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(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.
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.