Open Today 10 AM – 9 PM
Admission is free from 5 to 9 PM on ICA Free Thursdays.

Get tickets

Advance tickets are recommended and are available for visits through October. Book now

Please Note

Select galleries are currently closed for the installation of Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s—Today, opening Oct 5.

Paintings, drawings, and installations will span nearly 20 years of the artist’s practice and expand upon recent installations

(Boston, MA—Sept. 15, 2023) In April 2024, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) presents Firelei Báez, the first museum survey dedicated to the richly layered work of Firelei Báez (b. 1981, Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic). The exhibition will feature approximately 40 works—paintings, installations, and works on paper spanning nearly two decades of the artist’s practice—and showcase Báez’s profoundly moving body of work, which explores the complicated and often incomplete historical narratives that surround the Atlantic basin. The artist will premiere new works in the exhibition, which is slated to tour throughout North America to the Vancouver Art Gallery (Fall 2024) and Des Moines Art Center (Spring 2025). The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue co-published by the ICA and DelMonico Books. On view from April 4 to Sept. 2, 2024, Firelei Báez is organized by Eva Respini, Deputy Director and Director of Curatorial Programs, Vancouver Art Gallery (former Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the ICA), with Tessa Bachi Haas, ICA Curatorial Assistant. 

“Firelei Báez is part of a vital movement in contemporary art that embraces the role of art in understanding gaps in the historical record,” said Jill Medvedow, ICA Ellen Matilda Poss Director. “She delves into the historical narratives and fluid identities of the Atlantic basin in a way that invites audiences to reimagine and reassess. Firelei’s stunning, immersive installation at the ICA Watershed in 2021 left an indelible impression on all who saw it. This comprehensive survey will examine two decades of the artist’s practice, offering audiences a deeper and richer encounter with the work of this important artist.”   

“This survey highlights Báez’s investment in the medium of painting and its capacity for storytelling and mythmaking, featuring complex and layered uses of pattern, decoration, and saturated color, often overlaid on maps made during colonial rule in the Americas,” said Respini. “Her work is about looking at history through multiple lenses – she shifts perspectives and creates layers of complexity where history has only provided a single perspective.” 

Drawing on disciplines of anthropology, geography, folklore, fantasy, science fiction, and social history, Báez presents works that engage with Caribbean, African, and Latin American diasporas and histories. Her large-scale map paintings, featuring colonial maps, charts, and architectural plans immerse audiences in sweeping narratives that bring together myth and history. In Man Without a Country (aka anthropophagist wading in the Artibonite River) (2014-2015), Báez uses 225 pages sourced from late nineteenth-century texts on the history of Hispaniola—the Caribbean island that is divided between the Dominican Republic and Haiti—as supports for her drawings depicting chimeric organisms, femme figurations, and decorative embellishments. The markings intervene across the text, fusing folkloric motifs with academic writing to offer new ways of reading history and culture. Báez installs each page individually to form this wall-size installation, suggestive of island geographies and bodies of water, which viewers navigate according to their own trajectories, resisting singular narratives in favor of multiple readings. 

Báez employs a similar reframing of recorded histories in her drawings. In Can I Pass? Introducing the Paper Bag to the Fan Test for the Month of July (2011), she creates a series of 31 self-portraits displayed like a calendar for the month of July. The self-portraits detail only the artist’s eyes and silhouette as she poses with different hair styles for each day of the calendar month. All of the portraits are made to match the artist’s shifting skin tone as it darkens and lightens with changing seasons. This exercise is reminiscent of the social practice of using the Brown Paper Bag Test to admit or deny entry to social functions based on one’s skin color in the 20th century United States.

Bringing the powerful quality of her paintings into three dimensions with her sculptural installations, Báez creates generative spaces with painted architectural forms that invite new possibilities and ideas to be explored. A Drexcyen Chronocommons (To win the war you fought it sideways) (2019) is an immersive installation that invites audiences to reexamine historical narratives, echoing some of the same characteristics of her 2021 commission for the ICA Watershed. Báez envelops the space in a hand-perforated blue tarp, casting spots of light onto surfaces painted with symbols reflective of the Black diaspora, constructing a place where the past, present, and future intertwine. 

Publication 
The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue featuring works in the exhibition, works from throughout Báez’s career, and essays from Leticia Alvarado, Katherine Brinson, Jessica Bell Brown, Julie Crooks, Daniella Rose King, Eva Respini, Hallie Ringle, and Katy Siegel. 

About the ICA 
Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. 

Media Contact 
Theresa Romualdez, press@icaboston.org

Credits
This exhibition is organized by Eva Respini, Deputy Director and Director of Curatorial Programs, Vancouver Art Gallery (former Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston), with Tessa Bachi Haas, Curatorial Assistant, ICA/Boston

Major support for Firelei Báez is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, David and Jocelyne DeNunzio, Mathieu O. Gaulin, Lise and Jeffrey Wilks, and the ICA’s Avant Guardian Society.

First major group exhibition in the U.S. to envision a new approach to contemporary art in the Caribbean diaspora.

(Boston, MA—Sept. 12, 2023) This October, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) opens Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today. This major group exhibition is an innovative rethinking of “Caribbean art,” focusing on art of the Caribbean diaspora and featuring an intergenerational group of 28 artists who live and work across the globe. Challenging conventional ideas about the region, Forecast Form reveals the Caribbean as a place defined not by geography, language, or ethnicity, but by constant exchange, displacement, and movement. The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The ICA’s presentation of Forecast Form is coordinated by Jeffrey De Blois, Associate Curator and Publications Manager, and will be on view from October 5, 2023, through February 25, 2024. 

Forecast Form is a far-reaching, stimulating exhibition of art from the Caribbean and its diaspora. With works by 28 artists from around the world, it is full of new ideas: formal, conceptual and experiential. We’re very excited to share this with audiences from, connected to or new to Caribbean contemporary art,” said Jill Medvedow, the ICA’s Ellen Matilda Poss Director. 

