Lee Boroson: Plastic Fantastic  

Lee Boroson’s work presents a nuanced take on the idea of nature. For the artist, “landscape” is positioned between man-made cultural constructs and wilderness. To achieve this, Boroson creates large-scale immersive installations, which emulate “natural” experiences for his viewers, based on the most ineffable elemental forces in nature — from air, fog, and smoke, to fire and the cosmos. Boroson’s installations are both embodied and ephemeral; they transform material and experience, all within the space of the gallery, calling for viewers to contemplate the very nature of nature.

For Plastic Fantastic, Boroson recalls the 1960s utopianism around plastic as a symbol of the shiny and new. In the 21st century, however — with the rise of environmentalism, the overflow of plastic in landfills, and a whole island made of the material floating in the Pacific Ocean — this utopian thinking is far more complicated. By diverting manufactured plastics from consumer use into the realm of art, Lee Boroson’s Plastic Fantastic is a sly nod to both the substance’s seductivity and its lasting effect on the world around us.

The exhibition contains four related and sequential components: Moisture Content, Deep Current, Uplift, and Subterranean Set.

Moisture Content

Date: 2014
Dimensions/Duration: dimensions variable
Media: polyester and nylon fabric, mylar, acrylic, polypr

Viewers enter Moisture Content through a gridded field of floating Lexan spheres that hang in the air like molecules. The central area, 4 concerntric draped areas, consists of sheer fabrics, manipulated to create a foglike atmosphere, blurring ones

connection to the surrounding architecture. In the very center hangs a cluster of origami-like folded mylar sheets suspended around acrylic orbs.

Deep Current

Date: 2014

Dimensions/Duration: plastic balls, blower, wood, PVC pipe, fence, hardware, fabric; approximately 34 feet x 32 feet x 41 feet

This work is an ode to Niagara Falls, a site considered a sublime example of nature’s grandeur despite it being a highly engineered and carefully controlled version of nature. This floor-to-ceiling sculpture contains a spouting stream of translucent spheres, coming from a Rube Goldberg-esque device creating an interpretation of the most unnatural of all waterfalls, complete with theatrical National Park-style railings and decking, so visitors can get up close to the view.


Date: 2011-2014 Dimensions/Duration: 12x50x55 feet Media: Nylon, blowers, wood, hardware

Referencing images of smoke pouring out of burning oil wells and volcanic eruptions, Uplift creates a Gothic interior setting that is simultaneously crypt-like and refers to underworld cave spaces.

Subterranean Set

Date: 2012-14

Dimensions/Duration: 44 inches x26 feet x26 feet

Media: Glass, water, wax (goo), heaters, wood, paint, carpet, ceramic insulators.

These handblown vessels are filled with a wax material and water with surfactant and create blobs inside similar to a Lava Lamp. The interlocking bases are a type of mathematical puzzle, which a faux painted with a wood grain pattern.