The former professor and department chair passed away Aug. 25.
Neil Kosh, an 84-year-old former art and art education professor and department chairman for the Tyler School of Art for 55 years, passed away of lung cancer Aug. 25.
Kosh was also a Temple alumnus who received bachelor’s degrees in education and fine arts, in 1951 and 1956 respectively, and a master’s degree in fine arts in 1956.
“As a student, [Kosh] was a leader,” said assistant professor Jo-Anna Moore, area coordinator of art education and former Tyler chairperson. “He wrote all the time for the Tyler newsletter, and he was constantly active in student government.”
When Kosh joined the faculty in 1954, he became one of the pioneers for the art department at Tyler’s former Elkins Park campus. He worked for the school’s first dean, Boris Blai, a Russian sculptor, who founded Tyler in 1935.
“[Kosh] is a remarkable person. I will always speak of him in the present tense because his memory is so vivid, and he was such a great guy,” Moore said.
Kosh received several honors while teaching at Temple, including the Lindbach Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1988, the Great Teacher Award in 1991 and the Alumni Association Certificate of Honor.
Kosh instructed more than 6,200 students in painting, drawing and 2-D design courses throughout his tenure, according to the Temple Review in 2007.
When Kosh was the department chairperson, he hired several faculty members, including current professor Marilyn Holsing of art and art education in 1973.
“Anybody who met him knew that he was a brilliant man,” Holsing said. “He was just a born teacher.”
Moore said that according to historical documents, Kosh was asked to organize the art department on Main Campus in the early 1960s, which allowed any university student to take art studio classes.
“Neil was a very strong teacher, very demanding of his students, and he gave a lot in return,” said Rochelle Toner, former dean of Tyler.
Kosh had a reputation for realistic art and commissioned more than 150 portraits, many of them Temple administrators. His portraits of former university presidents Peter Liacouras and Marvin Wachman are currently displayed in the Beasley School of Law and Sullivan Hall.
In the early 1970s, Kosh served as director of the Temple Rome Program. Former Secretary for the Department of Art and Art Education Betty De Lullo said Kosh invited international students to holiday dinners with his friends and family if they were unable to go home.
“There were always lively discussions about their customs, cultures, religions, music and politics,” De Lullo wrote in an e-mail. “I always came away from these occasions having learned something valuable.”
Holsing said Kosh had a teaching method that encouraged students to “question their assumptions about everything. Not just art, but everything.”
Walter Myrick, a former student of Kosh, said the way Kosh demonstrated art techniques in a second-level drawing course gave him a different perspective on art education.
“He always told us, ‘Draw it as if you are going to throw it away, don’t worry about making it pretty – just take a chance,’” Myrick said.
Kosh was originally from North Wales and graduated from Roxborough High School. He attended Oberlin College before he served in World War II.
Kosh is survived by his son, Matthew, and his daughter, Amy, as well as a granddaughter and his former wife, Leah Kosh.
Connor Showalter can be reached at email@example.com.