Foster Bullock, Ph.D.
Foster Bullock earned a Ph.D. from the Department of Art, Art History, & Visual Studies at Duke University in 2019. In addition to developing an expertise in architectural history and theory, ze studied painting with Beverly McIver. His approach to painting began as a therapeutic outlet for creative expression but soon became an opportunity for intellectual engagement and self-care.
His penchant for abstraction was sparked by a project commissioned by the chef and owner of Cucciolo Osteria while in McIver’s class. In a short time, ze began showing his own abstract oil paintings with the Charlotte Art League, Durham Art Guild, and Fuquay-Varina Arts Council. Dr. Bullock serves on the Board of Directors of the Artists’ Alliance of the Triangle and is a member of VAE Raleigh. He continues his art practice out of a home studio in Southern Wake County where ze resides.
My art practice deals with the built environment through abstraction and responds to art and architectural history with feminist and queer interventions.
My study of architecture—from my academic training as an architectural historian at Duke to my exposure to the studio of Peter Eisenman at the Yale School of Architecture—has guided my interest in building materials, urban forms, shapes, and fabrics. In my paintings I give attention to spatial design—particularly interior design—and the textures of walls and surfaces.
My emphasis on the haptic nature of the canvas is informed by the feminist theory of Luce Irigaray and her exploration of the sense of touch as a means of understanding difference and contesting the primacy of vision. The duality of touching and being touched challenges the singularity of simply looking—at art and others. My textured paintings invite the desire to touch and be touched by the canvas. A second element of her work which I employ is the notion of questioning what has been left out and recognizing that the dominant narrative of any field is incomplete. By means of colors, shapes, and lines, I create paintings which similarly interpolate the audience to ask themselves, what is being covered? what is underneath? and what is being hidden?
Related, and equally important, in my oeuvre is the theme of imperfection. My exploration of imperfection is in response to canonical art history, design, architecture, and the digital. My techniques reject the perfection of a straight line required by architects & designers and the digital enhancements used in contemporary art practices to create the appearance of perfect edges. My work’s (mis)use of balance, line, and symmetry critiques the demands of the art world to present perfection and society’s broader obsession with effortless perfection. In so doing, I subvert the legibility of modernism which is used in art history to organize and exclude. This element of my intervention is aligned with the queer theory of J. Halberstam and their work on “the queer art of failure.” Rather than effortless perfection, I present effortful imperfection. Halberstam calls for a practice that resists mastery and privileges the naïve. Together, these strategies of feminist and queer theory and their implementation in my paintings encourage the response of interrogating and imagining the realms of alternative existence and the possibilities of designing and living in future worlds of difference.