Mary Sue Foster

Professor of Art Education

JPEG ImageMFA and MSEd., Textiles and Art Education, University of Kansas
BAE, Art Education, University of Kansas

Professor Foster received the Western Region Art Educator of the Year, awarded at the National Art Education Association's 25th annual convention in Dallas, TX, in 1985. She has served two elected terms on the eleven-member Board of Directors of the National Art Education Association (NAEA). In 1986-1988 she was the regional Vice-President of the Western Region, and in 1995-97 she served as the Director of the Higher Education Division. As Vice-President, she presided at the NAEA Delegates Assembly of state association leaders during two conventions. Before being elected to the national offices, she served as President of the Kansas Artist-Craftsman Association, and as the President of the Kansas Art Education Association. She has received numerous grants in support of her work promoting visual arts education in the Midwest.

Professor Forster also has extensive international work.  She took a sabbatical leave to study art education practices in Japan, and based on that research was awarded additional funding to return to Japan to continue her investigation.  Six and a half months of traveling and collecting in Japan resulted in several lectures at the international, national and regional levels as well as published academic papers. The opportunity to study ancient Japanese textiles, such as the multi-strand silk braid kumihimo worn with the kimono but first used by the samurai during feudal days in Japan, informed her decades-long studio practice in textiles and fibers.

She adapted other textile techniques observed in Japan, such as ikat – a where the woven fabrics utilize tie-dyed techniques with the warp and weft threads before weaving. Professor Foster used this for textile pieces made for the 2013 Faculty Biennial and other exhibition purposes.

Her travel to Ghana resulted in the opportunity to weave a small piece on a kente cloth loom in Bonwire, a village known especially for producing this technique.  Since young boys and men are the kente cloth weavers, they expressed surprise and delight when a foreign woman used the loom efficiently.

Another trip taken to Turkey allowed Professor Foster to observe the felting process used for many functional pieces.  An adaptation of this process is used to felt fine wool into a piece of fine silk. The shrinkage that results produces a linear pattern on the hand-dyed fabric. Professor Foster’s work in this technique has also been exhibited regionally.

Professor Mary Sue Foster received a 2002 Mini-Fellowship Award in the Visual Arts from the Kansas Arts Commission for her exemplary hand-woven and dyed shoulder cloths.

mary.foster@wichita.edu | (316) 978-7718 | McKnight 124