“The concept of diaspora—the movement or displacement of people through migration from one location to another—provides a powerful framework for understanding “Caribbean art” in the context of Forecast Form and beyond,” said De Blois. “This concept allows for the artworks in the exhibition to be framed through ideas of movement and transformation,  exceeding the limitations of geographic boundaries.”  

Forecast Form takes the 1990s, when debates around identity and difference featured front and center, as a cultural backdrop. This decade—a period of profound social, political, and economic transformation globally—also had a major effect on art from the Caribbean, and in the cultural sector gave rise to a Pan-Caribbean art exhibition model that attempted to represent the region’s complex colonial histories through art. In contrast, Forecast Form focuses on the affinities shared between works made by artists who have ties to the region yet hold diverse personal identities, geographies, and histories. Using the weather’s constant movement as a metaphor for analyzing artistic practices, this expansive exhibition reveals new modes of thinking about identity and place. Through a deeply innovative exploration of form, Forecast Form positions the region as a place where the past, the present, and the future meet. 

The ICA’s presentation of Forecast Form debuts a new work by Teresita Fernández, Manigua(Mirror) (2023). The word manigua is often used to describe a dense forest or swamp; a chaotic entanglement or an impenetrable place. Inspired by this definition and Wilfredo Lam’s painting, The Jungle (1943), Fernández’s manigua is a space of refuge. Through evocative materials such as charcoal and black sand, and wielding the symbolic power of the palm tree, Manigua(Mirror) conjures an image of a Caribbean landscape as a site of resistance.  

Other works in the exhibition include: 

  • The Fir-Palm (1991/2019) by Boston-born artist Lorraine O’Grady. In this photograph, a slanting tree emerges from the base of a Black woman’s back. This tree is a composite of two types: a New England fir and a Caribbean palm. While each of these trees is strongly associated with different geographic regions, their merger alludes to O’Grady’s experience as the Boston-born child of immigrants from Jamaica.  
  • Sugar/Bittersweet (2010) by Cuban-born artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons, who studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The work consists of an installation of Yoruba spears that sit atop traditional African and Chinese stools. At the base of each spear, stacked panelas (or discs of sugar) appear in various states of production, from dark molasses to brown sugar to refined white, doubling as metaphors for imposed racial categories. The sculptures, which together resemble a field of sugarcane stalks, steer away from the bucolic landscape to focus on the violence of the sugar trade against enslaved Black people, and later, Chinese laborers who were brought by the colonial government to work on the plantations in Cuba. 
  • the fecund, the lush and the salted land waits for a harvest . . . her people . . . ripe with promise, wait until the next blowing season (2022) by Saint Martin and New Jersey-based artist Deborah Jack. In this lyrical and immersive installation, shots of lush orange pomegranates mix with the ocean, sky, and shoreline. Filmed by the artist around her mother’s home on Saint Martin, these images appear alongside footage of salt mining from a 1948 Dutch documentary about the island. Pomegranates and salt, both emblems of death and rebirth, share a common legacy as commodities of the colonial economy in the region.  
  • An Ocean Cradle (2022) by Los Angeles-based artist Suchitra Mattai. An oceanic landscape woven together from vintage, handmade saris, An Ocean Cradle alludes to movement in many ways. Collected from family and friends living throughout the South Asian diaspora, the saris not only represent travel and migration, but also gesture toward movement across lineage. Customarily passed down from generation to generation, saris carry the memories and scents from those who wore them before. From the 1830s to the early 1900s, waves of Indian migrants—Mattai’s family included— migrated across the ocean from India to British Guiana (now Guyana) to work as indentured servants on sugarcane plantations. 

This comprehensive group exhibition features 28 artists from across the diaspora: Candida Alvarez, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker, Christopher Cozier, Julien Creuzet, Maksaens Denis, Peter Doig, Jeannette Ehlers, Alia Farid, Teresita Fernández, Rafael Ferrer, Denzil Forrester, Joscelyn Gardner, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Deborah Jack, Engel Leonardo, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Suchitra Mattai, Ana Mendieta, Lorraine O’Grady, Ebony G. Patterson, Keith Piper, Freddy Rodríguez, Zilia Sánchez, Adán Vallecillo, Cosmo Whyte, and Didier William.  

The exhibition is accompanied by a substantial 288-page catalogue featuring groundbreaking scholarship as well as extensive plate sections reproducing exhibition artworks.

About the ICA 
Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. 

Media Contact 
Theresa Romualdez, press@icaboston.org

Credits 
Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today was organized by Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 

Major support for Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today was provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. 

The exhibition is curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator, with Iris Colburn, Curatorial Assistant, Isabel Casso, former Susman Curatorial Fellow, and Nolan Jimbo, Susman Curatorial Fellow. 

The ICA/Boston presentation is coordinated by Jeffrey De Blois, Associate Curator and Publications Manager.

With warmest thanks, we gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the ICA’s Avant Guardian Society in making this exhibition possible.

(Boston, MA—AUGUST 22, 2023)—The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) announces the appointment of Erika Umali as the museum’s first Curator of Collections. In this newly created role, supported by the Leadership in Arts Museums initiative, Umali will lead strategy, acquisitions and exhibitions for the ICA’s collection, as well as expanding access and visibility for the collection through public exhibitions and programming, publishing initiatives, and digital platforms. The ICA’s collection, begun in 2006, has strong representation of women artists and artists of color, and reflects the exhibition program at the museum.

“We are thrilled to welcome Erika to our curatorial team, to learn from her, and to work together to make the collection an integral, driving programmatic force at the ICA,” said Ruth Erickson, Barbara Lee Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs. “The role of Curator of Collections will expand our capacity and support our commitment to reflect strong, diverse voices and perspectives in our collection and in all aspects of our work.” 

“I am elated to join the ICA’s curatorial team at such a transformational moment in the development of the collection,” added Umali. “I look forward to collaborating with the brilliant team here to support their ambitious and thought-provoking programming, and to contribute towards building a leading collection of contemporary art that fully reflects the diverse narratives and histories of the world around us.” 

