We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle Foster and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danielle, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
When I was little and prompted with a similar question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would answer, without hesitation, “An Artist”. Art has always played an important and crucial role in my life. Beyond just being an expressive outlet, it truly feels like a safe space for me. Making art has helped me through the dark times, kept me shining through the good, opened my eyes when I was not even aware they were closed, and helped me speak when words were not enough. I am beyond fortunate to be able to say that I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do as a kid. In a lot of ways, I feel as if I am an artist in part because I owe it to that shy, goofy, outcasted kid drawing during recess. But honestly, I am an artist because I couldn’t imagine being anything else.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I would categorize myself as predominantly a painter, occasional mixed media artist, horror lover and alizarin crimson enthusiast (we’ll get to this later). Currently I’m a full-time artist and graduate student at Otis College of Art Design.
My story began as an entirely self-taught artist until late 2017. Prior to making the leap to pursue an art education, I started college as a psychology major. During this time, I started to develop a deep interest in the complexities and grimness of the human mind – Specifically, regarding the line dividing the conscious mind from the unconscious mind (something that would slowly trickle into my practice overtime).
After receiving my AA in Psychology, Humanities and Behavioral Sciences as well as my BFA in Art – I felt like my career as an artist was just beginning and there was so much more to learn. I felt overwhelmed with ideas and concepts but still wasn’t entirely sure what my practice was and who I was a now “professional” artist. I was craving more education – a more focused and directed approach to being an artist. I began to get excited about the idea of going to grad school for art. I remember applying to a few schools and thinking, “there is no way I get in on the first shot”. I was notified of my acceptance to Otis’ MFA program in early March 2020 (dun dun dunnnnn) and would start in August that same year.
I would definitely categorize 2020 as being the year that brought some significant changes in my work and of course, myself. The lock-down and stay-at-home orders forced me to become aggressively aware of anomalies within my own behavioral tendencies (we can thank my psychology background for that). In the process of sorting through old photos, dairies, keepsakes, etc., I began to develop an obsession in discovering the root cause of some of these newfound issues: Was this something engrained generationally? Is this something that can be pinpointed to a specific moment? What this something learned? What this something taught?
My current practice positions itself between both my previous educational background as well as my interest in (and second love) horror genre/film noir. My work explores the function of memory with an interest in revealing how unsettling the mind has the potential to be. Speaking to both personal and familial histories, my practice questions or rather, confronts the accuracy and reliability of memory. Specifically, interrogating experiences recalled from adolescence that have had a substantial impact on my personhood and sense of self today – A process in which I’ve been referring to as “analyzing the stain”. This phrase referencing not only a moment’s ability to more or less “stain” the mind but also; Calling attention to my distinct warm color pallet that practically “stains” all my works in an alizarin crimson hue, a hue that tends to make its way into many of my favorite horror movies as well! (To reiterate, major alizarin crimson enthusiast over here).
There is a certain heaviness and uneasiness in my work that exemplifies the struggle in the process of this excavation of self. Illustrating how we process and archive moments of impact, I utilize techniques such as blurring, repetition, and symbology. While my mixed media approach is meant to negotiate concepts of the internal and external, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, imagination and reality.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Okay, I love this. Let’s start with my favorite Coffee spot at the moment: It’s the cutest lil spot in Culver City called ‘Super Domestic’. Dare I say, best latte in LA.
To eat: I’m a sushi gal, but I’m also an atmosphere gal. Kahuna Tiki in North Hollywood will give you both x10! Total Tiki room at Disney vibes (in the best way)
To drink: Favorite bar for years has been The One UP in Sherman Oaks – amazing drinks AND retro arcade games. Really can’t beat it.
To hang out: Best beach in SoCal will always be Leo Carrillo off PCH. If you can’t find me, I’m probably there.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have so so many people that deserve to be recognized in my story but I’ll try to keep this short and sweet-
I am so grateful to have such an amazing support system between my family, friends and amazing partner. They are all my biggest fans, and I really don’t think I would be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for them always cheering me on from the sidelines.
I have also been absolutely blessed with some incredible mentorship from my professors in undergrad at CSU Channel Islands and now, in graduate school at Otis College of Art and Design. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be half the artist I am today without their support, guidance, motivation and of course, brutal honesty.