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*Artist Spotlight - Steph Foster*

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Photographer & Owner of Athenaeum Editions, Steph Foster, Delivers Keynote Speech @ MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art)

By: Xavier Hardison

November 5, 2023

The art world is small, and it's funny how relationships naturally grow. I recently attended a conference at MICA this past weekend, where a former RISD contemporary was noted as keynote speaker. I was familiar with his work as we previously met at Rhode Island School of Design, and had great conversations surrounding black masculinity and art industry navigation. Steph Foster is a joy to be around, an energetic people-person, and an eclectic world traveler (ie. his instagram handle, @parisiendurag). Steph and I had an instant connection in Providence, RI and actively participated in amplifying each others artistic vision. I had the honor of acting in Steph's short film, Chain in 2019 to be published in 2020. After my summer fellowship at Yale Norfolk in 2019, Steph purchased the only painting that still exists today titled, A Hard Place, from our Norfolk group show in Connecticut.

Our ongoing dialogue is representative of the exciting, mutually beneficial relationships which can form in the arts community. Even though we have different paths, we constantly revisit topics and challenge our ideas while being supportive of each other.

Steph's keynote speech was spectacular. He notably brought up the importance of maintaining a level of fun in his work, and explained how different methods of fun can better shape our relationship with ourselves, our peers, and our work. He has recently started his publishing company, Athenaeum Editions, where he works to champion emerging artists by hosting exhibitions & publishing limited edition prints of their work.

I want to encourage all the creative leaders out there to be intentional in forming your communities. Being vulnerable and meeting new people is important, but also remember not to force conversation. It's always best to let things happen organically. You will feel incredibly empowered when you surround yourself with people who express mutual respect for your practice AND push you to improve!

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