When Andy Saftel arrived at St. Andrew’s in 1975, he was one of eight students in his junior class. For his first two years of high school, he attended Mt. Hope High School, but would find his way to St. Andrew’s on the weekends to visit his older brother, David. Finally his parents agreed to send him to St. Andrew’s.
In the 1970s each student had an on-campus job, and Saftel was assigned to work in the kitchen. But soon after his arrival, the school’s art teacher, Mrs. Hall — aware of his interest in art — created the art room monitor position for Saftel.
With his new title came access to the art room. In his free time he started making clay sculptures on the potter’s wheel. “It became my first studio. It was the beginning of my identity as an artist: my place, my territory, my refuge,” he says.
After St. Andrew’s Saftel studied at San Francisco Art Institute where he further pursued his passion. Since the late 1980s, Saftel has been doing full time studio work and has expanded his portfolio to painting, photography, sculpture, and printmaking.
Although he has lived in Tennessee for much of his adult life, he has not forgotten his New England roots. Saftel, who was born in New Bedford, grew up in the Hopeworth area of Bristol. “We were out as kids all day long, in the water, digging quahogs. Water has a played a big part in my art in different ways. Even water in the planet. I’ve never been overtly social or political, but those ideas are there,” he says.
Two years ago he created a seven-part series of prints, which featured fruit and the writings of his loved ones, for a gallery in Tennessee. He will be donating one painting, “Sunday,” in the series to the auction at the St. Andrew’s 125th Celebration on Friday, April 27.
Saftel hopes to give back to young artists at St. Andrew’s. “I’m blown away by the art building and the theatre program. The opportunities that students have through St. Andrew’s is fantastic. I think it’s important for everybody, for young people to get involved in the arts,” he says.
His own mentorship at St. Andrew’s helped get him to art school. He says, “My time there was incredibly formative. My teachers were fantastic, and I left there confident. To give the painting means a tremendous amount to me.”
Saftel’s experience at St. Andrew’s went beyond discovering his passion for the arts. After St. Andrew’s Saftel and his older brother went their own ways, before David passed away at 24. He says, St. Andrew’s was so meaningful to him, because “that was our time together.”
Five years ago, Saftel returned to St. Andrew’s for the first time since he had graduated. When he returns to campus this April, he will find himself in the classroom again: teaching printmaking classes to art students.