Since the ICA began a permanent collection in 2006, the museum has built a forward-thinking, 20th and 21st-century collection, distinguished by its representation of women artists and commitment to diversity. The collection has greatly expanded in recent years, with the addition of major acquisitions by Yayoi Kusama, John Akomfrah, Firelei Báez, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Barbara Kruger, among many others. The full collection is available here

Umali comes to the ICA from the Brooklyn Museum, where she served as the inaugural Assistant Curator of the Collection and oversaw thousands of acquisitions. Alongside this, she also organized several exhibitions including Jeffrey Gibson: When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks, Brooklyn Abstraction: Four Artists, Four Walls, featuring installations by Maya Hayuk, José Parlá, Kennedy Yanko, and the late Leon Polk Smith, and Art Breaks, a collaboration between MTV and the Brooklyn Museum. Prior to her role as Assistant Curator of the Collection, Umali served as the Brooklyn Museum’s Mellon Curatorial Fellow. 

About the ICA/Boston

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. For more information, call 617-478-3100. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.   

Credits

The Curator of Collections position is supported by Leadership in Arts Museums, an initiative to create more racial equity in arts museum leadership led by the Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Pilot House Philanthropy and Alice L. Walton Foundation. 

About Leadership in Arts Museums

Leadership in Arts Museums is a $11+ million initiative over the next five years to invest in a variety of efforts to create more racial equity in art museum leadership. A partnership between the Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Pilot House Philanthropy and Alice L. Walton Foundation, the initiative provides funding to museums to increase leadership roles such as curators, conservators, collections managers, community engagement staff, and educators in a manner designed to advance the goal of racial equity.

(Boston, MAJULY 18, 2023) – The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) announces the promotion of Anni A. Pullagura to Assistant Curator. In her new position, Pullagura will have an expanded role in the ICA’s curatorial and exhibition program, deepen her involvement with the ICA’s educational initiatives, and oversee curatorial internships. Among her significant projects at the museum, Pullagura assisted in the organization of Simone Leigh: Sovereignty, the ICA’s commission for the 59th Venice Biennale as well as the nationally touring survey exhibition Simone Leigh and its accompanying publication. Pullagura has also organized the forthcoming 2023 James and Audrey Foster Prize exhibition opening Aug. 24, 2023, and is contributing towards the first U.S. museum survey of Charles Atlas, opening in 2024. 

“Since first joining as a curatorial fellow, Anni has been an indispensable part of the ICA’s curatorial department distinguishing herself with deep intelligence and equanimity,” said Ruth Erickson, recently appointed Barbara Lee Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs. “In her time at the ICA, Pullagura has made many important contributions to the museum’s curatorial program and permanent collection, while developing a thoughtful body of scholarship on American art, empathy, and museums.”  

Pullagura became Curatorial Assistant in 2020, after joining the ICA as a Curatorial Fellow in 2018. At the ICA, she has organized Jordan Nassar; Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca: Swinguerra; The Worlds We Make; and i’m yours: Encounters with Art in Our Time. She has also supported the management of the permanent collection and assisted in the organization of Deana Lawson; A Place for Me: Figurative Painting Now; Revival: Materials and Monumental Forms; William Forsythe: Choreographic Objects; and When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art.  

In 2022, Pullagura received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Brown University, and is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including the Center for Curatorial Leadership/Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice Fellowship and the Professional Alliance for Curators of Color Fellowship from the Association of Art Museum Curators. She currently serves on the Art of the Americas Advisory Think Tank at Harvard Art Museums. In addition to presenting regularly at the American Studies Association, Black Portraiture[s], and the College Art Association, among others, her writing has appeared in Art Journal; The Journal of American History; and Journal of Visual Culture, as well as in numerous exhibition catalogues. Prior to the ICA, Pullagura held positions at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University, Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, High Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

About the ICA 

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. For more information, call 617-478-3100. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok

Opening Aug. 24, the exhibition features a new body of paintings, works on paper, and artist books

(Boston, MA—JUNE 27, 2023) On August 24, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) opens Tammy Nguyen, the artist’s first solo museum presentation in the United States. Tammy Nguyen’s (b. 1984, San Francisco) gilded paintings are composite images that reconsider lesser-known histories against the backdrop of lush landscapes and varied symbols of violent conquest or soft power. For the ICA, the artist has created an interconnected body of 14 paintings, works on paper, and artist books. Inspired by East Asian landscape painting, these works are all related to the relationship between people and nature, landscape and wilderness, as articulated in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s influential 1836 essay Nature, written in Concord, Massachusetts. Nguyen maps how ideas Emerson penned nearly 200 years ago have echoed across time and space to influence U.S. policies abroad, with a focus on Vietnam. Organized by Jeffrey De Blois, ICA Associate Curator and Publications Manager, the exhibition is on view through January 28, 2024. 

“Nguyen’s unique paintings are both portraits and landscapes, in which figure and ground are collapsed together, equating humans to nature as in Emerson’s essay. Her new body of work explores the lasting influence of Emerson, a figure associated closely with Massachusetts, on ideas about nature that are still prevalent today,” said De Blois. 

Nguyen’s new works are tied together by the line “what is a farm but a mute gospel?” from Nature, which intimates Emerson’s idea that God is reflected everywhere in nature. Dense layers of foliage combine plants and trees of the U.S. Northeast with the flora and fauna of tropical environments to create jungle-like landscapes where everything is interwoven. Emerson is one of the figures who recurs throughout the new works, along with Jesus, Demeter, and Ngô Đình Diệm.  

