SWARTHMORE, Pa. (CBS) – A local artist with an incredible talent is on a mission to prove anything is possible.
Each of her projects takes about two years to complete. But it’s not so much about the end product, even though her art is undeniably beautiful, for this artist it’s the journey that is truly transformative.
On Saturday mornings, a handful of students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, “tap away.” It’s noise to some, but a cacophony that brings peace to others.
“When I’m carving, it’s a way to meditate,” said Kathleen Faul.
Faul sits just outside PAFA’s stone carving room. She considers herself the class greeter. Afterall, she’s taken this continuing education course longer than any of her classmates. That is, for nearly 20 years.
“I take my chisel and my hammer, and take a piece as small as a grain of rice or a little split pea,” said Faul. “I love it, I just fell in love with stone.”
So much so, she dedicates two years to each sculpture. You can’t tell yet, but her latest project is an Egyptian cat.
“Which is going to be very difficult because it’s long and thin,” said Faul.
“There’s something really magical about it,” said Associate Professor, Steven Nocella. “She’s like a star in the class.”
But unlike her classmates, Faul will never see her finished work.
“I don’t have any vision at all. I lost it in a car accident, about 50 years ago,” said Faul.
Not only did she lose her sight – but she lost her way. Eventually, together with her family and friends, she found an unlikely creative outlet in art – and it saved her.
“We work towards how I could start, having this inner part of my soul that was angry and dead after losing my eyesight, come back to life,” said Faul.
Since then, she’s carved elephants, a lion, and the human figure. Faul credits her professor, Steven Nocella, for her success. He’s her eyes. Then it’s up to Faul to use her sense of touch and sound.
“I use my hearing to tell me when the chisel is making a bad sound, and I pull back, and I’m more gentile,” said Faul. “And there comes a day, I go to class and I go, there it is I found it! And I’m just so overjoyed.”
With her service dog always by her side, Faul is the picture of independence and an ever evolving inspiration.
“As I chip away my stone, I’m sort of chipping away at my rough spots, too,” said Faul. “And that’s where I am today, still working to be a better person.”
She says this might be her last project at PAFA, but not her last sculpture – she has a studio at home in Swarthmore and carves every day.