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Making an Impression

09/02/2016

New Associate Professor of Printmaking Megan Foster is inspired by “weird science” and the everyday.

When she was interviewing for a full-time faculty position in Printmaking – her major department when she was a student at RISD – newly hired Associate Professor Megan Foster 00 PR was asked to envision her “dream course,” a class for advanced students that would incorporate new technology with traditional printmaking techniques. She proposed a studio in which students would create stop-motion animations using multiple handmade prints and a scanner, a technique that's become quite popular in the printmaking world.

“I’ve always crossed disciplines in my teaching and my own work,” Foster says, “and I’m excited to work with RISD students. I’ll be teaching at a level I couldn’t reach anywhere else.”

Since Foster earned her BFA in the department, she has returned regularly as a visiting critic while teaching full-time at the City College of New York and working as a master printer at Columbia University. A staunch believer in RISD’s hands-on approach, she says that “people outside the fine arts world still rely on those who can make things with their hands. Printmaking has always been a medium that pushes technology and mass production,” she adds, “but it’s coming back around to limited editions and specialized techniques like etching. And there’s a lot more respect for the medium in the larger art world today as well.”

In her studio practice, Foster has been making large paintings as well as a series of silkscreens using appropriated images, film stills and magazine clippings as a starting point. “My paintings have a cut stencil feel,” she says. “I take a conceptual approach and play with light, creating an illusion using something super flat.”

Citing director Steven Spielberg as one of her early influences, Foster is still developing the notion of “homegrown science projects gone awry” inspired by his films. For example, a recent piece on the BBC about protecting reindeer from traffic accidents by coating their antlers with reflective paint led to her Deer Crossing series, which she describes as “a whole family of deer that glow.”  

Foster is inspired by other kinds of “weird science” as well – glow-in-the-dark designer pets and over-the-top, solar-powered garden decorations popular in contemporary suburban culture. “I'll remake these objects on a monumental scale,” she explains, “highlighting their absurdity while lending authority to everyday stuff.”

As she begins her first semester as a RISD professor, Foster is also preparing for a solo show of new work that will open in late October at Brooklyn’s Black & White Gallery. She’s also planning to continue working from time to time as an independent print publisher under the name Moonlight Editions. The Printmaking department occasionally makes editions with visiting artists, she says – something she hopes to encourage and expand. 

“It’s a great way for students to hone the printmaking skills they’ll need in the professional world,” Foster notes. “The opportunity to connect with professional artists gives them more options after they graduate.”

Foster also believes that it’s important for students to learn from artists who are out in the world producing and showing work. “Students push you to stay current with trends and technology,” she says, “because in the studio you practice what you preach. The learning goes both ways if you let it.”

 –Simone Solondz

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tags: alumni, faculty, Printmaking

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A figure modeling class from 1916.