Joel Foster’s work is all the more remarkable because he is legally blind. He has learned to work with tactility using the manipulations of masking tape along with infinite patience to achieve each line. His method comes out of his insistence on process and the results are sharp and spontaneous in feel.
With an emphasis on abstract principles, Foster’s core imagery draws on architectural forms that dissect and present the man-made world. The apparent ease of some of the lines appear as though done by a child, belying the actual sophistication of the image.
Foster states that he is more influenced by things man-made than by nature and that he is interested in the places where man and nature intersect.
His paintings are built from layers of basic colors, depicting deceptively simple images: some from his childhood, others from this world, or his imagination: staircases, ladders, road markings, doors and wheels.
On the scaffolding of such images, Foster repeats a series of sometimes humorous variations of the same theme, like a jazz musician, riffing the same rhythm over and over again. Purely abstract integrity is never sacrificed, but the identifiable objects repeat in odd combinations, the staircase, perennially, perhaps speaking different meanings to each viewer.
The work is definite and crisp. Our knowing more about the artist’s work process adds to our understanding. Having become legally blind in 2008 with a genetic condition called Stargardt’s Disease that blocks all central vision, Foster now works with new methods to overcome his handicap.
We can not strictly categorize Foster in any one way: color specialist, hard-edge artist or abstract painter. Rather, he draws on all of these and more. And even if an image of his comes from a ladder he once scaled, he gives that ladder some universal quality.
Joel Foster attended SUNY Purchase and studied under Tal Streeter and Murray Zimilies. He worked for many years printing intaglio series for other artists and fabricating large metal sculptures for public spaces, as well as working in the the painting and decorating business. He is the recipient of an A.R.T. (Artists Resource Trust) Fund Grant from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation. He has been exhibited at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, the New York State Museum in Albany, a pop-up show on Access Disability in Soho in connection with the Museum of Modern Art and at the RE Institute in Millerton, New York. He is a member of the Blind Artists Society