Award-winning Art Major Expanded Horizons with Business Administration and Museum Studies Minors

Jacob FosterBy Sam Starnes

Jacob Foster transferred to Rutgers University–Camden from Camden County College two years ago because he wanted to paint his way to an art degree.

“I really loved my painting classes,” says the Waterford resident who will graduate from the Rutgers–Camden College of Arts and Sciences at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden on May 17.

He turned that love into two awards at the Arts and Sciences convocation on Thursday, May 11, when the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts honored him with the Stedman Purchase Award. It includes the acquisition of four of his works by the university’s Stedman Gallery. Foster’s series, “Me and My Father,” will become part of the gallery’s permanent collection.

“It is an immense honor to be put into a collection of art that includes artists like Dali, Segal, Frankenthaler, and Grandma Moses,” he says. “It is even more of an honor to have my work stay in a school that has been a second home and with a community that has been a second family.”

Foster also received the John J. Giannotti Award Fine Arts Service Award for service and all-around excellence in visual art from the Rutgers–Camden Department of Fine Arts.

A painting from Jacob Foster's series "Me and My Father"

An oil and charcoal piece from Jacob Foster’s four-part series “Me and My Father.”

Learning the “Business of Art”

Although highly decorated for his artwork, Foster will graduate with more than an artistic education. He began broadening his horizons when a professor encouraged him to get involved in extracurricular activities and consider opportunities outside of art courses.

“I started to think about my arts degree and other things I can do to branch off of it,” he says. “One thing I could do was to learn about art galleries and museums—the actual business of art.”

With that goal in mind, he added a minor in business administration.

“It really is a practical minor for anything that you can do,” he says, adding that a Business Communications class was very helpful. “It taught me to write concisely and to the point.”

He also earned a minor in museum studies that included a curatorial internship at the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial. He archived items and helped to curate exhibits, including showing the original Tiffany & Co. silver presentation, some of which dates back 1906. Foster helped transfer the silver from Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion in Trenton, to Camden.

“That was a little nerve-racking,” he says. “If we got in an accident, we had thousands of dollars of silver with us.”

Foster also was active on campus in the Art Students League, curating shows in the Student Works Gallery and leading monthly student tours to visit gallery openings in Philadelphia.

“In a field that’s as difficult to get into as art, it’s important to make connections,” he says.

Foster and Saidie Lopez with a self-portrait Lopez painted for the Selfie/Self-Portrait show. Foster developed and curated the exhibit in the Rutgers–Camden Student Works Gallery.

Finding his Way

A 2011 Hammonton High School graduate, Foster attended a seminary during his first semester in college, but decided to change course.

“That’s part of life—figuring out what you want to do,” he says. “I was finding myself. Afterward, I realized I should just do art. It’s what I wanted to do anyway.”

He enrolled in Camden County College and studied there until he transferred to Rutgers–Camden in fall 2015.

“The transfer here was very easy and it seemed natural,” he says.

He is now applying for paid, full-time internships in New York at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He also plans to apply to graduate programs to earn a master of fine arts degree.

Foster already has had success in placing his work beyond the Rutgers–Camden campus. His painting, “My Aunt’s Pool,” which was featured in his senior thesis project, was selected for an exhibit in Virginia judged by the curator for modern art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

He credits his success to Rutgers–Camden faculty mentors who have helped him in many ways, including giving guidance on grant applications. While a student, he applied for and was awarded two Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities grants that support students at Rutgers–Camden.

“The funds were so helpful in getting the materials and covering the costs,” he says, noting that oil paintings on large canvases are expensive. “It allowed me to do things that I would not have been able to do otherwise. It also gave me the confidence to do them, too.”

Foster says faculty members, although “acclaimed in their field,” always made time for him.

“If I come back here 20 years from now and they are still here, they will remember exactly who I am.”

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