Jose Faus (BA, ’87) is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer who came to Kansas City from Bogota, Columbia, as a child. Most of his school years were spent in the KC metro and he fell in love with the city.
Faus knew after graduating from Shawnee Mission North High School that he wanted to stay in the area. He was introduced to art while taking classes at a local community college and decided to transfer to UMKC to finish his studies.
“’Artist’ really covers the array of interpretive experience,” Faus said. “Art consumes pretty much most of my time.”
To Faus, being an artist is more than just putting paint on a canvas. He has created murals locally around the Kansas City metro, as well as internationally. Faus’ murals always have a community component, and sometimes a hint of activism.
“Communities are living things, they’re organisms, and they have histories that are far more important than the ones that the tourists come and see,” Faus said in a 2015 interview with KCUR. “It’s a beautiful thing to see that it has had so much life.”
Faus also calls himself an “independent teacher” and he loves working with youth and adults. He believes that by using art to tell their own stories, people are able to deal with the trauma of life. Faus has the advantage of approaching things as both a writer and visual artist, which allows him to help kids engage in creative ways.
He often works with the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art’s No Boundaries Teen Art Initiative, which brings together youth from the Kansas City community to explore, create and collaborate on multiple art concepts.
“It’s an incredible experience,” Faus said. “For me, the main emphasis is working with people until they have that ‘ah-ha’ moment and that spark of creativity.”
Faus is also a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective, sits on the boards of the UMKC Friends of the Library and the Charlotte Street Foundation and is board president of The Writer’s Place. His first chapbook, This Town Like That, was published in 2015, and his full-length book of poetry, The Life and Times of Jose Calderon, will be published soon.
Faus says that UMKC was a big foundational part of his life as an artist. He found a sense of freedom at the university that he had not experienced before, and he is proud of how UMKC has changed since he was a student here.
“When I was there it was more of a commuter campus,” Faus said. “What I really like about UMKC now is the diversity of the student body. It’s a different campus now, it’s stronger.”