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Meet Faith Schexnader (with Emily)  

by Jennifer Marine

Not many people can say they knew what they wanted to be when they were five- 
years-old, and then grew up to be it, but artist, designer and sculptor Faith Schexnader did just that -- and she’s pleasantly surprised.

Of course, it helped that she took as many business classes as she could while earning her BFA at the University of Texas, knowing they were necessary for her vocational love to earn her a living. And it helped that she had mentors in high school who urged her to keep on searching (keep looking, keep looking -- what you want is out there) until she found the perfect combination of art and livelihood that would work for her. It also helped that she was blessed with a supportive foster mother (her father died when she was five, her mother when she was 15) and lots of supportive, extended family. But her husband John is the main person she credits with shaping the trajectory of her life. In Faith’s words, "I really wouldn’t have made it this far without his loving support, 
keen business sense and strong convictions. He makes it all happen now for me."

She’s worked hard to find a way to incorporate art into her life so she can “do it for 50 years and still be happy.” And while her perfect dream job would involve industrial or toy design, she is content with an ever-changing, absorbing roster of projects involving everything from architectural reproduction, sculpture and tile collage, to murals and faux finishes.

As a native Austinite and seventh generation Texan, Faith (35) served many apprenticeships where she soaked up as much as she could: frame and cabinetry shops, movie sets, designing kids’ rooms (which she did successfully on her own for ten years). For her, art doesn’t work when it’s done just for shock value or to vent something personal -- it is essential that art has elements of recognition, it has to be universally identifiable and understood. 

Faith's sculptural work can be seen in various places around town, such as the whimsical coffee cup at the 503 Coffee Bar on Oltorf, Pieces of the Past on East Monroe, Halbert Antiques on Burnet Road, and the annual Christmas display in front of the GSD&M building. She created the castle-like podium for George Bush’s victory speech (never used), and Lance Armstrong’s victory float for the Tour de France parade.

A proud mama of two, Emily (6) and John Wiley (20 months), Faith loves being able to drive down the street and have her daughter say, "Look! My mommy did that!" She hopes to be a source of inspiration to her children as they grow, showing them it’s possible to design a rich, creative, well- rounded life -- with a loving partner and children that are loved.

Perched in Faith's front yard stands the physical embodiment of her “Mother Hen” philosophy: a strong, protective haven (note the open wing) and a “Hey! Don’t mess with my chicks!” attitude.

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The Countess Galleria / Sarah Higdon

Questions for Faith Schexnader:

Who inspired you when you were growing up and why?

Kathrine Hepburn always intrigued me as a child. I thought she was witty and funny and always seemed so confident in being a little different. I loved it that she wore pants when everyone else wore dresses. She is just soo full of life and self awareness. I wanted to grow up like her.

You are face to face with your ten-year-old self. You have one thing to say to her about her future, what do you say?

I would say to myself that my mother's suggestions were not that far fetched and were much more closer to reality than I ever gave her credit for. I would say to drink more water and take better care of my body and to enjoy your loved ones for you really will miss them when they are gone.

What is the biggest contradiction you see mothers being faced with today?

I feel that it is really hard to try to "do it all". To work, keep a house, have children, take them places and do it all well, and still try to find time for yourself.

What do you see as your biggest challenge in being the kind of person you want to be?

My biggest challenge is trying not to get caught up in the little details that drive me crazy. To let go of my inhibitions, not worry about what other people think and to feel confident about my decisions.

What makes you most happy about what you give back to the world?

I take great pride in having a family, having a career that I am happy with, having a wonderful, supportive husband. Just having someone to share my life with makes me most happy of all.

What two notable people would you like to see handcuffed together for a day?

I would like to see Mother Mary and Gerry Garcia cuffed together.

What do you wish you could automatically grant, like a fairy godmother, to mothers during trying times?

The strength to endure and under- standing that things are not always black and white. Sometimes time is the best remedy.

Thanks, Faith!

To see examples of Faith's  latest work, visit the set of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, opening at the Zilker Hillside Theater April 18.
Or contact her here: schex@austin.rr.com

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