Critics’ Picks

View of “The Act of Growing Up: Emanations of a Soul Nerve Revival,” 2018.

Los Angeles


Visitor Welcome Center
3006 W 7th Street Suite 200A
September 22–October 20, 2018

Queer people are used to differentiating between two kinds of family—the chosen and the not chosen. The impetus to find supportive, caring, but still challenging communities often emerges from unpleasant or traumatizing experiences with relatives. In Laub’s show with the ecstatic title “The Act of Growing Up: Emanations of a Soul Nerve Revival,” these two kinds of family collapse into one; the artist ruminates on how a frayed quilt of familial relations might be mended.

Tapestries (embroidered and appliquéd) such as Ice Cream for Breakfast and Marilyn Takes Her Grandparents on a Walk (all works 2018) depict Laub’s niece, often with other relatives. These works reflect on the tenderness with which the littlest among us are sometimes treated. (However, one cannot forget that many children in this country and elsewhere remain in detention, without love’s nourishment. The titular phrase “soul nerve” is a reference to therapist Resmaa Menakem’s recent book on the effects of white supremacy on the body, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies.)

In Grandpa Bob and Marilyn Take Flight, which takes the form of a kite with a rainbow tail, Laub’s niece reaches up to the heavens; her elder responds by opening his mouth in wonderment. This intergenerational pair is surrounded by rainbow threads that converge at the bottom of the kite as a woven friendship bracelet. The remaining works in the show, including sculpture and video, position other activities—boxing, feet washing, and singing—as further conduits for healing and deepening relational bonds.