Joseph Fornelli was born in Chicago, Illinois
on May 21, 1943. He graduated from Steinmetz
High School in Chicago in 1961, and then attended the Art
Institute of Chicago. He is a decorated
veteran of the Vietnam War, who served as a United States Army Helicopter Crew
Chief from 1965 to 1967. His Vietnam artwork was done while in Vietnam, where
he was able to capture his emotions and impressions which were rendered with
the materials available in the field, such as C-ration coffee, map ink, teak
wood, and spent .50 caliber brass shells. Upon returning to the United States
he founded a group of veterans from that war who shared art as an escape.
Several years later, the group gathered their artwork together, and was
officially known as the Vietnam Veterans Art Group (VVAG). This collection of
art traveled across the country until early 1996. The collection is on
permanent display at The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago. Joseph Fornelli
is the founder and acting president of the museum(February 2008).
Fornelli has maintained several commercial clients
throughout the years, such as Ducks Unlimited, the National Rifle Association,
the U.S. Historical Society, and the U.S. Life Guard Association. He has also illustrated many books, designed
museum dioramas, restored and bound rare books, painted watercolors hanging in
homes, museums, galleries, and businesses around the world, and created
one-of-a-kind works of art for famous and well-known individuals. Among his illustrations are the magazine
publications Ducks Unlimited, Rod and Reel, Outdoor America, Sports Afield,
Wyoming Outdoors, and Field and Stream. In addition to magazines, he has
illustrated over 15 books, some published by Winchester Press, William Morrow,
Knopf Publishing, Lyons Burford Publishing, and Outdoor Life Books.
Over the years, Fornelli has received many awards for his artwork, starting
with several gold medals awards in a City of Chicago Scholastic Art Exhibit back in 1961. He lives in Park Ridge,
Illinois (as of February 2008)
with his wife. They have two children
Renee and Derek who both attended art school receiving their art talent from
Exhibitions and Permanent Displays:
Much of his artwork has been displayed and exhibited in
places such as Leigh Yawkey Woodsen Art Museum, Denver Museum of Natural
History, Brookfield Zoo of Chicago, Chicago Pallet and Chisel Club,
Philedelphia Academy of Natural Science, the LBJ Museum of Austin, N.A.M.E.
Gallery in Chicago, the National Wildlife Federation Art Show, The Lincoln
Center, the Cork Gallery in New York, Rockefeller Center. Works of art are also
permanently displayed in President Jimmy Carter's Library, which were presented
to him personally by Fornelli in 1991.
Submitted by Renee Fornelli Byrd, daughter of the artist