Hannah Foster


I believe that part of what I’m showing is the growth and evolution of never-existing objects frozen in moments of their development.


Originally from the suburbs of St. Louis, MO, Hannah Foster (b. 1989) is a painter, sculptor, and installation artist currently residing in Minneapolis. Inspired by the absurd, abject, and humorous, she manipulates found objects and cheap domestic materials in a playful quest for more knowledge of what exists beyond, around, or under what we understand as reality and our expectations for how objects exist in it. Hannah received her BFA from Maharishi International University and her MFA from Pennsylvania State University in 2019. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally with recent installations at Satellite Art Show in Brooklyn, NY, and 601ArtSpace in New York City. She is currently art facilitator for Fresh Eye Arts/MSS, a non-profit supporting individuals with disabilities in the Twin Cities.


My work encourages play, curiosity, and presence to viewers among a strange world where recognizable objects and materials are integrated in bizarre and humorous ways. In folklore of the Shinto religion of Japan, ancient texts discuss Tsukumogami, the general term for an inanimate object that has gained a soul and self-awareness after serving its owner. In my recent work, I integrate the narrative of this tale with objects that seem to be evolving into living beings by growing arms, legs, and other human parts. By blending aspects of pop-culture, consumerism, and surrealism, I construct work that immerses the viewer in a surprising world of uncertainty and comfort. Now a participant, the viewer has entered a funhouse of benign unpredictability.

As Collapsable as a Ford Bronco - 2019

Many pieces feature tenuous physical connections, either to themselves or to other pieces. Can you elaborate on your formal and conceptual use of these connections?

I believe that part of what I’m showing is the growth and evolution of never-existing objects frozen in moments of their development. Areas of attachment are hazy and uncertain, as if a piece might break. Imagine the birth of a baby horse, deer, or the like -- standing on its legs is its first physical challenge after the unavoidable drop to earth. It’s humorous, strange, and joyful to view these natural moments of maturation. In many ways, I see my sculptures as individual entities transitioning to something new. I tend to reuse parts of sculptures so that their development and experience continues, and their lives develop a history much like ours.

The Swell - air-dry clay, found wooden legs, acrylic paint, wire, paper & tape - 2018

Your installations present as fantastical, DIY-inspired playgrounds. Can you tell us more about your aesthetic considerations?

I’m highly influenced by kitsch, especially in regard to consumerism -- small souvenirs mass produced or road-side attractions in the middle of nowhere -- along with the human body and how strange and wonderful it is. I’m far more fascinated by the beauty of the abject than by traditional beauty. My color choices and loose handling of materials are inspired by pop-culture of the ‘80s and ‘90s. I’m a sucker for janky film sets, B movies, DIY horror effects, and adult cartoons. I’ve realized that humor plays an important part in my work, as well. That’s my personality coming through. I know that I’ve made the right choice aesthetically in a work if I laugh at the result.

As Collapsable as a Ford Bronco - detail

Your work addresses our understanding of reality and our expectations regarding objects’ existence within this reality. Can you tell us more about the relationship between reality and

objects? Are you crafting an alternate reality?

I like to think I’m crafting an “in between” reality. I have the belief that whatever one imagines exists somewhere, here or in another realm; no thought has ever been unrealized. I create works with unusual connections, many times with found or recognizable objects, and put them in a unique situation to feed the notion of what could be or what may be. My hope is that this facilitates an openness to innocent wonder, to not knowing anything and everything. I want people out of their head and into their bodies, truly. Thoughts are overpowering. This is a reason I typically allow for viewers to touch my sculptures. The involvement of multiple senses brings an individual to a more present place. There are so many varied surfaces, and it’s the most natural human reaction to want to touch the work. Especially in a world of technology, I find this innocence of interaction most relevant.

Attack! - air-dry clay, found picture frame, fabric, wire, paper, glue & acrylic paint - 2018

Material choice seems to be a very important component within your work. Can you discuss

how and why you select particular materials?

Many of my materials are cheap and easy to find. I make my own air-dry clay from PVA glue, flour, cornstarch, toilet paper, and water. To take something found in a home and change it to a material to build with is beautiful and defiant to me. This nods again to my anti-consumerist attitude. I’m highly interested in accessibility and the ability for my work to be entered in some capacity by all; I work for a non-profit for individuals with disabilities and have had studio visits with children. This means easily understandable materials. I also tend to use found objects as a base or starting point in my work. I find it challenging to create completely from scratch, so having an assortment of objects I’ve collected from resale shops gives me physical resources to play with to begin the process. I usually choose these based on texture, color, surface, and their ability to be altered. I think about the potential history of an object I plan to use -- was it under a sink? A closet? What types of other objects did it interact with? What kinds of people used it? What caused this scratch on the side? Although the outcome of my work doesn’t contain it currently, fictional narrative plays an important role in my process.

As Collapsable as a Ford Bronco - detail

Your installations, though exhibited indoors, feel a bit like outdoor playgrounds, green spaces, or even softened architecture. How do you think about space, location, and use within the work?

Part of my installations being indoors has been my attempt to shift the white box into a lesser-recognized space. There’s still an entrance point for those who know and recognize art as existing there, but I’d like for my work to defuse the weight of a gallery. Big task, I know, and I don’t quite think I’ve succeeded yet. For the future, I’m considering outdoor installations, but being the extremist I am, I’d want them in the middle of the desert or on the top of a mountain. Since moving to Minneapolis, I’ve begun more entranced by water (Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”) and how my work can exist within or alongside it.