Nguyen presents these seemingly disparate figures in parallel, connecting them using different seasons as experienced in the Northeast to create a new narrative around these known symbols. Jesus appears in the figure of the Christ of Vũng Tàu, a 105-foot statue in Vietnam on the top of Mount Nhỏ—both a legacy of colonialism and a path to salvation. Here, the Christ of Vũng Tàu suggests literally the Emersonian connection between God and landscape. Demeter features as the Ancient Greek goddess of harvest and agriculture, and, later, the patron saint of agriculture. Even after paganism was banned throughout the Roman Empire, farmers continued to pray to her as “Saint Demetra.” Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam from 1955 until he was captured and assassinated during the 1963 South Vietnamese coup. Diệm opened the door to U.S. involvement in Vietnam as part of his nation-building projects, including land reform, a topic that Nguyen explores across her new body of work.  

Nguyen’s vibrant paintings—whose symphonic space is made through overlaying painting, printing, drawing, metal leafing, and rubber stamping with custom-made tools—combine pictorial strategies of reflection and mirroring, drawn from Emerson’s philosophy of nature. In one large-scale painting, Nguyen mythologizes three figures involved in Vietnamese land reform programs whose passport photos she found in the National Archives of the United States. Their countenances are halved across the panels, portrayed against a panoramic landscape of mountains and overlaid with text drawn from documents found in archives. In another, a disc plow and illustrations of Vietnamese farmers found in the archives are juxtaposed with a depiction of the Battle of Lexington and Daniel Chester French’s The Minute Man (1874), a statue in Concord that depicts the revolutionary solider stepping away from his plow.  

Emerson, Jesus, Demeter, and Diệm appear again in the artist’s four collage-based works on paper. The texture and specificity of these works are taken from documents, including propaganda, found in the National Archives related to land reform programs in Vietnam. Across these works, she also includes the words from Ca Dao, propagandistic folk songs promoting land reform that circulated the countryside. 

Finally, four unique artist books—discrete objects unto themselves and the heart of Nguyen’s practice—are also tied to the four seasons and the recurring figures central to this body of work. The artist books are constructed to resemble the mountainous landscapes pictured throughout, tying together Emerson’s conception of landscape and how the Vietnamese landscape was conceived as part of land reform, especially through the lens of the U.S. involvement.  

Artist Biography 
Tammy Nguyen lives and works in Easton, Connecticut. Nguyen has a M.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University, and a B.F.A. from Cooper Union. After finishing at Cooper Union, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to study lacquer painting in Vietnam, where she remained for three years. She is Assistant Professor of Art at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She is the founder of independent publishing imprint Passenger Pigeon Press. Nguyen’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including Still Present!, 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Germany, and Greater New York 2021, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York. Nguyen’s artist books are in many notable collections, including Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Clark Art Institute Library, Williamstown, MA; Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York; New York Public Library; Philadelphia Museum of Art Library, Philadelphia; and the Whitney Museum of American Art Library, New York. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts. Nguyen’s first novel, O, was published in 2022 with Ugly Duckling Presse. 

About the ICA 
Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. 

Media Contact 
Theresa Romualdez, press@icaboston.org  

Credits 
Organized by Jeffrey De Blois, Associate Curator and Publications Manager. 

This summer, Maravilla and sound healers will activate his sculptures in public sound baths, and the ICA will offer free workshops with community partners and organizations in East Boston.

(Boston, MA—May 4, 2023) The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) will open the next season of the Watershed with a monumental installation by Guadalupe Maravilla (b. 1976, El Salvador). In Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago, Maravilla expands on the Disease Thrower series with a newly commissioned sculpture: Mariposa Relámpago (Lightning Butterfly), the artist’s largest artwork to date. Once a school bus in the United States, Mariposa Relámpago had a second life as a transportation bus in El Salvador, and has now been transformed into a vibrational healing instrument by the artist. Drawing on his personal story of migration, illness, and recovery, Maravilla combines sculpture, painting, performative acts, and installation to create works grounded in activism and healing. The exhibition will also feature several additional artworks including: 8 new retablo paintings, Migratory Birds Riding the Celestial Serpent, 2021; Disease Thrower #0, #00, and #14, and a site-specific Tripa Chuca wall drawing, made in collaboration with an East Boston-based resident. On view May 25—September 4, 2023, Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago is organized by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Senior Curator, with Yutong Shi, Curatorial Assistant. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, the artist will lead free Sound Baths on June 10 and August 13. The ICA is also working closely with long-time community partner East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) and members of the East Boston Community Healing Center Project on several public programs during the exhibition’s run (full schedule and details below). 

“Over the past five years, the Watershed has provided unprecedented opportunities for artists to engage with issues of community concern through immersive works of art. With its focus on healing and migration, Guadalupe Maravilla’s ambitious, large-scale installation, including a transformed school bus, is uniquely suited for the Watershed,” said Jill Medvedow, the ICA’s Ellen Matilda Poss Director. “We look forward to welcoming audiences to experience the artist’s unique vision and ideas around community-based care and regeneration.” 

“Maravilla’s installations are amalgamations of animals, spirits, plants, and gongs that create multi-sensory experiences and nurture collective narratives of perseverance and humanity. His work is informed by his own experience recovering from cancer as an adult—an illness he links to the trauma he experienced as an unaccompanied minor migrating from El Salvador and the stresses of being undocumented,” said Erickson. 

Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago draws on Maravilla’s own migration experiences. His sculptures incorporate natural materials, handmade objects, and items collected by the artist while retracing the 3,000-mile migration route that he took as a child fleeing from El Salvador’s civil war to reunite with his parents at the age of eight. The artist explains that he began these trips “to confront trauma in order to heal it” and realized the objects he collected while traveling “were really charged and really powerful from those lands.” His finished artworks contain a cosmology of potent symbols and objects that connect the artist’s personal journey with ancient practices of the indigenous Mayan peoples; diverse spiritual and folk beliefs; and contemporary crises of disease, ecology, and war. The site-specific Tripa Chuca wall drawing is made by the artist and a local resident who shares a similar migration experience of displacement to form an index of cultural exchange. Tripa Chuca is a Salvadoran children’s drawing game in which participants draw lines that never intersect, connecting pairs of numbers to form an abstract pattern.  

