The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

Sad News

John Mangan Peace Image

It is with much sadness and deepest sympathy that SoVA announces the passing of alumnus and longtime instructor John Mangan. Below is a letter from John’s friend and fellow SoVA alumnus David Love, reflecting on John’s life:

I am writing to you in regards to my dear friend, artist, and teacher John Mangan, who passed away on September 9, 2014. John was a longtime teacher at Penn State and he was also my SoVA classmate during our graduate studies in printmaking under Bruce Shobaken from 1984 to 1986.

John was an active artist and he exhibited his work frequently at many venues in Central Pennsylvania. (This is a link to a review from an exhibit a few years back: He was an incredibly prolific artist and he has left behind a vast collection of drawings, paintings, and prints that easily number in the hundreds. He lived for over 25 years at a community in Julian, Pa., just a few miles outside of State College. John lived a deeply spiritual life and his work reflects that profoundly. He immersed himself into all areas of spiritual traditions, from Christianity and Buddhism to the American Indians. John travelled frequently and he lived a beautiful, eclectic life quite outside the norm. His home and studio are a treasure trove of artist’s works, books, collected objects, and ephemera and offer an incredible journey into the mind of a profoundly spiritual individual and artist. 

John was also an important mentor and gifted teacher at Penn State, having taught evening classes for many years through Penn State’s Continuing Education program. While quite capable of teaching artistic fundamentals in drawing and painting, his strongest teachings no doubt centered on nurturing the students’ own artistic voices.

John’s memorial services were profound and a true celebration and reflection of his life. He was buried in a simple pine box constructed by his friend, right next to a garden at the home of his partner, Deborah Fisher. The services gathered together hundreds of friends and family members, including many alumni and others from the Penn State community. 

While many are deeply saddened by John’s loss, we also feel fortunate to have spent time with such an amazing human being. John lived life with incredible passion. He was a true artist, a devoted teacher, and a great friend and mentor to many. 

David Love, ’86 M.F.A.
Art Teacher, Germantown Academy