“An effectual paradox on wheels.”
Chris Foster is a multi-faceted artist working in illustration, screenprinting, collage, sculpture, installation, and yes, even wielding a hammer as a heritage carpenter and superintendent now and then. We are publishing a special issue of his work in a few short weeks: subscribe by July 20th to get it in your mailbox!
To see more of his art, check out our gallery here.
Hi Chris! Who are you and what are you all about?
After graduating from NSCAD (the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design) in 2008, I decided to stay in Halifax. My community in North End Halifax is very nurturing and positive, people who make their own fun and have good politics, there is a real sense of family. Over the years there I worked dozens of different weird jobs. Because the city is so small and centralized, there are lots of opportunities for collaboration and cross-cultivation. I worked with several Artist-Run Centres, I ran a studio collective above a gun shop, I renovated an independent theatre and music space and produced a free quarterly newspaper promoting Halifax based artists. My studio practice includes lots of illustration, design, screen printing and sculpture.
You recently moved from Halifax back to your hometown of Toronto. How do you feel this change of scenery has affected your art practice?
To be honest I have been making a lot less Art. Relocation is a time-consuming process and it has taken me a while to get re-grounded. This spring I landed a full time job as the Superintendent of Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island, a century old grade school that is now operated as an Artist Residency. It is keeping me plenty busy but thankfully I find working on old buildings about as rewarding as making art. I have just moved into a new apartment with my partner and it has an amazing studio space, which will generate lots of new work I hope!
Toronto is a much different context than Halifax and I am finding new influences and observing different themes in the work I see here. It is exciting to me to navigate this new influence and I am curious how it will steep into my work. I am finding myself more interested in installation and performance work as opportunities for these kinds of projects are plenty. I think I am also still processing the shock of image saturation, swamped from the barrage of images that have come with the great digital expansion.
The work that we are publishing is a continuation of your series ‘Frontiers In Real Estate’. Tell us about that work, and the correlation between the two series.
Frontiers In Real Estate was a touring exhibition featuring a series of to-scale model sculptures. The sculptures combine new and old, mixing contemporary vehicles with heritage-style wood buildings common to houses in Eastern Canada. The project was inspired by my work as a Heritage carpenter in Halifax. During this time, the rate of urban development was rapidly expanding, leading to the demolition of heritage buildings and a dramatic increase in the cost of real estate. What resulted is an effectual paradox on wheels, for those wishing to reject the established system of buying deeds to land in order to build property. The sculptures reference a book called Rolling Homes which documents a 1970s subculture that built wood houses onto the frames of antique trucks. The exhibition was shown at Eastern Edge in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Struts Gallery in Sackville New Brunswick, Gallery Connexion in Fredericton, New Brunswick and at The Odd Gallery in Dawson City, Yukon. My series of illustrations for Papirmass is research for the next round of sculptures I hope to produce next winter, expanding the series into new directions.
Is the end of the world nigh?
It always amazes me that despite the overwhelming problems we face and the destruction that currently swirls around us, humans go about their daily lives with seemingly willful ignorance. Climate Change, flooding, fires, Peak Oil, poisoned oceans, unsustainable development, sweeping demographic change, attacks on public services, attacks on access to abortion, the slow march to Fascism in Canada, widespread corruption, unprecedented political revolutions, open air genocides, recent revelations of the panopticon of total global technological surveillance, the fortification of the Global Corporate Slave State, rising tensions in Geopolitical conflict.. Fuck it, let’s watch Netflix.
Assuming that life goes on, what’s on your plate for the next year? Any new developments and exciting events?
I am working on a series of 12 full body plant suits for a performance at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s First Thursday in January. If it goes according to plan there will be a fake forest wandering the galleries of the AGO. I also recently got news that I won a Canada Council production grant to produce more scale model works in my series Convoy. I am really looking forward to that!
Any road trip plans this summer?
In August I head to Nova Scotia for the sixth year of the White Rabbit Open Air Art Project, a week long Artist Residency on the Bay of Fundy. I have worked in various capacities on this project since the beginning and this year we expanded the program to include a extra month of week long intensive mini-residencies. The project keeps gaining momentum and funding, it is really awesome seeing this project continue to grown sustainably and attract quality people. I hope to bicycle to Hamilton and explore more neighbourhood nooks and back alleys in Toronto.
Chris Foster is our August 2014 artist.
This is a taste of what’s to come when we release his print at the beginning of the month.
Papirmass is an affordable art subscription that delivers 12 prints a year featuring fresh art and writing.