Public Programs 
Sound Baths | June 10, August 13 at 12:15 PM and 3:30 PM
Maravilla incorporates sound baths into his practice, harnessing the sonic vibrations of healing instruments to create a space for meditation and restoration. Join the artist and other sound healers for an hour-long sound bath at the ICA Watershed. In this immersive, full-body experience, Maravilla will activate the congregation of sculptures including Mariposa Relámpago, which was once a school bus in the United States and had a second life as a transportation bus in El Salvador, and is now a vibrational healing instrument. 

Watershed Block Parties | June 17, August 13 from 11 AM to 3 PM 
The ICA Watershed’s Block Parties welcome over 900 people from the East Boston neighborhood and surrounding areas to experience art, music, food, and activities at the Watershed. This summer, the ICA is working with EBNHC and the Community Healing Project to lead drumming circles, reiki, yoga, and sound and healing activities at each block party. 

Community Workshops | July 16, August 6 at 2 PM 
The ICA will be holding two intimate and hands-on workshops with members of the East Boston Community Healing Center Project. In these workshops, healing practitioners will delve into their work through presentations and activities for attendees. The first workshop will be led by Arteterapia, and will focus on the health benefits of Latin American Dance; the second will be led by Nancy Slamet, from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and the EASTIE Coalition, alongside other local Qigong instructors, and will highlight the health benefits of Qigong.   

Additional Resources 
Accompanying Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago will be a behind-the-scenes video with the artist discussing his process and personal history. The video is produced by Doza Visuals in conjunction with the ICA. The ICA Mobile Guide on the Bloomberg Connects app will feature the artist discussing his practice, symbolism, and personal experience in a series of audio tracks recorded in both English and Spanish. 

East Boston Care Collectives 
The Watershed’s Harbor Room will feature a presentation on healing practices in East Boston, titled East Boston Care Collectives, including three videos created with East Boston–based community organizations—Eastie Farm, Maverick Landing Community Services, and Veronica Robles Cultural Center—to demonstrate practices they use to promote healing. All videos are produced by Doza Visuals in conjunction with the ICA. The Harbor Room will also include a drop-in artmaking activity co-authored by the East Boston Social Center’s Director of Joy, Krina Patel. 

Artist Biography 
Guadalupe Maravilla (b. 1976) received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts and his MFA from Hunter College in New York. His recent solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; and the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Olso were critically acclaimed with reviews in the New Yorker, The New York Times, Forbes, and NPR. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Olso; and Tate Modern, London, among others. He has received numerous awards and fellowships including; United States Artists Fellowship, 2023; Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award, 2022; Joan Mitchell Foundation Inaugural Fellowship, 2021; Andrew W. Mellon Foundation & Ford Foundation Latinx Artist Fellowship, 2021; Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 2019; Soros Fellowship: Art Migration and Public Space, 2019; Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, 2016; and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Award, 2003. He recently became an Art for Justice Artist Fellow, receiving the Art for Justice Grant, 2023. He has since directed this $100k grant to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where he has been providing free meals and sound baths to undocumented immigrants, cancer survivors, and asylum seekers. 

About the Watershed 
In 2018, the ICA opened its new ICA Watershed to the public, expanding artistic and educational programming on both sides of Boston Harbor—the Seaport and East Boston. Located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, the ICA Watershed transformed a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a cultural asset to experience large-scale-art. It has since presented one immersive exhibition each summer, until it was closed to the public in 2020 to support the city and state in their efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. During the pandemic, it was used as a food distribution site to address a direct need within the East Boston community, which experienced one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Boston. The cross-harbor connection to the Watershed was designed to deepen the vibrant intersection of contemporary art and civic life in Boston and is central to the ICA’s vision of art, civic life, and urban vitality. 

About the ICA 
Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.  


Exhibition Credits 

Support for Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago is generously provided by anonymous donors.  

Additional thanks to Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago media sponsor, El Planeta. 

(Boston, MA—May 2, 2023) The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) announced today that Ruth Erickson has been appointed the museum’s Barbara Lee Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs. Erickson will lead the vision and development of the ICA’s exhibitions and collection, in alignment with the ICA’s mission to present and serve diverse artists and audiences, and offer a global view of today’s contemporary art practices.

“I am positively elated that Ruth Erickson will serve as the ICA’s Barbara Lee Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs,” said Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA. “As an art historian and a humanist, Ruth will lead with a keen eye, open heart, and clear vision for justice and the ways in which art, artists, and museums can make meaning, build community, and inspire hope and change.”

“I am thrilled to expand my work at the ICA, a place I know well and love deeply,” said Erickson. “I look forward to building upon a decade of collaboration with artists and colleagues across the museum to deepen and expand our engagement with audiences, amplify the impact and visibility of our permanent collection, and advance new art and ideas through commissions and significant exhibitions.”

Assuming the position June 1, Erickson will succeed Eva Respini, who is stepping down from the role after eight years at the ICA. Respini will return to the ICA as a guest curator for the forthcoming exhibition of Firelei Báez in March 2024, the artist’s first museum survey.

Currently serving as Mannion Family Senior Curator, Erickson has been a driving force in the ICA’s curatorial department since joining the museum in 2014. Among her many projects, she has organized major thematic group exhibitions, including the critically acclaimed To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood (2022)A Place for Me: Figurative Painting Now (2022), and When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art (2019); a significant artist survey and publication Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist (2017); and solo presentations of María Berrío (2023)Barbara Kruger (2022)Vivian Suter (2019)Wangechi Mutu (2018), and Kevin Beasley (2018), among others. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the 2015 exhibition and publication Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–57 (for which she was co-editor and served as research fellow), Ruth Asawa: All is Possible (2021), Kevin Beasley (2018)Sue Williams (2015), and Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology (2014). Before joining the ICA, Erickson was a fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia (2008–10) and served as curator at Burlington City Arts (BCA) (2004–7). She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania, and her B.A. from Carleton College, Northfield, MN. Erickson is the recipient of a prestigious Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellowship in 2021.

