Italo Pasquale Bernardo Scanga was born in 1932 in Lago, Calabria. In the early 1940s, he worked as a cabinetmaker’s apprentice and studied sculpture with a man who carved statues of saints. In 1947, Scanga emigrated to America with his mother, settling in Pt. Marion, PA where his father was working as a railroad laborer. From 1951 to 1953 he studied at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Detroit, Michigan and in 1956 he enrolled at Michigan State University, graduating in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. The following year, Scanga received a Master’s degree from Michigan State University and took his first teaching job at the University of Wisconsin.
In 1964 he moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1966 he moved to State College, PA where he taught at Pennsylvania State University and met artists Harry Anderson, Richard Frankel, Juris Ubans and Richard Calabro.
In 1969 Scanga had a one- man exhibition at the Baylor Art Gallery at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. In 1970 he received the Howard Foundation Grant from Brown University and was included in the sculpture annual at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In 1976 Scanga took a one-year job teaching at the University of California, San Diego and two years later, he moved permanently to California to teach with Manny Ferber, Patricia Patterson and Alan Kaprow, among others. Scanga began making several trips to Italy to visit family members and to study the art and architecture.
In 1982 Scanga created woodcuts in collaboration with Chip Elwell and from 1987 to 1995, he created prints in collaboration with Shark's Ink, publishers of contemporary prints. The monotypes and lithographs that the collaboration produced feature images of saints, fruits and vegetables, vases and landscape. Scanga often utilized found materials, such as old engravings, as collage elements in his prints. The following year he was included in the Whitney Biennial in New York and “Archimedes Troubles: Sculptures and Drawings” at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. In 1986 Scanga was the subject of the retrospective, “Italo Scanga: Recent Sculpture and Drawings” at the Oakland Museum, in Oakland, CA.
In 1990 he became Artist in Residence at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in ME. Italo Scanga died in his Turquoise Street Studio in San Diego, California in 2001.