Guest post: An Alumni’s Special Contribution to The Karene Faul Project

Zachary Higgins, ’10, has created a print to benefit The Karene Faul Project. Learn from Zach himself about his inspiration to do so and how you can help:

In the fall of 2005, I had an important decision to make. Portfolio deadlines were fast approaching and I still had not decided where I wanted to go to school. At the urging of my art teacher, I looked into The College of Saint Rose. The art department looked impressive, so I scheduled a review for the following month.  It was my first real portfolio review, and I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly did not expect to meet with the chairwoman herself: Karene Faul.

I did my best to not look terrified—no way would such an important figure accept me into her department. But as she pored over my work I couldn’t help but think that she was looking for something I couldn’t see.  Now that I can look back at my portfolio (and cringe), I think it’s safe to say that she was looking for potential. I guess she must have found it, because that day I was accepted into The College of Saint Rose class of 2010.

I didn’t see Karene much my freshman year, but as a sophomore I took her Screen Printing I class. She was a fiery and passionate teacher, stern when she needed to be, and determined to help everyone reach their potential. Outside the classroom, she was equally dedicated to her students, striving to build the best program she could to ensure our success as artists.

Though I only took one class with her, I would see more of Karene through the rest of my student career as I worked as a tour guide at Picotte. On open houses and portfolio days, there wasn’t a single thing she didn’t have her hand in. Somehow Karene managed to review portfolios, talk to parents, and still squeeze in a tour or two herself. How one woman managed to be in three places at once is beyond me, but never once did she ever make it look difficult. Call it a labor of love and a love of labor, if you will.

Karene Faul working with a student

After graduating in 2010, I took a job in Ohio, though I managed to visit Saint Rose again the following spring for the 2011 Senior Exhibition. Of course Karene was there, reveling in the work that her students had created. I spoke with her briefly, but otherwise stayed among the crowd. Plenty of people needed their turn with her as well.

"Good art teachers can change the world" print in black

A year later, I received an email addresses to alumni that Karene was sick. It was a shock to the system, as she had been so healthy when I last saw her. Yet not even two days later, our worst fears were confirmed: Karene Faulhad passed away. The word spread quickly via Facebook as students, current and former, dedicated their statuses to the woman who had had such an impact on their lives. A special page commemorating her legacy was quickly established. Dubbed The Karene Faul Project, people were invited to share their stories and celebrate her life.

Shortly after the news broke, Saint Rose established a memorial fund. Wanting to do something special as my way of honoring Karene, I decided to raise money by hand-lettering and printing a quote of hers that I believe embodies her spirit entirely: “Good art teachers can change the world.” Karene, you are that art teacher.

So this is where you can help. I worked with the student AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) chapter and sold a decent number of prints at the last Senior Exhibition, but there are still plenty left over. I’ve set up on online shop where you may purchase a print for yourself. All proceeds (minus the cost of shipping) will go directly to The Karene Faul Memorial Fund. Current students can even use the code SAINTROSESTUDENT at checkout to receive $10 off their order. Unfortunately there’s no real way to prevent non-students from using the discount, so at the very least I ask that you please not abuse it.

Finally, I encourage you to spread the word! If you have a special art teacher in your life, consider passing this along to them (or getting it for them yourself!) if you think they might like it. And to the incoming students, I know that many of you were not lucky enough to have met Karene, but I guarantee that you will feel her influence as you go through the program, and I’d be grateful if you too purchased a print.

The Karene Faul Project

The two prints that are available (click to enlarge)

To contact Zach follow him on Twitter or send him an email at zachhigginsis@gmail.com

What do you think?