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Foster’s paintings comment on ideal and real of family, motherhood

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – In her paintings, Rachel Foster, whose work is currently on display at Bethel College, looks at family from a myriad of perspectives.

“Candles: Paintings by Rachel Foster” opened Nov. 4 in the Regier Art Gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center.

The introduction to her MFA thesis exhibition at Wichita State University in 2013 noted: “Foster unflinchingly paints her everyday experience as a mother to five children and her loving, yet complicated, familial relationships.”

“The voice of the mother is strong in my domestic scenes,” Foster says in her artist statement. “She is an omniscient force, a conductor, or a referee.

“Building the domestic environment with color and pattern, and representing the daily conflicts and developments with symbolism and metaphor are some of the ways I tell the story of the evolution of the family. The unexpected crisis has become a distinct character in my paintings, an insistent, loud and powerful figure.”

“Foster uses pattern and decoration, much like many feminist artists in the 1960s and 1970s, to subvert the socially accepted definition of an ideal woman, wife and mother and the traditional model of homemaking,” the thesis exhibit introduction added. “Against the reality of her family life, Foster’s overload of color and ornament becomes a comment on the disjuncture between romanticized and reality-based ideas of modern motherhood.”

Foster is a lecturer at Kansas State University and has also taught at Wichita State University and Butler Community College. She has a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from K-State and a master of fine arts degree in painting and drawing from WSU.

She lives in Olsburg, where she divides her time among teaching, working as a clerk at the local post office and caring for her family.

“Candles: Paintings by Rachel Foster” remains in the Regier Gallery through Dec. 2.

Regular gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 2-4 p.m. (The gallery is closed Nov. 24-25 and Nov. 27 for the Thanksgiving break.) There is no admission charge.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2016–17. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu.

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