Boas' Interpretation of the World

“Some say art is an imitation of life. Others say it is a product of the imagination. For Portland artist Pat Boas, it seems to be a combination of the two, a selected sampling of life filtered through the artists’ imagination to produce a unique vision or new perspective.”

Some say art is an imitation of life. Others say it is a product of the imagination.

For Portland artist Pat Boas, it seems to be a combination of the two, a selected sampling of life filtered through the artists’ imagination to produce a unique vision or new perspective.

In Idiomsyncretic, an exhibition of drawings at the Emily Davis Gallery in The University of Akron’s Myers School of Art, Boas displays her interest in imagery from everyday sources such as newspapers and illustrations. Her work often deals with the meaning and interpretation of an image, word or letter.

Currently, the artist is working on a series entitled NYT A3 (2008), a collection of digital pigment prints which juxtapose documentary style photos of poverty and political strife with the glamorous ads of Tiffany Jewelers commonly found at the top of the A3 section of The New York Times.

Such interplay of imagery inspires notions of the differences between first and third-world countries, have and have-nots, stability and disaster. The images also highlight the nuances of communication through newspaper illustrations and advertisements.

Other works in the show such as All of the Heads on the Front Pages of the NY Times, 2001 (2001-02) also examine the nature of newspaper imagery. These seemingly simple works, created by tracing onto tissue paper the heads from photos on the front page of The New York Times, present an arrangement of overlapping silhouettes in a sea of anonymous profiles.

Each silhouette signals the existence of a human life and story, intermingling with the lives of others. Through these works, one can’t help but realize both the oneness and anonymity of humanity.

Other pieces in the show feature a more obvious display of Boas’ imagination. In her Against Nature series from 2004 and Mutatis Mutandis series from 2005-06, Boas again draws from a common source-natural history illustration-but distorts it to form an otherworldly image.

In these works, Boas splices together fragments of nature drawings to create an eerie animal hybrid. Within the twisting cylindrical forms of the creature can be seen traces of fur, scales, fins, flesh, muscle and veins, at once seamlessly flowing into one another while at the same time appearing to have no right place in the natural world.

To some viewers, these works might seem more at home in a science fiction thriller, but the elegant execution of the drawings, intricate detail and exquisite color rightly place them in a gallery or museum.

Boas, a former UA Myers student, received her BFA in printmaking from Pacific Northwest College of Art and her MFA in painting from Portland State University. She currently shows her work at a number of museums primarily in the Western and Northwestern U.S. and has contributed to publications such as Artweek, Art Papers, and artUS.

Idiomsyncretic will remain on view at the Emily Davis Gallery until Oct. 4, 2008. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition, Boas is scheduled to present a lecture at the Myers School of Art on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 6:00 p.m.