This last Friday evening, I received an email from one of my college art professors letting me know that the chairwoman of the college’s art school, Karene Faul, had passed away. Unfortunately, it didn’t come as a surprise since she had been sick for quite a few months, but that doesn’t ease the sadness I have felt these past few days. She wasn’t an obligatory figurehead for the art school. She loved art and she loved inspiring her students to create, admire and treasure all forms of art.
The first day I met Karene was as a high school senior. My parents and I had driven up to Albany to the College of St. Rose to tour the art school and show her my portfolio. That day I would find out if my dream of going to art school would become a reality or remain a dream. I could only hope I would measure up.
She was a woman small in stature, but the way she held herself and her interaction with others told me right away that she commanded respect. And most certainly, she got it. (I would later learn that one of her many nicknames was “The Iron Lady.”) My nerves hit a high point. However, as I sat in Karene’s office and told her about the pieces in my portfolio, I saw more. She was genuinely interested, encouraging, and most definitely a stickler for detail. After a largely positive conversation with her, I emerged from her office with a new sense of confidence…and a scholarship!
As my college career progressed, I would have the honor to get to know her better. She was highly involved, teaching many of the art classes the school offered. It was not easy getting high marks in her classes so when you received a positive critique it was a true accomplishment. After four years under her tutelage, I learned more about myself as a person and an artist than I ever thought possible and I have brought those lessons with me to Cashman + Katz. I employ them everyday.
Although Karene can never be imitated, someone like Karene has shaped each and everyone one of us into the people we are today. Please take a moment to remember who your “Karene” is and live your life to make them proud. It has been almost 10 years since I last saw Karene and though, unfortunately, I have missed out on any future opportunities to thank her for everything she did for me, I will always remember what she taught me and will continue to keep her love of art alive.