Lauren Hall

Toronto

Lauren Hall: Clouds Edged with Intolerable Radiancy (2011): Coloured sand, polycarbonate, aluminum. Images courtesy the artist.Lauren Hall: Clouds Edged with Intolerable Radiancy (2011): Coloured sand, polycarbonate, aluminum. Images courtesy the artist.

By Trish Boon

Lauren Hall
YYZ Artist Outlet
To July 23, 2011 

In the exhibition Sail Fast Cloud – Shadows and Sunbeams, Lauren Hall re-imagines epic, archetypal visions of natural beauty. The sun is a shimmering golden circle that fills an entire gallery wall. On another wall, snow-peaked mountains reflect the pink, blue and violet tones of an early-morning sunrise, while opposite them the warmer, deeper hues of a sunset are pictured through the porthole windows of an airplane. Finally, in a corner of the gallery, we see the glacial blues of an ice floe, while the nostalgic aroma of past vacations fills the air.

Mirage Bay (Pina Colada), 2011: Glycerin, pineapple and coconut fragrance oil, dye, insulation foam, lighting panel.Mirage Bay (Pina Colada), 2011: Glycerin, pineapple and coconut fragrance oil, dye, insulation foam, lighting panel.Traditional representations of the natural world might seem risky for a young artist; however, in her use of materials, Hall is anything but conventional. Nearly all of her work is created using building materials from Home Depot. The golden sun is made from gold-coloured fluorescent lighting grids that Hall imagines gracing the meeting rooms at the Trump Tower. The colours of the sunsets and sunrises are created through meticulous pouring of sand into translucent tunnels of clear corrugated plastic, which seems suitable for a home greenhouse project. With the things dream homes are made of, Hall turns glorious outdoor panoramas into glitzy indoor décor.

Through her use of average materials, Hall opens a dialogue on a certain understanding of beauty. Specifically, she is commenting on those “universally” agreed-upon moments guaranteed in most typical vacation packages. By creating a completely contrived sense of wonder within the gallery setting, Hall seems to be asking us if we agree on the collective decisions made for us about universal beauty.

Or possibly, she is simply wondering why we spend so much time indoors. During an interview with the artist, she spoke of visits to her grandparents in Florida as a child, remembering the uniform décor of the air-conditioned retirement condos, replete with indoor palm trees, and an overwhelming lack of interest in the outdoors from her grandparents and their friends. Standing by her miniature floating glaciers, Hall pointed to the various components of the work: insulating styrofoam, a “cracked-ice” lighting panel, and an impressive array of hand-made soaps in various tones of light blue and glittering sea-foam. The soaps are made to look like the decorative kind, not the types to be used, and were created using 12 times the recommended amount of Pina Colada scented oils. Originally thinking about the concept of mirages, Hall’s research led her to Las Vegas’ Mirage Hotel; its erupting volcano is scented with that drink flavour. Hall’s exquisite painterly sand works are also derived from extensive visual research in the form of photographs taken by the artist or passed on to her from friends who are aware of her preoccupation. While there is definite humour in her conceptual irony, Hall’s production is nowhere near laughable.

Trish BoonTrish Boon is an artist, writer and arts educator based in Toronto. She has previously written for Canadian Art magazine and writes her own blog, which features articles based on conversations with Canadian contemporary artists. Boon also designs jewellery and printed fabrics, which can be seen here.