Alumna Explores Boundaries of Illustration and Art

Caricature and sculpture of artist Wayne Thiebaud
UC Davis art alumna Karen Calden Fulk has drawn caricatures and created a sculpture honoring her former art professor Wayne Thiebaud. (Images courtesy of Karen Fulk)
Photo of artist Karen Fulk with sculpture of Thiebaud
Karen Fulk took classes from painter Wayne Thiebaud as an art student at UC Davis. (Courtesy photo)

After a 55-year career as a caricature artist, Karen Calden Fulk (B.A., art, ’65) is creating caricature-type sculptures, including a recent ceramic work honoring UC Davis art professor emeritus Wayne Thiebaud.

“Mr. Thiebaud taught me how to paint and draw, and I’ve been indebted to him all my art life,” Fulk said.

Her tribute to her former teacher is on display at Mickey Abbey’s stained glass studio in midtown Sacramento. She plans to give it to the Thiebaud family.

Best known for his paintings of pies, cakes and other sweet treats, Thiebaud taught at UC Davis from 1960 through 1991. Fulk said she sought to capture the first impression she formed of him in his classroom.

From Disneyland to art galleries

Fulk started her “quick draw” caricature career at Disneyland soon after graduating from UC Davis in 1965. She also has done illustrations for ad agencies and magazines, and her artwork has been exhibited in regional galleries. A pair of psychedelic leather pants Fulk created in 1971 is in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. One of her sculptures will be included in an exhibition opening in May at the Pence Gallery in Davis as part of the California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Arts.

The Thiebaud tribute is part of a series of sculptures by Fulk of famous people, including Janis Joplin, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Audrey Hepburn and George Washington. [See slideshow below.] Among others in the works, she said, are Humphrey Bogart, Ray Charles and Jesus Christ. 

Some of her work can be viewed on her website and her Facebook page. Email her at

Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science