


Uniontown Art Club 75th Anniversary Celebration: August 10, 2002


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: August 18, 2002

The Arts: Charleroi sculptor installs work for Uniontown Library

Sunday, August 18, 2002
By Dave Zuchowski

When I arrived at the Uniontown Library recently, Laura DeFazio's yet-to-be-dedicated sculpture was wrapped in plastic, sitting inert on a bench that'll be its permanent home. DeFazio, assistant professor of art and design at California University of Pennsylvania, recently completed the commissioned sculpture after being selected by the Uniontown Art Club to create a work to help mark its 75th anniversary.
Even before its Aug. 10 dedication, the plastic-wrapped statue was grabbing the community's attention. "People who walked by often stopped, gawked and did a double take when they first saw it," said Steve Petruska, the library's facilities supervisor. "Several people phoned in to ask if there was a dead body on the bench, and we even had a local undertaker call to make inquiries about what was going on."
Shortly after DeFazio arrived for our interview, she began unwrapping the statue for a photo shoot, giving me the opportunity to get a good look at the work that took her two years and more than 700 hours of work to complete.
Sitting on the bench, DeFazio's lovely, 20-something female figure is shown perched comfortably with her legs crossed, feet bare, with a long dress and equally long flowing hair. On her lap, an open book seems to have captured her complete attention.
"A former student of mine, Alyson Coccari Longanecker of Belle Vernon, posed for the sculpture," DeFazio said. "She has the sweet, demure look I wanted as well as a slightly self-conscious demeanor. She's also beautiful and has a somewhat exotic appearance."
DeFazio sculpted her statue with the model sitting next to it in the same pose. She chose to have her shown without shoes because she wanted to give the work a timeless look. By having her wear shoes of a particular style and era, she feared the work would be dated to a particular time period.
Before commissioning the work, former Uniontown Art Club president Madelyn Cindric heard of DeFazio from an art club member who was familiar with the work of the Cal U instructor as a fellow member of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists. After Cindric contacted the Charleroi-based sculptor/professor, DeFazio made a small model or maquette of her proposed sculpture and presented it to the 60-member art club for approval. A vote by the members eventually gave her the commission.
"I toyed with different poses and concepts but knew from the start that I wanted the statue to be accessible and natural. I didn't want it to just stand there, but intended it to be interactive in that people could sit down on one of the benches, join her and relax or read."
With numerous relatives living in Fayette County, DeFazio has personal ties to the area. Her brother, Michael, sister-in-law Amy, nephew Paul, 8, and nieces Sarah, 5, Mary, 4, and Elizabeth, 2, frequent the library. When designing the work, DeFazio envisioned her nieces, nephew and other children enjoying the library's story hour outdoors, sitting on the benches on sunny days shaded by the big golden locust tree that grows alongside the sculpture.
Made of a special concrete recipe with a variety of polymers that make it very hard yet relatively lightweight (225 pounds), the female figure is attached permanently to the light brown slatted bench with cast-iron arms. On either side, two flower-filled urns and a pair of additional benches are an integral part of the installation.
DeFazio selected concrete as her medium because it's durable and weather-resistant. She also experimented with a variety of colors and stains but ended by preferring the natural "stone" color of the original recipe. To give the finished product a little sparkle and magical aura, she sprinkled diamond dust over the surface of the mold before casting the sculpture.
"Eventually, I'd like to add a small child sitting next to the reading female's feet drawing with sidewalk chalk," she said. "That would nicely tie in the two concepts of the library and art club."
To document the work-in-progress, DeFazio took photographs at each stage of the process, starting with the making of an actual-size clay model with a wooden skeleton and ending with the casting of the concrete in a rubber mold.
Although DeFazio has completed several sculptures for private homeowners, the library work is her first outdoor public sculpture. Library Director Christy Fusco said her staff and patrons are pleased to have the installation.
"For a long time, the library has had a wonderful relationship with the art club," she said. "For one, we've been able to display in the library some of the club's art collection, which includes works by such artists as David Gilmore Blythe and Fairfield Porter."
To help fund the sculpture, the art club is sponsoring a buy-a-brick campaign. Supporters can purchase a standard-size brick that will be engraved with personalized text and installed on a concrete platform on which the sculpture rests. The cost of each brick is $50 for two lines of engraving, $60 for three and $100 for two companion bricks.

Patrons interested in purchasing a brick may call 724-437-2799 and ask for Nadine.
Dave Zuchowski is a free-lance writer who covers arts and entertainment for Washington Sunday. He can be reached by e-mail at:

(Article available at: /neigh_washington/20020818waarts8.asp

Uniontown Herald-Standard: October 30, 2003


Model for the sculpture, Alyson Coccari-Longanecker, is shown sitting next
to the sculpture created by artist Laura DeFazio. (Photo from the Tribune-Review)