Guadalupe Maravilla, Mariposa Relámpago, 2023. Installation view, Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2023. Photo by Mel Taing.
Guadalupe Maravilla (b. 1976 in San Salvador, El Salvador) grounds his sculpture, painting, performance, and large-scale installation in activism and healing, informed by his personal story of migration, illness, and recovery. At the age of eight, Maravilla fled El Salvador’s civil war as an unaccompanied minor and made a perilous journey through Central America to reunite with family in the United States. In the 2010s, Maravilla was diagnosed with colon cancer—an illness he links to generational trauma and the stresses of being undocumented—and during the recovery process, he was introduced to ancient methods of healing, including the use of sound. This life event shifted Maravilla’s practices, and he has since worked tirelessly to raise awareness of trauma and expand access to healing, nurturing collective narratives with a sense of perseverance and humanity.
This exhibition presents a selection of recent sculptures and paintings by Maravilla. At its center is Mariposa Relámpago (Lightning Butterfly), a newly commissioned work for the ICA Watershed and the artist’s largest sculpture to date. Mariposa Relámpago is part of the artist’s Disease Thrower series—sculptures that incorporate natural materials, handmade objects, and items collected by the artist while retracing his migratory route to become shrines and healing instruments. Every sculpture includes metal gongs that are activated by the artist during public sound baths to deploy the powers of vibrational sound as a form of healing. Maravilla’s 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. We invite you to explore this exhibition and come back for one of the many programs offered in collaboration with East Boston organizations and individuals who support community healing and well-being.