Erickson’s forthcoming exhibition Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago opens at the ICA Watershed on May 25. The exhibition includes a major new commission by the artist – a large-scale vibrational healing instrument made from a transformed school bus – and is centered around ideas of community and care.

About the ICA

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. For more information, call 617-478-3100. Follow the ICA on FacebookInstagram, and TikTok.

On View at the Hirshhorn in Fall 2023 and in a joint presentation at LACMA and CAAM in Summer 2024

Exhibition is accompanied by the first monograph of Leigh’s work

(Boston, MA, March 15, 2023)—The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) welcomes home Simone Leigh’s work created for the Venice Biennale, kicking off a national tour that begins at the ICA on April 6 and runs through September 4, 2023. Leigh represented the United States at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, in a project commissioned by the ICA. 29 works will be presented in Simone Leigh, including 9 works exhibited at the U.S. Pavilion. The exhibition also features key early works that speak to the artist’s consistent interest in the forms and materials of Black feminist thought, and recent ceramics, bronzes, and videos.

Following its debut at the ICA, the exhibition will then move to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. from November 2023 through March 2024. The tour will conclude in a joint presentation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and California African American Museum (CAAM), on view June 2024 through January 2025 in Los Angeles. Simone Leigh is organized by Eva Respini, ICA Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with Anni A. Pullagura, Curatorial Assistant.

“Simone Leigh’s complex and profoundly moving work honors the agency and ideas of Black women, giving visibility to overlooked narratives and histories,” said Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA. “We are thrilled to bring Simone Leigh’s art from Venice back to the U.S. as part of this landmark exhibition, so that audiences across the country have the opportunity to experience the work of this consequential and influential artist.”

“It is with pleasure that we expand this presentation to go beyond the works from Venice, including many recent works on view for the first time,” said Eva Respini, who was the Co-Commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion and Curator of the exhibition. “This exhibition reveals and celebrates an artist working at the height of her artistic powers.” 

Featuring interrelated sculptures in ceramic, bronze, and raffia, the first galleries of the exhibition will display recent and new works made largely within the past five years. The exhibition culminates with Leigh’s historic Venice exhibition, presented at the ICA in a sequence that evokes the layout of the U.S. Pavilion, providing American audiences the opportunity to experience this historic installation. The exhibition concludes with Last Garment (2022), a bronze based on a 19th-century souvenir photograph of a Jamaican laundress that explores histories of labor, specifically the anonymous labor of Black women. The ICA presentation will feature a new, larger reflecting pool for Last Garment, breathtakingly situated with a sightline of Boston Harbor.

One of the most important artists working today, Leigh creates sculpture, video, installation, and social practice works that situate questions of Black femme, or female-identified, subjectivity at the center of contemporary art discourse. Leigh’s art addresses a wide swath of historical periods, geographies, and traditions, with specific references to vernacular and hand-made processes from across the African diaspora, as well as forms traditionally associated with African art and ritual, all while mining historical gaps, inaccuracies, and fallacies in material and visual culture. Saidiya Hartman’s conception of “critical fabulation”—a strategy that invites historians, artists, and critics to creatively fill the gaps of history—provides a resonant framework for approaching Leigh’s work.

The exhibition features works at both intimate and large scale. A selection of Leigh’s table-top ceramic busts point to her fluency in the medium of ceramics, including references to the Black American folk art tradition of stoneware face vessels; these citations are also rehearsed in larger ceramic works, which draw on the vernacular traditions of the American South, Caribbean, and African continent, and challenge traditional hierarchies of art and labor. Domestic vessels such as bowls and jugs, cowrie shells, and busts are recurring motifs, and her readdress of these forms over time and in various materials underscores the remarkable consistency of Leigh’s vision.

In recent large-scale ceramic sculptures, Leigh merges the human body with traditional domestic containers, conjuring black woman’s labor and knowledge production. The intersection of architecture with the body is also central to her sculpture, such as the work Cupboard IX (2019), seen in the steel cage-like structures that the artist leaves bare or covered with raffia, evoking the womb, skirts, and sub-Saharan dwellings, often built by women and used as gathering spaces. 

In 2018, the artist began casting her sculptural works in bronze, creating statuary for both gallery presentations and public art commissions. Her bronzes combine figuration with domestic or architectural elements, such as in the 2019 sculpture Jug, featuring the head and torso of a woman’s body atop a large-scale vessel. Through their material choices, these bronzes embody a state of permanence and grandeur; with their overtly Black feminist and aesthetic references, Leigh’s bronzes also insist on the centrality—indeed, the necessity—of considering the agency of Black women as subjects in the cultural sphere. The exhibition will feature Leigh’s monumental 24-foot-tall bronze Satellite (2022), sited at the entrance of the ICA, broadcasting ideas around self-determination that are endemic to the work.

Leigh’s videos, often created in collaboration with other artists, draw from historical and fictional representations of Black women and femmes. Conspiracy (2022), made with filmmaker Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, focuses on the performativity of making and the studio as a site of labor and care. In the video my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell (2011), Leigh and artist Chitra Ganesh reimagine the reclining female nude, a common subject in European art. Another 2011 collaboration between Leigh and artist Liz Magic Laser, titled Breakdown, features mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran singing a script the two artists compiled from fictional scenes of individuals experiencing nervous breakdowns, offering a stunning meditation on psychology, race, and gender.

Publication

A major scholarly monograph is forthcoming, including images of works in the exhibition, installation views from Leigh’s Venice presentation, and images of works from throughout her career, accompanies the exhibition. Serving as the first comprehensive scholarly publication on Leigh’s practice, the publication includes newly commissioned essays by over fifteen leading scholars, historians, and writers; a conversation between Simone Leigh, Lorraine O’Grady, and Malik Gaines; and an introduction by Eva Respini. The catalogue is designed by Nontsikelelo Mutiti, and co-published by the ICA and DelMonico Books. The monograph will be available summer 2023.

