Velma Alvada Foster was one of the first artists in Calgary to focus on printmaking when it was still a relatively minor art form. Born in Maidstone, Saskatchewan in 1938, Foster moved to Calgary to study at ACAD under Illingworth Kerr, Ron Spickett, Stan Perrott, and Ken Sturdy (1957-61). Further studies included attending Emma Lake Summer School with British artist Harold Cohen (1966); training with Japanese printmaker Toshi Yoshida (1968) and American printmaker Andrew Stacik (1969); and learning etching and intaglio printing at the Pratt Graphic Workshop in New York (1969-70).
Foster made substantial contributions to Calgary’s fledgling art community from 1957 to 1977: she taught at the Calgary Allied Arts Centre, Alberta College of Art, City of Calgary (Recreation), and University of Alberta (Extension Department). She also designed silkscreened posters for the Calgary Allied Arts Centre and Mac Theatre.
Foster returned to Saskatchewan in the mid 1970s to set up her home and studio in an historic church in Bresaylor. She helped to create the Bresaylor Heritage Museum Association in 1984, and continues to be involved with the museum while taking commissions for her own work. In addition to printmaking, Foster works in acrylic, oil, pen and ink drawing, watercolour, and photography.
Foster has exhibited her work across Canada and abroad for over 45 years. Her work has been included in such prestigious shows as: 4th International Miniature Print Show, Pratt Institute, New York (1971); 4th International Print Show, Krakow, Poland (1972); Calgary Printmakers, Edmonton Art Gallery (1974); Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan (1983); Multiples: Contemporary Prints from the Glenbow Collection, Glenbow Museum (1987). Her work is represented in collections including: Canada Council Art Bank; Glenbow Museum; University of North Carolina; Edmonton Art Gallery; Alberta Art Foundation; University of Sackville; University of Calgary.