Lisa Foster’s “Historical Figures” series was inspired by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Like many, she had long been inspired by Justice Ginsburg’s persona and accomplishments. Lisa found the images of flowers, gifts and cards laid by mourners outside the Supreme Court, moving and beautiful. This collection of items created a kind of portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of what she had accomplished, the lives she touched, and the legacy she left behind. The portrait Lisa made of her soon after, is a silhouette filled in with flowers, patterns, and other images from the reproduction quilting fabrics that are Lisa’s primary medium. The portrait is titled: How fortunate I was to be alive and a lawyer. The full quote: “How fortunate I was to be alive and a lawyer when, for the first time in United States history, it became possible to urge, successfully, before legislatures and courts, the equal-citizenship stature of women and men as a fundamental constitutional principle.”
That RBG portrait sparked something and Lisa continued the series. She made portraits of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman, styled in the same fashion. Both have direct quotes as their titles. The portrait of Eleanor is titled: The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. and the fabric painting of Harriet is called: Every great dream begins with a dreamer. From “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” She continues this series and has since made portraits of other historical women including Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Lucy Stone.
Lisa says, “I feel as though my portraits stand in contrast to society’s tendency to judge women on their appearances, by eliminating their appearances. My goal is to portray my subjects in a more reverential and holistic manner. These paintings are memorials; installations made from love and sisterhood and reproduction quilting fabrics. They are meditations on each life, an imprint of what was. My work speaks to the impermanence and non-self nature of each of us. These women can be held or seen no longer, but their accomplishments have changed the world, and their words can still inspire and comfort us.”
Such beautiful and moving work!
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