Art professor reaches beyond the classroom to transform spaces around the world

Art professor reaches beyond the classroom to transform spaces around the world

Art professor reaches beyond the classroom to transform spaces around the world


David Prete at his solo show at Studio Gallery

Professor Prete at his solo show at Studio Gallery.

Davide Prete, an associate professor of art in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a highly influential and sought-after sculptor. His work has been showcased in the U.S. and around the world. Born in Treviso, Italy, Prete moved to America in 2007 and D.C. in 2011. He has been a professor at UDC for four years, teaching sculpture, digital tools, and ceramics.

“The teaching position here was perfect for me,” Prete said. “The department was interested in focusing on new technologies applied to art. I am good at traditional sculptures and ceramics but also in new technologies such as 3D printing and 3D scanning, so it was a great fit. Another thing I greatly appreciate is that I have received much support from the Dean’s office—it has always supported my work and how I pass my professional experience to the students.”

Prete was introduced to metalsmithing art by his father, Alessandro Prete, and another international sculptor from Italy, Toni Benetton. Prete studied jewelry and metalsmithing at the Institute of Art in Venice. In 2003, he obtained an architecture degree at the prestigious Università Iuav di Venezia (IUAV) in Venice, Italy. Afterward, he worked as an award-winning architect, notably with famed Italian architect Toni Follina.

Yet, Prete yearned to do other forms of art. He earned a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2010. He studied under professor Hank Knickmeyer and developed a personal sculptural process, mixing traditional metal casting and new technologies.

In 2014, the professor received a diploma from Fab Academy, where he studied digital fabrication with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Neil Gershenfeld through an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms— an interdisciplinary initiative exploring the boundary between computer science and physical science. Later he received a more specialized certificate in Design for Additive Manufacturing from MIT

Prete’s work is installed in Italy and the U.S. and has been shown at national and international venues, including New York, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, England, London and France.

David Prete - Soundwave Park

Soundwave Art park in Washington D.C.

In addition to temporary exhibitions, his bronze sculpture “Icarus” is now in permanent exposition at the Facchina Italian American Museum of Washington DC (I.A.M.D.C.) along with his 3D printed reinterpretation of the Senate Corncob Capitals made in collaboration with the Architects of the Capitol. In the past four years, he installed two important public sculptures. The first one, “Freedom to Read” was explicitly made for Capitol View Library in Washington D.C., and the second public art project, “Soundwave Art Park for Playable Art,” was installed at Fort Dupont, Washington D.C.

These public art installations led to Prete being one of four artists nominated for the 35th Washington D.C. Mayor’s Art Award for Excellence in Visual Arts in 2020. The award honors an individual, group, nonprofit organization, or private entity that has made significant contributions to Visual Arts in the District of Columbia through the direct practice of their artistic work.

He was also recently selected to install the public sculpture “Solar Flare” and “Beginning and End of a Rainbow” at the Beale Circle in

Professor Prete working on “Solar Flare”

Professor Prete working on “Solar Flare”

Riverdale, Maryland. He will also present his work at the Generative Art International Conference in Rome, Italy, from December 12-14. His proposal for Carroll Creek Kinetic Art Promenade with the Kinetic Sculpture “Blooming Life” was successfully sponsored and will be fabricated and installed next year in downtown Frederick, Maryland.

It has been a busy year for Prete, but he said he is up for the challenge.

“I have to keep a good balance between teaching and creating. Sometimes it’s demanding, but I am delighted with my work,” he said.

Prete enjoys focusing on new technologies such as 3D printing and laser scanning applied to traditional sculptural techniques. He connects figurative images with mathematical language using toroidal warping shapes and other mathematical forms. He says that mathematical equations gave him a pretext for discovering a new formal language in his last projects. Prete wants people to see the connection between shape, materials, technologies, sculptural techniques, and the beauty created by their relationship.

One of the things he enjoys most about his work is inspiring his students and involving them in his projects.

“Last year, we worked on two big projects, which was amazing,” Prete said. “Right now, we are opening a new space where students will work with new technologies. We will combine 3D printing and laser scanning with traditional metalsmithing techniques. Students will be able to get the technical parts as well, which is great.”

To learn more about Prete’s work, please click here.