Contributors to the publication include:
Vanessa Agard-Jones
Rizvana Bradley
Dionne Brand
Denise Ferreira da Silva
Malik Gaines
Saidiya V. Hartman
Daniella Rose King
Jessica Lynne
Nomaduma Masilela
Katherine McKittrick
Uri McMillan
Sequoia Miller
Steven Nelson
Tavia Nyong’o
Lorraine O’Grady
Rianna Jade Parker
Yasmina Price
Anni A. Pullagura
Eva Respini
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Christina Sharpe 
Hortense J. Spillers

The publication is available for pre-order from the ICA Store; please click here to place your order.


Exhibition Credits

The U.S. Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia was co-commissioned by Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director, and Eva Respini, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Lee Chief Curator, at the ICA.

Simone Leigh is organized by Eva Respini, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with Anni A. Pullagura, Curatorial Assistant.

With warmest thanks, the ICA/Boston gratefully acknowledges the following philanthropic partners for their magnificent support.

Ford Foundation transparent.png

Mellon Foundation logo

Major support is provided by the Ford Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. 

eu2be logo

Lead corporate support is provided by eu2be.
 

Logo for Bloomberg Philanthropies

support-wagner@2x.png

Generous support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser, Girlfriend Fund, and Wagner Foundation

Logo for TERRA Foundation for American Art

Henry Luce Foundation logo

Leadership gifts are provided by Amy and David Abrams, Stephanie Formica Connaughton and John Connaughton, Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, James and Audrey Foster, Agnes Gund, Jodi and Hal Hess, Hostetler/Wrigley Foundation, Barbara and Amos Hostetter, Brigette Lau Collection, Henry Luce Foundation, Kristen and Kent Lucken, Tristin and Martin Mannion, Ted Pappendick and Erica Gervais Pappendick, Gina and Stuart Peterson, Helen and Charles Schwab, and the Terra Foundation for American Art

Helen Frankenthaler Foundation logo

Essential support is also provided by Suzanne Deal Booth, Kate and Chuck Brizius, Richard Chang, Karen and Brian Conway, Steven Corkin and Dan Maddalena, Federico Martin Castro Debernardi, Jennifer Epstein and Bill Keravuori, Esta Gordon Epstein and Robert Epstein, Negin and Oliver Ewald, Alison and John Ferring, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, Vivien and Alan Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation, Peggy J. Koenig and Family, The Holly Peterson Foundation, David and Leslie Puth, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Leslie Riedel and Scott Friend, Mark and Marie Schwartz,  Kim Sinatra, Tobias and Kristin Welo, Lise and Jeffrey Wilks, Kelly Williams and Andrew Forsyth, Nicole Zatlyn and Jason Weiner, Jill and Nick Woodman, Marilyn Lyng and Dan O’Connell, Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg Foundation, Kate and Ajay Agarwal, Eunhak Bae and Robert Kwak, Jeremiah Schneider Joseph, Barbara H. Lloyd, Cynthia and John Reed, and anonymous donors

(Boston, MA—March 29, 2023) Cicely Carew, Venetia Dale, and Yu-Wen Wu have been named the recipients of the 2023 James and Audrey Foster Prize Exhibition, the museum announced today. Their exhibition at the ICA, on view August 24–January 2, will encompass a wide range of media—from sculpture and installation to time-based media and works on paper—examining how each of the Boston-area artists uniquely engages with the theme of states of change, the passage of time, and transformation. The 2023 James and Audrey Foster Prize Exhibition is organized by Anni A. Pullagura, curatorial assistant.

“Jim and Audrey Foster’s support of the exhibition and prize program have made it possible for the ICA to highlight some of the most exciting new art being made in Boston today, and we are ever thankful,” said Jill Medvedow, the Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA. “This cross-generational trio of artists brings a spectrum of perspectives to this year’s exhibition, and we look forward to sharing their vision with all our audiences.”
 

“We are pleased to congratulate the 2023 Foster Prize artists. Their unique perspectives will bring a dynamic energy to the galleries,” the Fosters added. “Their work illustrates the creativity and diversity of Boston’s artistic community today.”
 

This year’s selection of artists for the James and Audrey Foster Prize Exhibition is informed by sustained and ongoing conversations with artists in Boston working through tenuous moments of social, political, and personal transition. The projects exhibited this year explore the idea of states of change, whether that refers to changes in personal or professional lives, the changing forces in our relational or ecological lives, or the very nature of materials undergoing transformation in the making of an artwork.

James and Audrey Foster endowed the prize and the exhibition to nurture and recognize exceptional Boston-area artists. First established in 1999, the James and Audrey Foster Prize (formerly the ICA Artist Prize) expanded its format when the museum opened its new facility in 2006.
 

Artist Biographies

Cicely Carew (b. 1982 in Los Angeles) wields the formal, material, and sculptural aspects of painting to evoke feelings of radical joy, hope, and liberation. Her works explore the fleeting magic of the present through vibrant color, rebellious mark-making, sweeping gestures, and references to the terrestrial and cosmic worlds. In addition to group exhibitions and commissions by Now + There at the Prudential Center in Boston, she has had solo exhibitions at the Fitchburg Art Museum, The Commons in Provincetown, Northeastern University, and Simmons University. She is the recipient of the 2021 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award, an Artful Seeds Fellowship, and a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award. Her work is in the collections of Fidelity, Simmons University, Northeastern University, the Cambridge Arts Council, and the Federal Reserve of Boston. In addition to her studio practice, she is a wellness coach and educator as the 2021–22 Artist in Residence at Shady Hill School, teaching workshops for the New Art Center in Newton and screen printing for Lesley University. Carew earned a B.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a M.F.A. from Lesley University’s College of Art + Design, and resides with her son in Cambridge, MA.

