ALUMNI PROFILES — Fall 2004
   

 
Lauren Faulkenberry, B.F.A. '00

Writer, Illustrator, Handmade Book-maker

Lauren Faulkenberry found her first muse at a book-making class during her junior year in the School of Art. It was an elective course, something she thought might be fun and interesting to explore. She felt the same way about printmaking.

"Serendipity stepped in," she says now. "I found my loves at the University.

"If I hadn't taken those courses, then I never would have started making wood engravings. I still would have become an artist, but I would not be creating handmade books. And that's the one thing that I would do every day if I could."

Her senior thesis project was a handmade children's alphabet book, which she wrote and illustrated with linoleum block prints. In 2000, it received Washington University's Nancy Kranzberg Book of the Year Award, and a copy now resides in Olin Library's Special Collections. The book, What Do Animals Do on the Weekend? Adventures from A to Z, was published in 2002 by Novello Festival Press (the country's only publisher funded by a public library), as its first foray into the children's book market.

Jackals love to jitterbug in What Do Animals Do on the Weekend? Adventures from A to Z.

After graduation, Faulkenberry found her second muse at a creative writing workshop. The result was a sublime marriage of talents. A gifted writer as well as an accomplished artist, she has since written a number of short stories.

"They're contemporary," she says. "They'd probably be considered romantic comedies. I'm also working on a novel that's sort of in the same vein. It has a Southern flavor. It's set in South Carolina, where I'm from, in a small town."

She also writes "short-short stories" that she illustrates and turns into limited edition letterpress books. She sells her books and prints via her Web site, insculpo.com.

"I really like the look and feel of old-fashioned wood engravings," she says. "Lately I've been doing two- and three-color prints, cutting separate wood blocks for each color. But whenever I get a more colorful idea, like the children's book, I go with watercolors. I'm not quite ambitious enough to cut 20 blocks for a print!"

Infused with humor, her work ranges from the whimsical to the satirical.

Playful, but not without her dark side, she cites German Expressionist artist Max Beckmann and graphic-novel writer Neil Gaiman as inspirations.

A recent letterpress book, with a limited edition of 23, is called When Muses Moved In. This story of a writer seeking inspiration features wood block illustrations of pesky muses and a scruffy Cupid who smokes in bed and reads in the bathtub. "These quick-tempered, foul-mouthed catalysts of creative genius steal the covers at night and drink all the gourmet coffee in the morning," she writes, "leaving me nothing but cold feet and parched grounds."

For the past couple years, Faulkenberry has been working as a free-lance illustrator and as an adjunct teacher of creative writing at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville, North Carolina, which has published some of her short story work. Her original prints for the children's story, meanwhile, are featured in an exhibit traveling throughout North Carolina. And this fall, she'll begin working on her Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing.

"I never thought I'd want to teach, but I love it," she says. "And I'm really jazzed about this novel I'm writing. After I finish my degree, I want to teach full time until I can afford to have a studio and spend my days making letterpress books."

She adds in her soft Southern accent: "I'm fortunate. I've found the things I love."

—Terri McClain

 


Jayne Morgan, B.S.B.A. '00

Enterprising Alum Works for Social Change

Jayne Morgan graduated just four years ago, but already she has a world of experience.

After earning her degree in accounting and passing the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, the St. Louis native went to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Morgan worked in the firm's auditing and litigation services divisions in Chicago, and a year later, she transferred to the company's Santiago, Chile, office. There she worked in the auditing division.

Morgan, who also majored in international business and Spanish, requested the transfer because she wanted to return to the country where she had studied abroad while a junior at Washington University.

She had planned to stay with PricewaterhouseCoopers, but when Morgan returned to Chile, she began to feel a different calling.

"While studying abroad, I learned a lot about Chile's history of a brutal dictatorship and human rights abuses. I saw how these issues impacted Chile, and I knew I wanted to be involved in working for social justice," says Morgan. "Then when I returned to Chile, I had that feeling come back—and knew I had to do something."

Morgan began searching for community service opportunities, which led her to the Nonprofit Enterprise and Self-sustainability Team (NESsT), www.nesst.org .

NESsT, which is an organization that helps other nonprofits develop self-financing enterprises to support their core missions and to make them more independent of limited donations, was looking for a finance and operations manager. Morgan took the position and joined NESsT's office in Santiago. (Besides Santiago, Chile, NESsT has offices in the United States and Budapest, Hungary.)

After two years with NESsT, Morgan can give many examples of how NESsT has helped nonprofits become more financially sustainable. For example, NESsT is working with La Morada, a Chilean nonprofit that provides counseling and other support services to underprivileged women, to develop services for full-paying clients to subsidize La Morada's outreach.

Morgan enjoys being a part of NESsT's social mission, but what she finds most rewarding about her job is the level of responsibility she has and the diversity of her daily routine. NESsT has only nine full-time staff members, thus Morgan's job description covers a lot of ground. She is in charge of NESsT's financial accounting, human resources, technology, and regulatory compliance.

"What I love about my job is that in the morning I could be doing the monthly accounting, while later that same day I could be meeting with the directors and discussing the pros and cons of expanding into Croatia or Peru," says Morgan.

At present, NESsT's activities are concentrated in emerging market countries in Central Europe and in Chile, but the organization wants to expand into other countries in Europe and South America. Morgan plans to stay at NESsT a couple more years to assist with this expansion. She doesn't have any specific plans beyond that, though she definitely wants to continue working on behalf of marginalized communities.

"Whether that is with a nonprofit, a socially responsible firm, or as a volunteer, I don't know," she says. "NESsT has taught me, though, that there can be a lot of overlap and sharing between the nonprofit and for-profit worlds—that there are lots of different opportunities to have a rewarding career, and there are many avenues through which one can work for social change."

—Brendan Watson, A.B. '04