Latino Author and Artist Gives Back to the Community

José Faus to receive UMKC Defying the Odds Award
Jose Faus
José Faus (B.A. ’87)
Artist

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2019, UMKC is honoring José Faus (B.A. ’87) with the Defying the Odds Award.

Faus lived with his grandmother in Bogota, Colombia, before moving to the U.S. at nine years old. He and his brother came to Kansas City in the dead of winter to live with his mother, who’d come to the U.S. three years earlier. While he went through a period of rebellion in his teens, Faus came to realize his knack for writing and has used his journey as a source of inspiration for his work. An artist and writer, Faus is a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective and serves on the boards of Charlotte Street Foundation, UMKC Friends of the Library and Nuevo Eden. He’s been involved in many mural works in the Kansas City area, Mexico and Bolivia, where he received a cultural ambassador grant from the U.S. State Department. Faus reflected on his artistic influences and passion for community. 

How does your upbringing influence your art?

I can honestly say that the experience of being in two different worlds (cultures) influences the way I respond creatively. I am also not concerned with the idea that only one discipline is all we should pursue. I can’t imagine writing without the visual and performing aspect and that comes from being in two places culturally, emotionally and socially.

You’re deeply involved in the Kansas City community. Why is supporting the community and its residents so important to you?

I really believe it is important to create the type of community one is comfortable in. I recall when one could legitimately say there was nothing going on in town but now there are so many things to do. This town is growing culturally and it is exciting to see what that transformation looks like. We are creating this in real time.

Where did the idea for the Latino Writers Collective come from?

I was going to readings around town and seeing voices that did not reflect my experience or my background. There was a group of Latina and indigenous women writers called Las Poetas that did. When they broke up, I remember pressing my friend Angela Cervantes to see if she would be interested in helping form a group of Latinos that would work to help refine our work and present it. We found like-minded folk and created the collective. We started out by meeting at The Writer's Place, and in time started getting our work out and people started coming to our readings.

About the Alumni Awards

Faus will be honored at the 2019 UMKC Alumni Awards on March 15. Proceeds from the event will support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards events have raised more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.

Published: Feb 27, 2019

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