Laura Boban: Home Base

Exhibition Information
August 7, 2019 - August 14, 2019

The Anderson Gallery, VCU
Richmond, VA


Home Base, a solo-exhibition of recent works by Laura Boban, showcased the artist’s exploration of fabrics and fragmented figures as reference to (as opposed to representation of) the body and its gendered role in suburban environments.

Inspired by Anni Albers’ The Pliable Plane: Textiles in Architecture, Boban applies the modern fiber artist’s theory of clothing and interior textiles as successive layers of skin in order to conjure notions of the body in her works. With second-hand objects, such as sports jerseys, bed-sheets, and furniture pieces, Boban implicates the body through the materials’ corporeal relationship to their former owners. Additionally, she fragments human forms and layers silhouettes, as seen in Fighting Flags and Trouble in the Neutral Zone, to simultaneously render and defamiliarize images of the body. Such methods of abstraction allow Boban to reference the human figure through fabric.

Not only do Boban’s materials recall the body, but they also elicit impressions of suburban life and its gender constructs, specifically those particular to her personal suburban experience. Whereas the hockey player trading cards cast masculine undertones, the springtime flags and sunflower bed-sheets connote femininity. Sports and domesticity therefore become Boban’s metaphors for the normative, dual gender roles she perceived in her upbringing.

By combining these highly charged visual references of domesticity with softball and hockey, Boban blurs once familiar identifiers for masculinity and femininity. In Trouble in the Neutral Zone, for example, she obscures the gender dichotomy by depicting collisions of aggressive, “masculine” athletes in effeminate fabrics - both twisting their gender associations and introducing queer sexuality. Through this process of queering, or creating an indefinable ‘in-between,’ Boban ultimately highlights the effect of binary structures upon spaces intended for belonging, most particularly the home and home teams. Moreover, through queering, she acknowledges the idea of multiplicity in suburban experiences different from her own.

Boban’s metaphor for the queer experience in suburbia also continues in her large-scale sculptures, such as They Never Change (Stack) and Hold Them Up and Keep Them Safe (Kitchen Stack), in which objects representative of sports and the home balance haphazardly upon one another. The works’ structural precarity speaks to the uncertainty of queer experiences in realms permeating with normative gender performativity. Moreover, their positioning reflects the instability and complexities inside the home in regards to normative and non-normative familial structures. Through processes of abstraction and queering, Boban presents the nuances of ‘suburbia’ to disrupt homogeneous perspectives of various suburban spaces.

Fighting Flags, including those featured in Home Base, continue Boban’s abstraction of bodies and blurring of gender assocaitions to sports and domesticity in order to represent the precarity and complexity of queer experiences in spaces premised upon inclusivity. They are also part of an ongoing project in which the artist proactively interjects non-determined narratives into neighborhoods across Richmond and other cities to publicize the broad scope of living experiences. As flags are found in multiple contexts and fashions, these objects naturally lend themselves to the queer concept of indeterminacy.

By reimagining their traditional counterparts’ function as outward presentations of inward beliefs and interests, Boban produces Fighting Flags as reflections of the reality of private home-life with normative and non-normative structures. These works thus display messy visuals as metaphors for the complexities of queer home-life and familial relationships, unsettling the cheerful, normative exterior presented by their counterparts. Adding to this concept, Boban monopolizes upon the transparent quality of tulle as an opportunity to translate the (in)visibility of queer bodies in public and private social spaces. As these Fighting Flags fly in different neighborhoods, they ultimately declare and activate space for the queer experience inside and outside the home.

Laura Boban is a graduate candidate in the Craft/Material Studies program at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2008 she received her BFA in art education and studio arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before starting her MFA she was a high school art teacher for ten years for Chicago Public Schools. Boban has presented at the Feminist Art Project Conference at the University of Kentucky, the National Art Education Association Conference, and has participated in teacher programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She has exhibited work in Illinois, Virginia, New York, and California.
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