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Art & Life with Christina Foard

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Foard.

Christina, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
As a Navy brat, my family moved almost every six months when I was young; and in each new home, I drew imaginary worlds, designed houses, and rearranged my bedroom furniture to assess spacial arrangements. This was my way of controlling my narrative and my space in a rapidly changing backdrop. I became an artist at a specific point in my life when painting became a therapeutic necessity to help me process my circumstances. My marriage dissolved in 2002, and I was suddenly faced with a steep uphill climb: three toddlers, no job (I had recently left my career because my children needed more attention), inadequate financial resources, and nowhere to live. I resolved most of those obstacles over the first few years, but it was painting that helped me navigate my new life as a single parent. It helped me process emotions and visualize my hopes for my family, offering an internal release of sorts, which permitted me to be more present for my kids.

I sought to align my painting network with my employment, so I took positions in arts administration. I began by managing public programs at an art museum, and later I found my sweet spot directing an interdisciplinary Arts-In-Medicine program at an inner city hospital. I painted throughout this bustling time — between stints at soccer fields and school performances. I slowly formed my style and voice in paint and was rewarded by being invited into several galleries and exhibitions. My painting practice, my career, and my family were intricately balanced and intertwined.

In 2012, I met my current partner. In 2014, we married and moved to Athens, GA with our blended family. This move was designed to shock us into unification, and it worked. Four of our kids attended a high school, one attended college, my husband started his new career, and I painted. Isolated in a new town, I decided to get my MFA, something I’d always wanted but had been previously inaccessible. Now that I’m studying at The Dodd @UGA, it is pushing me and pulling me into the refinement I’d hoped for in my work, and deepening my conceptual understanding of my impulse to paint.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My recent paintings have been surrealist worlds: anthropomorphic objects in obscure settings. Sometimes tabletop scenes, sometimes landscapes, sometimes an interior juxtaposed against an exterior. The images nod to shifts in time, movement, and hint at narratives. Each is an autobiographical sensation or memory — dream-like symbols of figures and relationships. The occlusion of information (blockades and blurred spaces) is a primary theme in my work. Like fading memories or bizarre dreams or our daily news, we cannot always discern what we are seeing or hearing.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
In my past, I have found that my painting is more direct and more authentic when my primary income source is independent from painting. This may offer encouragement to those who are forced to create on the periphery of a “day job”. Everything in life feeds art and narratives, and for me, the squeeze of time and the desire to create helped me arrive at clarity in my work once I reached the studio. I would plan paintings at other times, and by the time I got to the studio, I knew what I wanted to do.

Additionally, as artists, we must invest in ourselves. Critical moments of career growth were directly related to risks I took in space and materials. Like any small business, there are moments when you have to push past your comfort zone financially. These investments almost always paid off and shifted my work forward because these decisions also permitted me to stay in higher levels of risk-taking in my work. Experimentation and a plethora of materials helped me remain curious and open.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My work is updated every few months at cfoard.com.

When I began my MFA, I retracted my gallery representation in several cities to keep things simple so that I could focus on academics. Therefore, I currently only have work at Thomas Dean Fine Art in Atlanta.

I also am interested in public art that serves to connect people and spark new conversations. My most recent community project, imaginationsquared.org, is a participatory project that will be exhibited in Fall of 2020 to showcase Athens’ collective stories and symbols of resilience – a theme that is critical to our diverse town, especially in these turbulent times. By telling stories of resilience, I hope the project will help us find and hold common ground.

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