Venetia Dale (b. 1981 in Winfield, IL) is an artist, mother, and educator living and working in Boston. Her sculptures—made of cast pewter, a malleable metal commonly found in historical kitchenware—and fiber artworks piece together fragments of mundane objects into new associations, drawing from food leftover from her children’s meals, to unfinished embroidery and hand-hooked rugs she sources online. She is interested in the material histories of embroidery and pewter in connection to the anonymous stewards who keep things clean, fixed, and loved. She re-contextualizes visible forms of care, growth, and change to evoke the intimacy and generative potential of domestic life. Dale has participated in group exhibitions at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (forthcoming), National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Villa Terrace Museum, and the Racine Art Museum, among others. Her work has been shown at 92nd Street Y Tribeca Gallery, Proof Gallery, and SOIL Gallery. She was the 2019 Polly Starr Thayer Visiting Artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Prior, she was a resident artist at the Kohler Factory in 2013 and at the Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2010. Dale exhibits nationally and her work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Metal Museum in Tennessee, and the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin.

Yu-Wen Wu (born in Taipei, Taiwan) is a Boston-based interdisciplinary artist. Wu’s subjectivity as an immigrant is central to her artwork, which examines issues of displacement, arrival, assimilation, and the shape of identity in a new country. At the crossroads of art, science, politics, and social issues, her practice includes drawing, sculpture, site-specific video installations, community engaged practices, and public art. Wu recently exhibited Lantern Stories at Chin Park in Boston’s Chinatown, a widely acclaimed commission by the Greenway Conservancy in 2020 and reinstalled in 2022; a similar project commissioned for San Francisco Chinatown also opened permanently in 2022. Other large-scale commissioned works include The Poetry of Reason, a recent wall sculpture spanning two stories at the Joyce Cummings Center at Tufts University, and Terrain, a 38-foot-long sculptural drawing for the Chao Center at Harvard Business School. Wu’s recent exhibitions include DISPLACED: Contemporary Artists Confront the Global Refugee Crisis at SITE Santa Fe, NM in 2020; her solo exhibition Internal Navigations at Praise Shadows Art Gallery in 2021; and her presentation at Independent Art Fair 2022 recognized by New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz as one of “The Best New York Art Shows of 2022.” Wu is the recipient of the 2019 inaugural Prilla Smith Brackett Award and the 2021 Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship. Her work is included in several public and private collections, including Harvard Art Museums, the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Tufts University Art Galleries, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, and the Weisman Art Museum.
 

About the ICA

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

(Boston, MA—December 20, 2022) On February 16, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) opens María Berrío: The Children’s Crusade—the first time this major new series of paintings have been shown together in a museum exhibition. Based in New York, María Berrío (born 1982 in Bogotá, Colombia) crafts her large-scale paintings through a unique and meticulous process of collaging torn pieces of Japanese paper on canvas. Using these thin layers of colorful paper like a palette of paint, she then applies watercolor to complete her riveting, magical scenes that speak to urgent real-world issues, including migration and the life experiences of women and children. Organized by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Senior Curator, María Berrío: The Children’s Crusade will be on view through August 6.

“Pressed by contemporary social and political realities, María locates her sources of inspiration in poetry, folklore, and the realms of magic to imagine alternative views of present-day truths, especially those faced by migrants, women, and children,” said Erickson. “Her large-scale works reflect on cross-cultural connections and global migration, and we’re honored the ICA is presenting her work in Boston for the first time.”

Energized by the contact point between reality and magic, Berrío frames her series as fictional stories, with each painting serving as a scene from an unfolding and otherworldly tale, accompanied by a descriptive text. She blends draftsmanship and drawing with meticulous collage and painting, creating a distinctive visual language for her narrative, figurative art.

This important series of new paintings—many created especially for this exhibition—blend the history of the thirteenth-century Children’s Crusade with the current mass migrations of peoples across the Mediterranean and the U.S. border. While the actual events of the Children’s Crusade continue to be a subject of debate among historians, legends of miracles and tragedies have inspired an abundance of stories, songs, and artwork over centuries.

Speaking about the new series, the artist says: “The main focus and the main characters are children and their perceptions as seen through fantasy and magical realism. As the children embark on this arduous journey, they infuse the ordinary with the mythic, as their innocent and imagined interpretation of the world bumps against stark realities. The darker and more bleak aspects of these travels are depicted through the naivete, humanity, love, and wonder of a child’s eyes.”

Berrío draws inspiration from diverse sources to reflect on the contemporary realities facing migrants and unaccompanied minors today. For example: Ozymandias (2022) is based on the poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelly and shows a child (the artist’s son) lying on his back with eyes closed, tracing an arc in the sand; Under Thatch and Autumn Star (2022) is inspired by the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin and depicts three children in bed who are left behind, and the troubled sleep that would haunt them; and Calvary (2022) is of children riding a carousel, a poignant symbol of the often-endless journey children experience during migration. Other forthcoming works reimagine the child migrant through such figures as birds and human-animal hybrids and meditate on issues of flight, freedom, control, and protection.

“As a storyteller, creating the character knowing this character doesn’t exist anywhere else but in the picture makes for a better story. I find it so much more interesting to create characters not knowing who they are entirely,” said Berrío. “Throughout my career, I’ve acknowledged the responsibility of making these works and the importance of a story. For me, the end result is when there is a moment of silence when you connect to the artwork and when you can feel something.”

Related Programming

Gallery Talk: María Berrío
Sunday, March 5, 2 pm
Free with museum admission
Join the artist and curator for a conversation about María Berrío: The Children’s Crusade.

About the Artist

María Berrío was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1982, and she completed her BFA at Parsons School of Design and her MFA at the School of Visual Arts, both New York, NY. The artist’s first survey María Berrío: Esperando mientras la noche florece (Waiting for the Night to Bloom) was on view at The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach from January until May 2021 and was accompanied by the artist’s first monograph. Her work has also been featured in numerous recent group exhibitions, including Women Painting Women, The Modern, Fort Worth (2022); Born in Flames: Feminist Futures, Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY (2021); Labor: Motherhood & Art in 2020, University Art Museum at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM (2020); Present Tense: Recent Gifts of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art (2019); and Prospect.4 Triennial, New Orleans (2017–2018). Berrío’s work is part of numerous permanent collections, including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Dallas Museum of Art; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China, among others.

About the ICA

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram