Tag Archives: Alfred

Meet the Artist in Residence: Betsy Foster

Betsy Foster, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the months of February and March 2020, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Betsy some questions about her work and studio practice:

Betsy Foster studio picture

artist in her studio

Q: Tell us about your background.
I’m from Henrietta, New York (about 35 minutes west of Clifton Springs).  I’ve been making artwork for around 15 years now!

In 2011 I graduated with my BFA from Alfred University, and in 2019 I graduated with my MFA from The Ohio State University. My concentration for both fine art degrees was ceramics.

I just moved back to the western New York area this past summer when I finished my Master’s. In addition to my studio practice I teach as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Fredonia.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My practice revolves around the manipulation of ceramic material and carrying out repetitive actions to accumulate multiples. I am drawn to the tactility of clay, of leaving marks in the surface whether they be my fingerprints or that of a tool. The surfaces of my ceramic sculptures and paintings are usually abstracted patterns like grids, lattices, or polka dots stretched or overlapped. I change these patterns on the surfaces to create something different each time.

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Pinnacle Pair, 2019. ceramic, 5 feet x 4 feet x 2 .5 feet.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Nearly every ceramic form I build starts out as a series of sketches done in my studio, a sort of planning process. Two-dimensional sketches become three-dimensional form. I sketch the piece again after it is completed, continuing that cycle of sketching and building, each time abstracting and changing the form, pushing against its specificity. My sketches originate from fuzzy thoughts, or flashes of memories steeped in nostalgia. I’m tapping into these feelings as I explore how my paintings, sketches, and ceramic forms can exist together.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
For my time in the residency, I want to explore the relationship between my paintings and ceramic forms. Having gone the better part of this year without a kiln, I’ve been creating paintings with freeform abstract swatches of color. My work from early 2019 and late 2018 dealt with purposefully distorting patterns across a surface, but with access to a kiln once again I am interested to see how my time working solely in paint has influenced how I glaze ceramic forms. My plan is to create ceramic pieces that have painting counterparts. Being back where I was born and raised in Rochester, NY for the first time in many years has everything steeped in nostalgia. I plan on tapping into these feelings as I explore how my paintings and ceramic forms can exist together, merging surface textures and colors, as sources obscure and abstract in the back-and-forth of two-dimensional paintings/sketches to three-dimensional ceramic forms.

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September Display Case, 2019. ceramic sculptures and paintings installed in a hallway case. roughly 10 feet x 3 feet

 Q: Do you collect artwork?
Besides work from a variety of mediums from friends of mine, I have a collection of ceramic cups, mugs, and plates. As someone in the ceramic community who used to solely create pottery, I have a huge appreciation for handmade cups, mugs, plates, etc. With a few exceptions, I only use handmade ceramic to eat off of! I have gotten most of it from The Clay Studio’s gallery, they are located in Philadelphia (but you can also order online!) NCECA, the annual ceramic conference, is also a place I’ve picked up a few of my favorite pieces. For me, there is a sensitivity, a contemplation, and an awareness present while using handmade objects every day.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I want to say my hands, but I think that’s too cliché. I’m going to say a banding wheel. When building ceramic pieces, I need to be on all sides of it and being able to spin the piece around on something has probably saved my body from aches and pains! Alternatively, for bigger work a dolly from the hardware store (so I can put a large wooden board on wheels to move around) has definitely been a life saver!

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That Pink Painting, 2019. Acrylic paint on canvas, 3 feet x 3 feet.

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
I would say anywhere that I’m traveling where I haven’t been before. If I’m in a new city I usually make a quick stop at a museum or gallery. I frequently drive around for concerts, and I love to make an overnight trip so I can pop into a museum in the morning before a drive back to give me a lot to reflect on during the drive. My more recent favorite was The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. A second runner up response would be the museum I used to work at – The Philadelphia Museum of Art. They have such an amazingly huge collection that they rotate frequently so if you stop in, a lot of the galleries are different than that last time you were there.

Q: What’s next for you?
I’d like to get a kiln to establish my own studio here in western New York so I can continue to create ceramic pieces in my studio practice. And I’m hoping to continue teaching!

Q: Where else can we find you?
Website: betsy-foster.com
Instagram: @betsy__foster

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Cylinder Composition, 2019. Ceramic, brick, acrylic paint, 6 feet x 5 feet x 1 foot.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Britny Wainwright

Britny Wainwright, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of June 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Britny some questions about her work and studio practice:

Artist in her studio.

Artist in her studio.

Q: Please tell us about your background.
Hi, I’m Britny. I grew up just south of the Finger Lakes region, in Owego, NY. It’s refreshing to not have to describe where the Finger Lakes are!

I attended Alfred University, receiving my BFA in 2012. In 2017 I received my MFA from Ohio State University. While both degrees are in fine art, I concentrated in ceramics for both of them.

I now live and make work in Columbus, OH. I first moved to Columbus for graduate school in 2014, and have stuck around for the amazing creative community. I love living in a vibrant city, and Columbus has many great opportunities for artists! I teach as an adjunct instructor at Ohio State and Capital Universities, and maintain a studio practice.

Enduring Blossom, 2017, terracotta, glaze, canvas, wood, foam, house paint. 64” x 54” x 60”.

Enduring Blossom, 2017, terracotta, glaze, canvas, wood, foam, house paint. 64” x 54” x 60”.

Q: How long have you been making artwork?
The earliest memory I have of my obsession with material and making things, was a field trip in preschool. I think it was some sort of career day, but what I lost my mind over was the sand art table! The scratchy sound the plastic spoons made dipping into containers of brilliantly colored sand has stuck with me. I think this experience was the first time I realized making art could be something primary in my life.

I really got serious about being an artist in college. I was very fortunate to attend a fantastic undergraduate program in art — Alfred University’s School of Art & Design. It provided me with a well-rounded art experience, and ultimately I concentrated in ceramics, although my secondary was painting. My minor was in art education, and I even finished my teaching certification before decided to pursue graduate school for an MFA.

Untitled. 2019, felt, painted canvas, trim, fiberfil. 27" x 43" x 6.

Untitled. 2019, felt, painted canvas, trim, fiberfil. 27″ x 43″ x 6.

Q: How would you describe your work?
I’d have to say my work is a granny’s dream of ugly couches, and floral prints, plus material play? Most of my academic training was focused on ceramics, and it deeply influences my work,  but I now maintain a much more hybrid practice of ceramics and fiber. I find both of these mediums, plus painting, are necessary to speak about the content in my work.

I am an artist because I have things to say. As a woman the very act of making work is a feminist act. I try to not discredit my voice before I speak! Placing floral pattern, stitching, embroidery, and bright colors in the gallery is an act of celebration of feminine things. I question the authority of these things in gender and art, and the conceptual consideration these practices receive, or don’t.

Studio shot. Clay motif "tiles" in progress.

Studio shot. Clay motif “tiles” in progress.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
It depends on what I’m making, but most certainly heavy-repetition is guaranteed. When I make works that require ceramic motifs, or tiles as I call them, I start with producing them: rolling slabs of clay, cutting motifs, defining and drilling holes, drying, firing, etc. I then build the structure and stitch on the tiles by hand before upholstering. Ceramics is a long process and sewing is quite the opposite. It’s instant gratification! I’m able to walk into my studio and finish a piece in a few hours — totally unheard of in ceramics.

Lay Your Pretty Little Head. 2019, painted canvas & cotton, terra-cotta, thread, fiberfil. 5" x 15" x 15"

Lay Your Pretty Little Head. 2019, painted canvas & cotton, terra-cotta, thread, fiberfil. 5″ x 15″ x 15″

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’m starting a new body of work I’ve long wanted to make: examining women’s patriotism in America. I will be visiting Seneca Falls, where the Declaration of Sentiments was signed in 1841, demanding that women have equal footing with men under the constitution. I’ve also been collecting visual resources from the 1976 Bicentennial — in particular home decor. I’m intrigued by the trend of domestic patriotism of this time. Especially because women’s public patriotism is sometimes misunderstood as un-American! This local historical research paired with studio explorations of patriotic motif will leave me with a new body of ceramic and fiber work that grapples with women’s patriotism in America.

Also, I’m lucky enough to be able to install a new exhibition in the second floor gallery entitled, power. I will be showing a new ambitious sewing piece, and several other recent works. Exhibition reception is on June 14th from 5-7pm, and artist talk at 6pm!

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
I love DC. The variety of museums is astounding. The East Wing of the National Galleries is good, in particular the Matisse room. The Freer & Sackler is also great, I took a lot of non-western art history courses in college. A lot of very important ceramic history can be found in China, Japan, and Korea, so the Freer is almost always on my checklist. I also love the Lincoln Gallery in the American Art Museum. The Hirshhorn for really great contemporary stuff. Oh, and The Phillips Collection, that Wolfgang Laib beeswax room- drool worthy.

Recreation. 2018, terra-cotta, slip, fabric, wood, house paint, thread. 45” x 50” x 36”

Recreation. 2018, terra-cotta, slip, fabric, wood, house paint, thread. 45” x 50” x 36”

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
In particular to artists thinking about going to graduate school — take time off after undergrad. Those few years are so valuable. I worked as a server, an assistant cook, a substitute teacher, a house sitter, etc. If you power through to graduate school, I’m not sure you’ll really convince yourself why you want to be an artist. That floundering will make you appreciate graduate school so much more!

Q: What’s next for you?
I have quite the busy summer! After my residency at Main Street Arts, I will be a visiting artist at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Arlington, VA for the month of July. I hope to finish this new body of work while in residence there. I also have some upcoming shows for the 2019-20 season! Follow my social media for more information.

Q: Where else can we find you?
www.britnywainwright.com
Instagram: @britny_wainwright
Facebook: Britny Wainwright