Artist of the Month Exhibition: Darlene Foster

From May 1 through 31, Gallery on Main's "Artist of the Month" series of exhibitions showcases Plainfield, New Jersey-based artist Darlene Foster's work in photography montage — the technique of producing a new composite whole from fragments of photographs.

Meet the artist at a free opening reception at Gallery on Main on Friday, May 5 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Each individual piece has a story to tell, and you will have the opportunity to ask her in person for her take on each of her pieces. Refreshments will be served. Join us for what's sure to be another memorable evening!

Initially using photography as a reference source for drawing and painting, Darlene Foster soon began experimenting with different techniques within the photographic medium itself. The love of photo montage from her darkroom days drew her into digital, when she was introduced to the computer as an art tool. Her affinity for old buildings and abandoned properties along with crows, ravens and blackbirds is apparent in the majority of her work. Gathering elements from her own images as well as characters from vintage photos she acquires at flea markets and antique shops, she blends them together forming new and often storytelling compositions.  Darlene's work has been described as mysterious, moody, wistful, surreal and sometimes dark but always thought-provoking.

Says Darlene, "I've always been a collector at heart, so my photography naturally evolved from concentrating on a single composition in the camera as the end product, to capturing images of anything that intrigues me for later use in a montage. Antique and vintage objects that have had previous lives are elements I collect that eventually find their way into my work. It's difficult to predict what will be a starting point for a new piece: A landscape with an unusual tree, a mysterious abandoned building, or the haunting eyes peering from a vintage portrait. Once I have a starting point, I bring components together piece by piece digitally in Photoshop until I'm satisfied with the composition. From there, I experiment with multiple filters, tones, colors and textures until the final image is as close as possible to the original idea in my mind's eye."

Say Michelle Mundt, co-owner of Gallery on Main, "Darlene's work is a natural fit for our space because it represents art, photography and antiques at the same time. We were immediately drawn to Darlene's work because we share a love of not only art, but also images and objects that resonate with echoes of the past and help tell a compelling story."

Co-owner Shaun Daley continued, "Our visitors will recognize her work, because we've displayed individual pieces of hers since we first opened, and her work has been a top seller. This is a great opportunity to see more, and perhaps add one to your collection."

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Darlene Foster studied drawing and painting at The Sarah Brown School of Art before moving to Plainfield, New Jersey in 1977. An interest in photography led to a 17-year employment as the retouch artist for a prominent studio, and provided on the job training when digital came along in the 1990s. In addition to producing her own artwork, she is currently self-employed, providing photographic painting, retouching and restoration to photographers and the general public.

Darlene regularly exhibits at various galleries and venues throughout the New Jersey area, including River Queen Artisans Gallery in Lambertville, Hamilton Street Gallery in Bound Brook and Gallery on Main in Somerville. Her work is held in private collections throughout the United States.