Education has been a focal point in Foremost’s life for as long as he can remember.
“My grandmother was my first teacher and everywhere we went was her classroom,” he says. By the time he was a high school student, Foremost knew that he wanted a teaching career so after two years at community college in his native Santa Ana, CA, he moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, where he finished his undergraduate degree in art history and went on to obtain a master’s degree in education as well as a teaching credential.
Finding employment as an educator proved to be more challenging in the midst of a substantial hiring freeze at the Los Angeles Unified School District but Foremost began his career teaching elementary school children. He found the work rewarding. But like many educators, it took its toll.
“You give so much of yourself every day because you want your students to be prepared,” he says. “Your greatest accomplishments as an educator often come when you see your students achieve theirs.”
Soon a passion for advocacy brought Foremost to P.S. Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing arts education to schools in marginalized communities throughout Los Angeles County. In his role at the organization, Foremost helped to facilitate schoolwide arts leadership teams made up of teachers, administrators, counselors, and parents.
“Together we created strategic arts plans that sought to answer how the arts could bolster academic success, increase family involvement, and improve the overall school culture and climate,” he says. “Doing that work wasn't easy but I fell in love with the people that I worked with and the cause we were all committed to.”
Despite his passion for this mission, there was a deeper desire within Foremost that he knew, eventually, he would have to reckon with. While he was pleased with the opportunity to help his students and their families through his work at P.S. Arts, his own passions as an artist and advocate were strongly percolating inside of him.
Foremost was not aware that CalArts existed until the summer of 2019 when he was on a business trip to Washington, DC. He had suggested to a colleague that he was thinking about leaving his job to pursue an MFA in Art when she suggested that he should take a close look at the Institute.
“While flying somewhere over Nebraska or Colorado, I reached a point when I could no longer defer my dream of art-making,” he says. He entered CalArts in Fall 2020 as an MFA Art student, and the recipient of the Flora Hollingsworth Hurschler “Good Citizen” Scholarship, which provided him with substantial support.
As one of the original members and artists of Black Lives Matter/Los Angeles, Foremost’s art-making is squarely focused on uplifting Black lives.
“I want my work to celebrate our magic, seek to heal our predicament in American society, and imagine a new world rooted in freedom and love,” he says. In practice, the Black Lives Matter movement has deeply impacted Foremost’s work in profound ways.
“I identify as a revolutionary artist,” he says, “This looks like serving the people and being committed to the struggle for liberation. It is a social practice of art-making and when the movement calls, as a revolutionary artist, you answer.”
Foremost’s art uses everyday materials and spaces to think about their uses, how those uses are fluid, and how that drives his imagination to speculate and appropriate new “playgrounds” as well as reclaim “playgrounds” for the Black being. His work is aimed at disrupting and subverting the normal state of affairs and systems of oppression while simultaneously staying within a dream space, a real space for evoking ephemeral laughter, pleasure, and enjoyment but permanently revealing socio-political conventions and biases.
“It is exhausting to physically and mentally live in constant crisis so I too make art that explores joy and imagines a world that is not yet but could be.”
Watch: fifteen hours
A digital video that features two Black beings, artists Foremost and Dionna Ndlovu, as they explore Black liberation through imaginative play in various outdoor rural spaces and private property around Humboldt County California.
Learn more about Foremost and his work on Instragram: @4oremost
You can also watch play