M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition: Rachel Foster

November 15–December 16, 2013
Grafly gallery

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.

Rachel Foster, HydraulicRachel Foster, Burrow, 2013. Oil on canvas, 48 x 72 in. Courtesy of the artist