The Act of Growing Up:
Emanations of a Soul Nerve Revival

September 22 - October 20, 2018

Visitor Welcome Center presents “The Act of Growing Up: Emanations of a Soul Nerve Revival,” an exhibition of new work by Laub. Using mouth blown glass sculptures, hand sewn quilted textiles, video, and song, Laub brings us a world that proposes possibilities of healing. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery.

Deeply inspired by Resmaa Menakem’s seminal book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, Laub looks to the vagus nerve, which Menakem calls the soul nerve, to reorient our habits of feeling. In an address to both the historically disenfranchised and their perpetrators—specifically, black, white, and blue (police)—Menakem centers the wisdom of his grandmother and writes from his expertise in somatic therapy to offer body centric approaches and exercises that guide readers toward individual and collective healing. The soul nerve is responsible for how we feel, as it is the largest organ in the human nervous system, reaching from the brainstem into the throat, lungs, heart, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and the large and small intestines. Menakem notes that because of inherited and lived traumas throughout life, humans often lose touch with how to feel, as intellect becomes the predominant driving force behind our actions. He suggests that by reviving the soul nerve, we can change the course of how we participate in the world.

Considering his life journey and complicities as a white trans person through the principles of Menakem, Laub materializes the transitional nature of emotions and makes visible the human necessity to process, undo, connect, and care for one another. Guided by Menakem’s suggestion to (re)connect with family, Laub’s handmade tapestries featuring his niece in addition to other members of his family recall the innocence of instant connection, yet are stitched with the difficulties of familial distance and misunderstanding. A series of Murrini mouth-blown glass boxing gloves evoke moments of self-love and self-discipline through the artist’s personal soul nerve exercise regimen. In the main space, water dispensers and glass vessels offer guests a rest area to wash one another’s feet, an intimate gesture to revive the soul nerve. Finally, an immersive environment with video and lullabies turns the back room into one in which visitors are encouraged to awaken their vagus nerves by singing, with the hopes to arrive at trust and renewal.

Laub’s work asks us to move beyond the limits of our vision in order to unearth the capacity for sensorial expression within our bodies. It is through basic connection that we build strong ties, learn from one another, share space, and celebrate differences. “The Act of Growing Up: Emanations of a Soul Nerve Revival” is a series of gestures that touches our souls, and invites guests both collectively and individually to actively heal and grow. This exhibition is a humble proposal to reorient our human approach toward an understanding of love and appreciation.

Laub (b. 1986, Waynesboro, VA) is an interdisciplinary artist who works across glass, ceramics, wood, textiles, sound, and drawing. His practice often considers his personal life, making objects, sensations, and worlds that speak to the difficulties and merits of human connection, self-care, and learning. By approaching tangible materials in creative ways, he materializes the fleeting and transitional nature of emotion and being, and makes visible the human necessity to process, connect, and care for one another. Laub's work has recently been exhibited at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Armory Center for the Arts, and Commonwealth and Council, and has been featured in Artforum, Los Angeles Times, and Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. He holds an MFA in Glass from Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA in Craft Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University.