Tomás Lasansky was born into a privileged position in the art world. The members of the Lasansky family who are prominent in the arts only begin with his father, the Argentinean-born Mauricio Lasansky, who is considered one of the fathers of American printmaking.
The 50-year-old Tomás counts uncles and great-uncles on his mother’s side who were noted painters and sculptors, and five siblings who range from sculptors to arts professors to dancers. His paternal grandfather was not an artist, exactly — but he was so masterful as an engraver that the U.S. government brought him from his native Lithuania to Philadelphia, to print currency.
Beyond the artistic atmosphere that surrounded him, there was his perspective on it all. Lasansky is the youngest of six children — the oldest is some 20 years Tomás’ senior — and from that vantage point, art was not only a constant, it was fun and a way to bond with his family members. Lasansky says there was never any pressure on him to create; the word he uses is he was “invited” to work on the various projects undertaken in Iowa City, which the Lasanskys called home.
So at 4, Tomás helped one brother make a steel sculpture of a horse and rider 10 feet tall — big enough that, when it was sold, a wall had to be knocked out of the house to relocate it. Lasansky later spent 10 years helping his father make prints.
“Growing up was fabulous,” said Lasansky . “We had this old Victorian house and everyone used it as a studio. I had a basement full of anything I wanted — pottery, wax, steel, prints. I used to hold classes for the neighborhood kids.”
“I have more ideas than I have time to do them. I’m always trying to come up with different ways to do things,” said Lasansky, whose one boundary — so far — has been to stay in the field of representational work.
It was another example of Lasansky’s unique perspective on making art.
“Being youngest helps,” he said. “You get to see everyone else’s mistakes.”