Nate Fudala is a hit in baseball, art world

By Mari Pothier |
Photo by Nate Fudala

Nate Fudala enjoys making sculptures and functional art out of recyclable materials. He likes painting and drawing but enjoys creating art that has more of a purpose than just hanging on a wall.

Fudala, a Fine Arts major graduating in the spring, is not only a talented artist but a versatile baseball player for the Flagler College men’s baseball team. The four-year player began his baseball career at Flagler as an infielder but developed into a utility player.

“I’m proud of that because I like playing everywhere and I don’t like just being stuck with one title,” Fudala said.

The Saints are currently 22-16 overall and 10-11 against Peach Belt conference teams.

Over the years, Fudala has had the challenge of balancing his major and baseball. He said all student athletes have this challenge but feels the fine arts major is one of the hardest. Doing art projects when the team is on the road is almost impossible for Fudala because he cannot always bring materials to paint or sculpt with on the bus.

“I’ve actually had to do paintings on the bus before on like a long bus ride and it’s terrible,” Fudala said. “Some of them weren’t too bad but the worst part is everybody looking over your shoulder seeing what you’re doing, hitting a bump and messing up.”

Fudala spends hours working on his projects, but most of his teammates do not understand the time and effort that goes into his art work. He said all the other players on the team are either sports management or business majors. On the other hand, his fellow art majors do not understand all the time he has to devote to baseball.

“I’m kind of on my own,” Fudala said.

Head coach David Barnett of the men’s baseball team said Fudala is very talented and may be one of his only players to balance both baseball and fine arts.

“That’s a tough major and it takes a lot of time and so for him to not only be able to balance that but have the time to do both and then to do both well is very impressive,” Barnett said.

Even though his art major is challenging and tedious, Fudala finds the work extremely rewarding.

“I’ve never kept a test or a paper I’m proud of, but a lot of things I’ve made for these classes I’m proud of and are still standing up somewhere,” he said.

In his senior portfolio class last fall Fudala focused on sculptural pieces made out of recycled materials including bottle caps, wine corks and water bottles. For one of his projects he made a life size man out of V8 juice bottles, Gatorade bottles, cardboard and an Arizona tea gallon as the head.

Fudala considers himself a “21st century hippie,” who is concerned with the fate of the environment. This concern is what sparked his interest in making sculptures out of trash.

“I guess even though I’m one person, it makes me feel a little better not to throw certain things away and find different useful things to use with them and maybe show other people different useful things to use,” Fudala said.

He is most proud of his little bottle cap palm trees. He uses pickle jar caps as the base, wine corks as the trunk and Heineken bottle caps (because they are green) for the leaves. He has sold a couple of these sculptures.

However, Fudala was not always interested in art. After visiting art galleries in downtown St. Augustine with his father before starting at Flagler, Fudala realized that art was what he wanted to study in college.

He has enjoyed his art classes, especially portfolio and video art, as well as his art professors, his favorite being Patrick Moser.

“He’s just very clever in his suggestions and the way that he uses criticism,” Fudala said. “He never makes you feel like you’re stupid or you shouldn’t have done that.”

Moser is proud of Fudala’s accomplishments and feels he proves that student athletes can succeed in Flagler’s art program.

“Nate is also a genuinely good person, responds well to being challenged and has the discipline to follow through on his ideas,” Moser said.

Even though art and baseball are very different, Fudala said they actually complement each other well.

“After working on art projects for three or four hours straight, it’s good to go out to the baseball field and sort of clear my mind of that,” Fudala said.

Fudala is continuing to make art and is currently working on a bead curtain made out of wine corks. He also hopes to sell more of his pieces someday, but it is not his top priority.

After graduating, Fudala is thinking about joining the Coast Guard or possibly becoming an art teacher and baseball coach.

“I don’t think it could get a lot better than that,” Fudala said.

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