A Father’s Fight, a Father’s Art
Andy Fausz’s struggle for justice
By Saad Ghosn
Art is also Fausz’s conversation, his way to communicate with others, to convey what he thinks and believes, what preoccupies him.
Raised by principled, highly ethical and religious parents, since his childhood Fausz has been very sensitive to evil in the world and to the potential power in each individual to make a difference. He uses art as a guiding light to interpellate the viewer and trigger a better change.
“Our world has a lot of pain, destruction, problems,” he says. “We need to work out our differences, make earth a better place for all. Art is a potent tool in this respect. It can get the word out on various issues, create communication, lead to answers and favor transformation.”
Fausz, a visual artist born and raised in Northern Kentucky, attended Grandview Elementary School and Bellevue High School; he excelled in art all along. After high school he took a break for few years, exploring life, working different jobs, then entered Northern Kentucky University to study drawing, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine art.
Even before art school Fausz drew all the time and exhibited his work; it consisted mostly of images out of his head, many related to rock and roll, popular at the time.
In college, his art became more personal both in imagery and content. It was often religious-based, questioning the reason for evil when we’re all given the ability to be good spirits and well-doers; it was dark, reflecting the darkness in the world, but also always included elements of hope and beauty.
“I was being an activist, speaking to the world of what I felt was wrong,” he says, “but also pointing to the beauty available, to the fact that we can share and help each other.”
In college, Fausz started a relationship that brought him a daughter; unfortunately the relationship soon derailed and he had to fight in court for the right to see and spend time with his child. From that moment on all his work focused on the pain caused by a broken relationship, his longing and concerns for his daughter, his dealing with a judicial system often insensitive to the needs of fathers.
“Our family-court system is failing fathers,” he says. “I had to prove I was the father of my child, that I was drug- and alcohol-free, that what I was being accused of was wrong – and this despite an impeccable past. I had to hire lawyers and lost all my life savings. Most important, I wasted precious time I could have spent with my baby.”
Sweet V, a large mixed-media painting Fausz created around the time he split up with his child’s mother, shows in its center a big, ominous head representing the mother, a dominating, powerful and controlling force in this instance. In its left lower corner is a small portrait of himself being pushed out of the page; in the background is a fading, ghost-like image of his daughter as he remembered her the night before, sleeping peacefully. He depicted the mother’s face with eyes and mouth closed, as if unwilling to see or talk, thus unresponsive to his helpless and hurt feelings.
In Judging Me, a very large 52”x82” mixed-media painting on paper, Fausz shares his
experience battling the court to gain the right to see his daughter. He drew the judges as skeleton referees surrounding him and accusing him. He is in the middle of the picture, his mouth wide open, screaming to defend himself. In the right half is the mother of his child, her head upside down, radiating thick lines of aggression; on one side of the painting are knives being thrown at him. To add hope to his situation, Fausz also incorporated a little house, flowers floating in the background, a Sacred Heart, allusion to himself, a good person wanting a good relationship.
In Protecting our Eggs, also a very large painting on paper, he states that even when one is the father, the rightful provider of the “egg,” the current family court system often denies him all rights, as if only mothers matter for a child’s healthy development.
Fausz’s recent paintings have all included self-portraits, portraits of his daughter, of her mother, images of good and evil, all interacting in different fields of color, line work and stylistic imagery, to reinforce emotions and feelings. They contain both beauty and pain and incorporate stories, poems, conversations, They can be hard to see, uplifting at times, but always trigger conversations with the viewers and an opportunity for Fausz to talk about his struggles and the family court system he has been experiencing, thus clarifying his message.
“Artists and art shows provide a vehicle for conversations, for people to meet and talk,” he says. “They get thoughts and exchanges started, vital to any change. My work right now focuses on my situation as an estranged father, also at shedding light on our family court system in order to make it more humane. It will always deal with the pain I see and feel around me, thriving for a better world.”
Now that he is able to spend more time with his daughter, Fausz hopes that the beauty of their relationship will start to transpire into his art. He would like to continue addressing religion and its good values, the power of love, ongoing social issues such as fighting greed, food and famine, the futility of wars.
“For me, the best aspect of art is sharing it and sharing myself and my feelings through it,” Fausz says. “My images come naturally and subconsciously; they reflect what I had lived, thought, experienced. My art breathes on its own; it urges me to partake in the goodness of life.”