M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition: Rachel Foster
November 15–December 16, 2013
The Ulrich Museum of Art is proud to present paintings by MFA candidate, Rachel Foster.
Foster unflinchingly paints her everyday experience as a mother to five children and
her loving, yet complicated, familial relationships.
She focuses on unassuming, personal moments: a quick family breakfast in a messy
kitchen or playtime with plastic toys scattered on the living room floor. The chaos
multiplies and builds around her in the paintings – one baby becomes four babies,
stacks of cereal boxes take over the kitchen counter. Vibrant patterns echo the pandemonium
and already confined spaces become claustrophobic with the weight of floral rugs and
paisley wallpaper pressing in.
Foster uses pattern and decoration, much like many feminist artists in the 1960s
and 1970s, to subvert the socially accepted definition of an ideal woman, wife, and
mother and the traditional model of homemaking. Against the reality of her family
life, Foster’s overload of color and ornament becomes a comment on the disjuncture
between romanticized and reality-based ideas of modern motherhood.
Foster’s paintings boldly demonstrate the complexities of being a parent and the
multi-dimensionality of female identity. This is certainly noticeable in the way that
Foster paints herself – strong, sensual, serene, and at times exhausted. Her intense
self-portraits ground her domestic narratives and are moments of security and calm
within otherwise constantly shifting compositions. Yet, Foster never depicts herself
as a painter. It is as if this is a role that she wants to keep to herself, though
for her, art and life are certainly inseparable.