Really good art comes from spending a really long time searching within yourself and coming up with your own individual voice.
Gabriella Boros (BFA ’83)
Gabriella Boros: An Artistic Voice
Gabriella Boros (BFA ‘83), a talented artist and visionary, has had a profound journey in the world of art. Over the years, her artistic exploration has led her through various mediums and styles, shaping her distinctive voice as an internationally-renowned artist. Boros reflects on the pivotal elements of her career.
The Early Years
Boros’ love for art ignited at a young age as a child growing up in Israel. She started making art as a form of communication – which evolved into her current career.
“I communicate ideas and concepts through my art to various audiences,” Boros said. “When I find something that is really interesting, I love to do a lot of research and then create a series.”
After immigrating to the United States and graduating from U‑M in 1983, Boros ventured into the realm of graphic design. She worked at CNA Insurance Company and, in 1989, established her own firm, Boros Design Studio. The pursuit of graphic design allowed her to explore the intersection of art and commercial applications, providing invaluable experience and insights.
During her years as a designer, Boros remained committed to her studio and continued painting. She regularly showed her art in exhibits while simultaneously running her own design firm.
Variety of Mediums
Boros exemplifies the boundless possibilities that lie within the world of art.
While her time at U‑M centered on painting and design, Boros now explores many ways of artistic expression. Although primarily a printmaker, Boros also does watercolors and microphotography of botanical subjects and makes hand-bound books of her prints. In the past, Boros has painted in oils, acrylic on paper and wood panels, and made found-art cheese boxes.
Boros graduated in 1983 and continued painting in oils, and then in 1997, painted with acrylics. She transitioned to woodblock prints in 2013 after a trip to Italy where she was inspired by an exhibit of woodblocks to stop painting. The intricate details and storytelling potential of woodblock prints captivated her, inspiring a series of works that resonate with a diverse range of audiences.
“After seeing a show of woodblock prints in Italy, I dropped my painting, and at the age of 50, jumped into the woodblock printmaking world,” Boros said.
Boros’ art is not only a form of self-expression, but also a means of faith-based communication with her viewers. Boros’ work, inspired by the Jewish faith, has prompted thought-provoking discussions around the world.
In 2016, Boros was chosen to participate in a year-long Midwest Jewish Artists Lab. The culminating 10 prints, based on the prophecies of Isaiah, were shown at the Spertus Museum.
Boros’s lasting connections to the Stamps School include all of her handmade books: Esh, Symbiosis, and 18 Stones, which are held in the University of Michigan Library Special Collections. Esh: Fire in Judaism, purchased by the University Libraries in 2016, is a feat in printmaking and theology, and explores the elements of fire in Judaism from cosmic, planetary references to intimate personal ceremonies.
By dedicating elements of her career to faith-based themes, Boros has gotten the chance to present to diverse audiences and spark discussions about spirituality – an especially rewarding experience.
“I really enjoy being able to communicate my ideas to people and having these shows where I can talk about my work, meet people, and see how my art lands,” Boros said. “Last year, I had the opportunity of presenting in two seminars and having a completely Christian crowd. One of the presentations I did was with a Muslim theologian and a Christian theologian. It was one of the most interesting discussions because I got to see the differences across faiths. It was really cool to have that kind of internationality and universality.”
In addition to faith-based work, much of Boros’ practice is dedicated to botanical and scientific topics. Recently, she has started to merge the two concepts in her art.
Experience at U‑M
Boros first arrived at U‑M looking for a versatile education with a variety of concentrations. She was able to take painting, illustration, and design classes which bolstered her skillset. Boros also became immersed in a semester abroad in London in her junior year, attending the Sir John Cass School of Art.
Being among abstract expressionist instructors at U‑M while pursuing her figural art direction was initially perplexing for Boros. Despite facing brutal critiques, Boros realized that art is a process requiring relentless dedication and continuous improvement. The experience instilled in her the value of perseverance as an artist.
“What was really hammered home at Stamps is that art is a process, and it’s a lot of work to get it where it needs to be,” Boros said. “You just keep putting in the work, and then your art changes and develops to become better. Taking part in critiques allowed me to realize that I had to plan my work on a professional level.”
Boros still finds a connection with her U‑M professors thirty years after graduation. She reconnected with her old professor, Takeshi Takahara, where they bonded over botanic-themed pieces and their contrasting styles.
“Takeshi was so abstract, and I was so figural, and we both ended up doing botanic work,” Boros said. “You develop with your art, and your art develops you, and suddenly, you end up in this beautiful place.”
Now, Boros is based in Skokie, Illinois, where she continues her artistic practice with an array of exhibitions and residencies.
This year, Boros was invited to show at Congregation Beth Shalom in Bloomington, Indiana, where she gave an artist talk. She was in a group show at the Moline International Airport Gallery and Never Forget: an art exhibition at Prairie State College in April.
Now 61, Boros is still making art. She is currently working on a large-scale 72-inch by 38-inch project entitled “Tap Root,” which has required weeks of intricate cutting.
Boros is looking forward to many upcoming events and opportunities in the years ahead. Next March, Boros will be in a group show titled “Jewish Sexuality” at the Berlin Jewish Museum, which will also travel to Amsterdam. She has been accepted to show two books at the Georgia Center For Book Arts show, titled Myth and Mystery. Her print was accepted to a Poet and Artist Dialogue at the University of Wisconsin Foster Gallery in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. In 2025, Boros will show her botanical prints at the Peggy Notabaert Nature Museum.
Boros has pursued an artistic journey that started when she was a young child, and evolved into an insightful and personal form of communication. Now, Boros suggests advice for artists whose journeys are just beginning.
“Doing art is hard work. It takes a lot of focus and looking into yourself,” Boros said. “Really good art comes from spending a really long time searching within yourself and coming up with your own individual voice.”