Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Artist of the Week

@->- (Rose) 2008 Letter Press Print

Rachel E. Foster

There has always been an artful nature behind the way humans choose to translate the sounds they make into a visual form. The alphabet, no matter the language, is the connection of symbol and sound, and it is a beautiful sight. It is the artist's job to take the symbols and images of the world and filter them through their eye, mind, and hand. In a similar fashion, the writer takes these symbols and sounds and combines them in such a way as to explain their thoughts and experiences. It is symbols that tie all art forms together, and ties the artist to the world.

Chicago artist Rachel E. Foster utilizes symbols, specifically letters, to make little artistic statements. At times humorous and at times thought provoking, her work ranges from found playing cards, to a cut-up Bible passages, to ghosts, to blessed dots. Regardless of the statement, her work is always through provoking and extremely clever. What to us is a figure of speech takes on a whole new meaning in Rachel's hand. A graduate of Columbia College, Rachael's work has been shown in several local galleries, but last year she had the honor of traveling to Tokyo and working with the Machida City Museum.

Recently, Rachel was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

"The Name Game" 2008 Letter Press Print

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Rachel E. Foster (RF): I think that all art concerns itself with trying to find a way to show the unseen. Most artists apply that mantra a little more abstractly than me. I’m a literal kinda girl so I literally like to take something intangible and make it tangible.

OA: First of all let me tell you that of what I have seen of your work "99 Problems" is my favorite piece. Why that song and that lyric?
RF: I’m glad you like it. I picked that lyric simply because I thought it would be funny surrounded by a nice, floral border. I want to learn to embroider so I can make a series of gangsta rap lyrics embroidered on pillows.

"Perish Like The Word" 2008 Letter Press Print

OA: I also enjoy your emoticons series. This seems to be a common them in some of your work, modern media and communication in the context of an ancient medium. Is that where emoticons is coming from?
RF: I’m attracted to language because it is some thing that is both seen and unseen. You can diagram it, analyze it, record it, etc. While at the same time its constantly flowing, changing, and growing. The emoticons amuse me because you’re taking some pretty complex ideas, like love, and reducing it to its simplest form.

OA: Your scientific proof of Karma is a fascinating study. Attitude affects outcome, and not outcome affecting attitude. Why gambling, though?
RF: To give a monetary value to the idea of karma. It becomes pretty mathematical, one week of shitty behavior costs X amount of money. Plus, I think most people don’t care about things unless it effects their wallets.

OA: Last year you spent some time in Tokyo. Did your time there influence your work in any way?
RF: Japanese culture is one of the most amazing things I have witnessed. There’s simplicity, a desire for connection, and humility to everything they do. In my more optimistic moments, I like to think of my work as containing some of these things.
I strive to make Asian art even though in no way does my work physically resemble Asian art.

OA: What's next for Rachel E. Foster?
RF: Oh man, I don’t know. (Smiley emoticon). Hopefully grad school.

"Flipping The Bird" 2008

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
RF: Years ago I worked at a coffee shop and I ended drinking so much espresso that when I wasn’t in the bathroom, I was running around like a coke-head….. I’m not much of a coffee drinker anymore.

OA: What type of music do you listen to? Who are a few of your favorite right now?
RF: I like all kinds of music. I have a playlist on my IPOD called “Sensitive White Guys with Guitars” which I’ve been listening to a lot. Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens, etc.

For more information on Rachel E. Foster please visit her website.