Spring Campaign Feature: Malynn Foster

Published: June 16, 2021

Categories: Featured | Spring Campaign

We spoke with multidisciplinary artist and Squaxin Island tribal member Malynn Foster as part of our 2021 Spring Fundraising campaign. Malynn spoke with us about how best to support artists during this time and in the future, how the wisdom of her ancestors got her through this past year, and more. Our support for artists depends on you! There are only two weeks left to support our Spring Fundraising Campaign. Help us reach our stretch goal of $75,000 by June 30! That’s $20,000 to raise in two weeks!

Your gift today, in any amount, will help provide critical support and services for artists through the end of the pandemic and beyond. Donate here – thank you for your support!

On the resilience of artists and what has inspired her:
Resilience to me is strength and adaptability. The ability to hold it together in rapidly changing times and circumstances is something my elders and ancestors have been forced to do for generations. So as this crisis unfolded in real-time, my husband and I asked what our ancestors did, our elders. How did they survive the great depression and the Spanish Flu? We turned to the wisdom of our ancestors.

There have been so many inspirational things this past year. It’s funny how when you start your days with prayers of gratitude and connecting to our ancestors, how inspiration becomes a natural byproduct of that kind of love in action. My son inspired me beyond words. He has Asperger Syndrome and I was really worried about how he was going to be able to adapt to this whole new world. He was so amazing! At every turn, there were changes in schooling, teachers, schedules, over and over again and he was able to roll with it. He didn’t just roll with it though, he soared. He wrote powerful poetry and was a voice of activism in his classroom, always teaching his teachers something new about the struggles of people of color or the history of his people. While he’s always inspired me, he showed me how resilient all of us can truly be.

How she’s different from a year ago:
We brought our smudge bowl and ceremony back to life, starting every day connecting to our ancestors and creator and found great peace connecting to the land in a whole new way every day. I actually got closer to my family during a time in life when we couldn’t gather. I found for us as a family, the most important thing to remember is we come from strong resilient people and the values of living in a longhouse community where we could never be alone even if we wanted to. Remembering we are all one, and what we do to ourselves affects everyone else, including these lands and waters. One of the most notable changes has to do with putting in a huge garden. Taking care of the plants every day forces me to slow down and find the patience I didn’t even know I had within me. Slowing down to the speed of tides, winds and seasons has reset my priorities in life. While I still strive to find balance in my life, I am closer than I’ve ever been.

What support artists and artist communities need:
Artists can always use more money. I really think it’s different for all artists what their needs are and those needs are always changing. A sense of community and support is huge for artists. A platform to talk about their work and issues that affect their community is critical for many. One thing I noticed for many artists with the galleries being shut down this year, it caused depression and anxiety with a lack of income and outlets for their work. It would be amazing to develop a cohort of artists to support one another in setting up markets, websites, understanding how to apply for public works, or how to get into doing museum exhibits for those who have work with messages they’d like to share with the world. Art is part of a larger conversation and when it isn’t being shared with the world, it goes not just unseen, but unheard. Art isn’t just culture; it helps to shape cultural perspectives and changes conversations to create change in the world.