Lou D’Elia (da-LEE-uh) is an assemblage artist and portrait photographer.  

D’Elia was born in 1951 and grew up in the historic seaside Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica, California, during a time when it was largely a blue-collar neighborhood populated by Douglas Aircraft Company factory workers, fisherman, artists, poets, beatniks, and expats from the WWII era refugee influx and post-war migration from Europe. His Ocean Park neighborhood also played host to the beginning of the bodybuilding and physical health culture in California, attracting open minded individuals who moved there to lead healthier lifestyles and develop their physique. With few children in his neighborhood, mostly adults in his neighborhood were his childhood friends, encouraging his imagination, curiosity and creativity. 


His assemblage art incorporates vernacular and circa-1950s male physique photography, copper wire, illumination, visual puns and his own photography. D’Elia often uses vintage wood foundry molds in his assemblage art as a nod to his father who had a woodshop and worked as a pattern-maker in the 1950s. His assemblages are often social commentaries on the dynamics of social/political use and abuse of power, challenging definitions of masculinity and male role expectations, as well as exploring journeys of personal growth/fulfillment and the acknowledgement that life passes by all too quickly.

D'Elia’s journey in photography began when he enrolled in an elective photography class in high school. His teacher was Claire Steinberg who had been the first female editor at Popular Photography magazine. It was with her encouragement that D’Elia focused on portraiture. Along the way he met and became a close friend of Hollywood glamour photographer George Hurrell and his family who also encouraged him to pursue his art. 

While a student at UCLA, in addition to having two on-campus jobs to help pay for college, he occasionally worked on assignment as a freelance photographer of artists and entertainment celebrities including Andy Warhol, Alfred Hitchcock, and others. His work was published in film/entertainment magazines of that era. 


D'Elia went on to obtain a Ph.D. from UCLA and completed two NIMH-postdoctoral fellowships at the Geffen-UCLA School of Medicine obtaining postdoctoral degrees in Neuropsychogeriatrics and Clinical Neuropsychology.  It was later in his professional life that D'Elia began creating assemblage art and picking up his camera again, with an eye toward his eventual transition from one passion to another upon retirement from his career in the mental health field. After 32 years D'Elia retired from his career as a clinical geroneuropsychologist, psychotherapist in private practice and co-director of the Neuropsychology Assessment Laboratory (adult and senior-adult divisions) at the Geffen-UCLA School of Medicine. Retirement allowed D'Elia to fully focus on his other passion: creating art.


D’Elia’s life-long appreciation of art and fellow artists led to being one of the founding members of what became the Photography Council, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has curated or guest curated several photography exhibitions at museums in California. Lou D'Elia continues to reside and work in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica. His studio is located in his father’s former woodshop.