Artistic Biography of Joseph E. Billotti, S.J., PhD
As far back as he can remember, Joseph E. Billotti, S.J., Ph.D. was into arts and crafts. He pencil-drew his furniture (including a perspective of a ¾-grand piano), taught himself free sketching, and colored whatever pictures he could find. He constructed the erector set version of the Coney Island Parachute Jump and made hollow hand-puppets from clay and paper. During high school, he hand tooled calf and cowhide women's pocketbooks with linings, shoulder straps, and change purses. He bartered leather lacing products to a store to obtain hand tooled silver clasps to use on his pocketbooks. He was even on the high school stage crew for three years, and he played Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in his senior year.
After joining the Jesuits, he continued acting and was stage manager while teaching high school mathematics. He also designed playbill covers. At one time, Joseph took lessons in pottery wheels and kilns. Then, administration and missionary work limited his time for artistic works. He did, however, serve for four years as the Director of Ponape Agriculture and Trade School on the Island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. There he dabbled in drafting and machine tooling in wood and metal.
Joseph's acrylic painting began in 2012 when he was able to take a course in color and acrylic painting from Fr. Michael F. Tunney, S.J., Ph.D., a professor of art at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. He seemed to take to it immediately, even successfully submitting a painting to the college's art publication, "Quadrangle." He also works in pastels, watercolors, and palette acrylics. The last few years, Joseph was blessed to be encouraged and mentored by Fr. Oscar Magnan, S.J., Ph.D. of St. Peter's University (Jersey City, NJ).