Laura Foster’s Domestic Tangle

Laura Foster’s “strawcloud/parlour” deconstructs the past.

“I am interested in the murky areas of domesticity, [where] the dust forever creeps in under the front door, and the moss grows, insistent and patient, up the sides of the house,” says Portland-based artist, Laura Foster. Her installation at the Woolworth Building, strawcloud/parlour, explores the threshold between interior and exterior, “the feral and the domestic,” a place where the “experience of the body [is] colored by tactile memory and longing.”

In Foster’s 2010 work, “colic/site 2,” a prim fabric stuffed with hay coils like a constrictor. Photo courtesy of the artist

Foster’s new installation invites the viewer into a pleasantly twisted, faintly bizarre parlour scene that is at once banal and disturbing. The room is set with nostalgic items such as a bale of hay – but a bale completely unbound, its straws painstakingly thread-wrapped, yard after yard, into a kind of itchy-looking intestine hanging from the ceiling – fusty scenic wallpaper, and a rough-hewn model of snow-capped mountains (also made of hay) set on a woolen blanket and draped with a wide blue satin bow. An energetic abstract painting (by Foster?) hovers over the scene.

If these innocuous walls could speak, what conversations would they reveal – maybe mild chatter about that gruesome accident with the thresher out back – Now pass the chamomile tea and biscuits, please?

Say hay – “bedstraw,” a 2007 installation by Laura Foster. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“My work explores the ways in which we attempt to contain the wild effluvia of the landscape, its roil and bracken, its tendrils and vastness, even as it engulfs us in its very reach and sprawl,” says Foster. She captures the breadth of a field in the form of a hay bale, employing domestic processes (and cloying wallpaper) to create a container for a deceptively simple version of life. The intestinal straw rope is, after all, “engulfing.” Also, manmade. The intent of strawcloud/parlour is to bring “the vastness of a distant field into the calm, composed space of the parlour” – a place it must violently, by nature, break out of. strawcloud/parlour, the Woolworth Building, 11th & Commerce, through Dec. 15, 2012


Leave a Reply