I have the honour to present Leo Mol, one of Canada's foremost artists whose fame as a sculptor, painter and stained glass designer and maker is known throughout the art world.
Born in the Ukraine, Leo Mol began to reveal his artistic talents at the age of four, when he shaped clay animals in his father's pottery shop. By the time he was fifteen, he demonstrated such propensity in painting, modelling and sculpting, that he was sent to Vienna for formal instruction. A period of 18 years of intensive study followed in the Academy of Art in Vienna, the Kunstakademie in Berlin and the Academy of Art in the Hague. In 1948, Leo Mol immigrated to Canada to a friend's farm at Hudson's Bay Junction, Saskatchewan, and several weeks later, he moved to Winnipeg where he began to work as an artist with a church goods supplier. In 1962 he became a Canadian citizen, and by combining great talent and remarkable determination, he has built a career that has reached across Canada and to many parts of the world, establishing him as one of Canada's leading artists.
Leo Mol's creative genius can be seen in an extraordinarily wide range of materials. Repaints murals, works in ceramics, draws in pencil and in pastels, paints in water colours and in oils, hammers in iron, creates statues out of plaster and clay, carves in stone and marble, casts in bronze, and designs and produces stained glass windows. Most recently, he designed and supervised the construction of a large glass mosaic on the front exterior wall of one of Winnipeg's cathedrals.
Of all these works of art, however, Leo Mol is best known for his sculptures. He has a reputation of personally conducting all the processes involved in sculpting and casting, from the initial model in clay, to the final cast in bronze. Admired for his remarkable technique, his knowledge of materials and their handling, his retrospective classical romanticism and his ability to respond to society's needs and ideas, Leo Mol's sculptures are valued and studied across Canada, in the United States, Europe and South America. Some examples are: in Winnipeg -Queen Elizabeth II, Clarence Tillenius, and the former chancellor of University of Winnipeg, Dr. Paul Thorlakson; in Ottawa - John G. Diefenbaker; in New York - Dwight D. Eisenhower; in the Vatican - Popes Paul VI, John XXIII, and John Paul II; in London - St. Vladimir; in Hamilton, Ontario - A. Y. Jackson, Fred Varley and A. Casson of the Group of Seven; in Washington and Buenos Aires - Taras Shevchenko; and in Edmonton and The Pas - Manitoba's bushpilot, Tom Lamb. Among his works on the campus of The University of Manitoba are the memorial plaques in the Elizabeth Dafoe Library and the Faculty of Education.
National and international recognition of Leo Mol as a leading sculptor has taken many forms. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, the Sculptors Society of Canada, the Allied Artists of America, and the Society of Artists in the Hague. He has received the Centennial Gold Medal of the Government of Canada, the Allied Arts Medal of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada, the gold Medal of the Italian Academy in Parma, and the John C. Stone Prize of the Allied Artists of America. He has received the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from the University of Winnipeg and from the University of Alberta. He has a school in Bavaria named after him, and there are several monographs and books devoted to his works.
Throughout his dynamic and exceedingly productive career, Dr. Mol has been supported by his wife Margareth, whom he met and married in Germany, and who holds a doctorate in French literature from The University of Manitoba.
It is clear that we have with us today, a man who has achieved extraordinary success in his chosen field. His art is recognized throughout as eloquent and universal, knowledgeable and sincere, stable and lasting. An intensely loyal man both to his adopted city of Winnipeg and to his friends around him, Leo Mol is respected and admired, and we take special pride that he is here with us today.
Mr. Chancellor, it is an honour and a privilege for me to ask in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, that you confer upon Leo Mol, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba