We are thrilled to announce that Audrey Foster, a lifelong resident of Boston, contemporary art collector, and supporter of local artists has joined the Board of Now + There! Audrey’s steadfast commitment to building more equity in Boston’s art scene extends to a host of Boston's finest art institutions. She serves on the Board of Advisors for both the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (ICA) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and on the Advisory Committee of the MIT List Visual Art Center. In 1999, she and her husband Jim Foster, they have endowed the Foster Prize Exhibition at the ICA to recognize and retain local artists.
We recently sat down with Audrey to get to know what excites her about temporary public art in Boston.
Audrey, there’s a buzz right now about public art. Why do you think it is suddenly so popular in Boston and what can it do for our city?
I believe public art is becoming more important to people everywhere, not just in our city. Much of the draw of public art is that people want to feel connected, want to be part of a community, and desire that feeling of belonging and being part of something. I believe that public art is a relatively easy, accessible way for people to attain this basic human need.
I want our community, the city of Boston and ALL neighborhoods, to be more cohesive, to be more vibrant, to feel more connected and for residents to be proud of their city and their own communities.
I believe strongly that public art projects, when done right – when they involve the residents of a community and their long and short-term potentials are considered – can make a wonderful impact on a neighborhood
For all of these reasons, I believe in the need for more public art in our city.
You’ve watched Now + There’s growth from the beginning in 2015. What's your favorite N+T project and why?
Favorite project? Tough one! I was not supportive of the amount of money spent on the Liz Glynn’s Open House, but, I have loved watching all kinds of people, during different times of day in that space. I loved that fact that Public Trust was set up in three very different neighborhoods [Roxbury, Kendall and Copley Squares] which coalesced such a diverse group of people.
N+T’s first project, Faces of Dudley, that was fabulous and, of course, I love the mural on the Esplanade [Patterned Behavior] unto itself. Inviting people to participate in its creation with an all-women painting crew, is something I value. That kind of engagement was achieved in a different and most beautiful and grand way for the women’s prison project, See Her. And, I love the Accelerator projects because of the way that our Boston artists are being encouraged and equipped to produce their work in communities across the city.
Ok, we’ll make you pick just one later! But before you go, we want to hear more about your philosophy behind supporting local artists. You and Jim have a strong collection of works by local artists and a long history of supporting local artists across multiple Boston institutions. What drives that?
Yes, Jim and I have had a long history of supporting our Boston artist community, we both believe that the arts bring such richness to a city. When we first started with our mission, we were losing too many of our artists to New York. I think this is now happening less so in part because, in general, Boston has become more supportive of our artists. We feel that it is our responsibility to support local artists, maybe to help them find their voices and to receive some public recognition for their work.
When Audrey Foster is not supporting Boston’s local art scene, she can be found searching out art destinations with her husband Jim (most recently a James Turrell Skyspace in Greece), or playing “Gran” with her four grandchildren.