Through selected paintings, drawings, artists’ books, installation and media works, this exhibition curated by Jessica Cochran will consider and contextualize Deborah Boardman’s vibrant career as an artist primarily working in Chicago for over three decades.
As a painter, Boardman was deeply committed to the formal and expressive potential of color and gesture. Her subjects spanned from studio interiors, horses, sacred architecture, emblems and portraits of loved ones, to ethereal memories and dreamscapes. In later years, her paintings and works on paper in gouache evolved towards an increasingly gestural and color-driven approach to patterns, hand-lettered texts, and abstraction. Beyond the canvas, Boardman fostered human connections within her work through multi-dimensional, site-specific, and community projects. Employing extensive modes of research, and often with the assistance of spiritual dowsers, she explored topics of history, religion, spirituality, architecture, the environment, human frailty, and mortality.
Most recently, her installations, writing, recordings and paintings generously explored her psychic and physical vulnerabilities in the face of cancer. Shortly before her passing in 2015, art critic Lori Waxman wrote that her recent work grappled with the “unseen” and “ineffable,” articulating “what life looks like in that gracious limbo between life and death.”
The exhibition will be comprised of a selection of early works and documentation from the 1980s, as well as a selection of paintings, books, and videos from 1990 until 2015. Highlights will include works made during residencies in India, Arizona and at Ox-Bow; and works made for exhibitions at Indiana University-Kokomo, the Gahlberg Gallery at the College of DuPage, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Experimental Sound Studio.
Drawing on an extensive studio archive of hundreds of works, Painter, & will begin to scratch the surface of a prolific oeuvre. As such, it can be thought of as an impression–a curatorial perspective that charts Boardman’s evolution in an intimate, porous, and exploratory way. This approach reflects Boardman’s own “relational” strategies for showing works made along a continuum, in a manner that, as she wrote in 2002, reflects “upon and illuminates the particular spirit and architecture of the conditions of display.”
On the occasion of the exhibition, the Hyde Park Art Center is pleased to present a catalog featuring essays by Jessica Cochran, Kristin Korolowicz, and Tate Shaw. This was generously supported by a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.