“I don’t think I knew what art was or what art could be until college.” – Jacob Foster.
Jacob Foster, a 2017 graduate of the Camden College Arts and Sciences, comes from a blue-collar, hard working background. It is therefore rather remarkable that he should choose to be an artist. He was not exposed to art much in his youth, and it was not until college that he filled the gap and became acquainted with the art museums of Philadelphia and New York City.
In spite of this, he was always passionate about drawing and coloring. In elementary school he was commonly called the “class artist” and the interest continued throughout high school. However, it was not until later that he began to consider art as a career. Upon graduation he attended Philadelphia Biblical University with every intention of becoming a pastor. However, when that fell through, he attended Camden County College and by the end of his first semester there, he knew that art was what he wanted to do.
When Jacob decided to make the transition from community college to a university, Rutgers–Camden was a natural choice. It was accessible in location and in finance, while also being of high reputation. It also looks good on the many graduate school applications that Jacob has been completing of late.
Once he started at Rutgers, Jacob quickly discovered how intimate the art department is. He formed close, personal relationships with faculty, as well as with his fellow students, and that formed the base of his career network for his post-graduation life.
During his senior year, Jacob interned at the Student Works Gallery. At the time, it shared space with the Rutgers Federal Credit Union, but plans were afoot for the credit union to move, and for the space to be renovated and serve solely as a gallery for student work. Being present in the midst of these changes allowed Jacob to firmly embed himself and help shape the gallery into what it is now.
He worked to generate student interest in the gallery, and collaborated with other academic departments for shows. Over his senior year he developed nine shows in the Student Gallery and, upon graduation in 2017, he was hired as director of the gallery.
Acting as his own dedicated staff, Jacob states that, “I end up wearing a lot of hats.” His tasks include the graphic design for flyers and posters, emails and coordination with department collaborating in a display, accepting and rejecting pieces for exhibition, installing the shows, and writing articles for the Department of Fine Arts newsletter.
Engrossing though the Student Gallery may be, it is not Jacob’s only occupation. He is currently acting as research assistant to Dr. Cyril Reade, Associate Professor of Art History, as he works on a book about the works of New Jersey artist and Rutgers alumnus, George Segal. This work involves hundreds of hours of research and reading on the artist and his work. It is Jacob’s job to organize and contextualize this information, to check dates, and to write footnotes for the text which Dr. Reade writes.
Research is nothing new to Jacob. During his tenure at Rutgers, he twice participated in the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA). The funding he received from the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant paid for his first complete body of work, a series of paintings of clouds and the sky called Skyscape. On his second outing at CURCA, the second grant he received funded his senior thesis body of work, Family Photos. This consisted of a series of paintings taken from his own family photographs, chosen because of his closeness and familiarity with the subject matter. He also arranged for his CURCA work and research to count for academic credit.
Jacob is still very young in his chosen career, and is currently focused on building up his artistic resume. He’s been exhibiting as much as possible, applying to various galleries, and September 2018 will see the opening of his first ever solo show at Stockton University’s Noyes Museum of Art at Krammer Hall in Hammonton. This is particularly gratifying for Jacob because of his admiration of non-profit and university galleries. The show is, as yet, untitled, and will comprise of his Family Photos work, which has grown and expanded since his graduation.
Jacob has been planning on attending graduate school for a master’s degree of fine art, but was taking his time in choosing a university. He applied to various programs, looking for the one with the best to offer him. The search came to an end with his recent acceptance to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been awarded a Teaching Assistantship which will cover tuition for his MFA in Studio Art, as well as providing him with a stipend.
Jacob’s area of concentration at Rutgers–Camden was painting, and he is primarily a painter, but he has recently become interested in other mediums, such as installation pieces, and New Media work. His research on George Segal has contributed to this interest, since Segal was first a painter, then a sculptor, and eventually found ways of combining the two disciplines. Although Jacob has no fixed idea of what is next for him artistically, he is sure that it will span multiple mediums.
Written by Victoria Wroblewski