OBITUARY

James Elmo Patrick Fagan

November 27, 1930December 7, 2020

James E. Fagan, of Okemos, passed away suddenly on December 7, 2020. He was 90 years old. Born November 27, 1930 in Peoria, Illinois he was the son of Daniel and Laura Fagan. James enjoyed gardening and was always up for a good conversation on politics. He was an avid Notre Dame football fan as well as the Green Bay Packers.

Professor James Fagan joined MSU’s Department of Art in 1967, bringing with him expertise in painting and drawing developed during his MFA at the University of Illinois. He progressed quickly through the ranks at MSU, attaining the rank of full professor in 1978, in recognition of his profile as a painter and printmaker.

Setting the tone for his career was an early inclusion, in 1973, of his work in the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution’s National Exhibition of Prints. Later in his career, he began to show much more frequently in the Midwest, in exhibitions that traced the outlines of a regional art world. He actively pursued painting alongside printmaking and drawing. His practice was at once broad and idiosyncratic, combining concerns as varied as “the mystery and beauty of peeling paint on decaying walls” and the representation of everyday life, with the fundamentals of line, composition, and color.

Across his five decades’ teaching, Fagan was instrumental in building MSU’s printmaking program, training students in the processes he worked in most frequently, namely etching, collagraphy, and intaglio. He also offered courses in papermaking. He was consistently active in the department’s MFA program, mentoring students in printmaking and other disciplines as they launched their career as artists.

James is survived by his wife Patsy Fagan; two children, daughter Deborah Cummings and her husband Dave, and son Kenneth Black and his wife Karen; four grandchildren, Kaila Black, Kelsey Black, Taylor Cummings and Alec Cummings; and a sister Rita Fagan. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 11:00 at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home-East Lansing, 1730 E. Grand River. There will be viewing preceding the service from 10:00-11:00. Due to Covid restrictions and social distancing attendance is limited per state guidelines. Interment will be held at East Lawn Memory Garden in Okemos.

In honor of James memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1755 Abbey Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823 or to the MSU Art Department, 600 Auditorium Rd., # 113, East Lansing, MI 48824.

  • DONATIONS

  • American Cancer Society
  • Michigan State Univ. Art Dept.

Services

  • Visitation

    Wednesday, December 16, 2020

  • Funeral Service

    Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Memories

James Elmo Patrick Fagan

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Thomas Graham

December 22, 2020

James wife Patsy is my Aunt, of the same age, who I graduated with in 1961. James and I only met a very few times. The last time we saw Aunt Patsy he was not feeling well and didn't see us. He was a very talented artistic man, and a good husband, that I know. We are thankful for the joy he gave to Patsy for many years. Love
Tom Sr and Angelie Graham

marcy purdy

December 12, 2020

Jim was my professor while I was in grad school at msu. he was also a great friend.
kind, compassionate & passionate about art & politics! rest in peace, Jim!
You touched many lives!!!
Marcy Purdy

Kim Bauer

December 10, 2020

Jim was one of the very best teachers and mentors! Always making his thick eyebrows dance when making a point and never leaving without a good laugh. The etching room at MSU had a print storage area above the kerosene vats in the70's and Jim would pull out past student examples of etched line and aquatint that amazed us all. His passion for reworking a surface influenced us all and it was always a treat to run into the faculty show and see what he was up to with carborundum and pigment. Your love of life, art and and humor have made such a positive impact on my life. Thank you! We will miss you Jim.

Shirley Graham

December 10, 2020

I was so happy when Jim became my Uncle. I was already delighted to have him in my life and when He married Aunt Patsy it was the frosting on an already sweet cake.
He always treated me with kindness and my husband and I spent a lot of Christmas's together every year. This year is a sad time without him in our lives and he will be forever in my heart and thoughts. God speed Uncle Jim to the Heavenly Gates.

Rachel Allen

December 10, 2020

Professor Fagan had the best stories! He was on my MFA committee at MSU, and he would come in my studio when the door was open to see how I was doing on my work. My favorite part was that he would always share an interesting story about his youthful antics. I will never forget his laugh while he recounted his memories. Thank you, Prof. Fagan, for your kind words and uplifting spirit. You will be missed.

Kelly Salchow MacArthur

December 10, 2020

MSU's Department of Art, Art History, and Design has lost a kind colleague and respected figure in printmaking. The Kresge Art Center is now a changed place—without Jim's sincere greetings, questions about the family, and true care for each of his colleagues and students. I always appreciated the wisdom and experience he would share, gained through a long and successful career in the arts. May he rest in peace, and his legacy live on. My prayers are with his family.

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