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In a curriculum description for Chatham University by Mary Ann Gaser, we found this description of the piece:
Virgil Cantini’s Joy of Life is the focal point of the East Liberty Mall. Commissioned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, the fountain was dedicated in 1969.The unrest and violence of the sixties moved Cantini to express an idea of unity. Cantini comments, ‘No one lives to himself and what our divided society needs is an increasing sense of our oneness, our mutual dependence. These men with their arms locked together [represent] the strong and the weak, the affluent and the poor, the educated and the underprivileged, this is one society and one community’
Update: May 2018
We recently heard from Dr. Richard Falvo, the son of the man who actually built this sculpture:
"The person who built this statue was Italo O. Falvo. He was an ornamental iron worker who was employed by Reiling Manufacturing Company. Italo Falvo took Virgil Cantini's visualizations and made them a reality. Italo Falvo was an Italian immigrant from the town of Feroleto Antico, which was in the Southern Italian Province of Calabria. Italo Falvo died on March 24, 1976, about 2 months shy of his 61st birthday. He was survived by his wife Giovanna Falvo (who was also an immigrant from the same town, Feroleto Antico). Giovanna Falvo later passed away on November 24th, 2004, at the age of 76."