A year of reflection and resilience

Buoyed by the popular success of Yayoi Kusama: LOVE IS CALLING and critical reception of When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art, this was a year of exceptional impact and shifting realities.

When Home Won’t Let You Stay eschews obvious activism and brings things down to earth, to the rough, lived experience of the growing legions of the displaced.

The Boston Globe

In summer 2019, the beloved Harborwalk Sounds series packed the waterfront for free concerts in partnership with Berklee College of Music.

Summer 2019 visitors to the Watershed lingered in John Akomfrah’s immersive film installation Purple….

…and a Family Day organized with East Boston partners drew nearly one thousand participants for music, dancing, art, and art-making.

Back in the Seaport, artist Vivian Suter’s colorful canvases transported viewers to her lush Guatemala outdoor studio.

Rashin Fahandej used stories and lullabies to connect with incarcerated fathers in the 2019 James and Audrey Foster Prize, the ICA’s biennial exhibition highlighting four outstanding local artists.

Foster Prize artists Helga Roht Poznanski, Lavaughan Jenkins, Rashin Fahandej, and Josephine Halvorson discussed their work with Mannion Family Curator Ruth Erickson in The Artist’s Voice.

The fall performance season kicked off with full houses for Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s iconic Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, performed by her company Rosas.

Turning, jumping, swinging arms…it somewhat resembles the way a child dances. Yet in opposition to the simplicity of movements stands the outspoken energy of its execution.

—Anne Teresa De Keersmaerker on Fase

In October, ICA Forum: Racism, Public Health, and Contemporary Art convened experts Nicole M. Brookshire, Barbara Ferrer, Steve Locke, and Jeneé Osterheldt to discuss improving health and civic life in Boston with Ellen Matilda Poss Director Jill Medvedow.

Performer and choreographer nora chipaumire challenged and embraced stereotypes of Africa, the black performing body, art, and aesthetics in their raw and visceral “live performance album.”

African American Shaker tradition and history inspired Reggie Wilson and his Fist and Heel Performance Group’s POWER.

Choreographer, performer, and ICA Artist Advisory Council member Faye Driscoll returned to the ICA with Thank You For Coming: Space, the third, and most searingly personal work in the series.


Carolina Caycedo’s Cosmotarrayas, hanging sculptures assembled with handmade fishing nets and other objects collected in river communities affected by the privatization of waterways, captivated audiences.

Tschabalala Self: Out of Body — the artist’s largest exhibition to date — showcased her signature technique combining drawing, printmaking, sewing, and collage to tell stories of urban life, the body, and humanity.

The “heroes” in Ms. Self’s work are everyday people — composite characters informed by those the artist has encountered or observed on the streets of her native Harlem or elsewhere

The New York Times

Sterling Ruby’s first comprehensive museum survey examined his range of materials and processes — from ceramics to drawing to quilting — and concerns including culture, institutions, craft, and labor.

Families connected through art and art-making in free monthly Play Dates, first in person…

…and then virtually, after the museum closed along with its Boston counterparts due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Teen programs also pivoted quickly to move their work online, and Boston Public School students who rely on credits through the ICA were able to earn them in time.

To serve the East Boston community hard hit by Covid-19, the ICA partnered with The Catered Affair to distribute fresh produce, dairy, staples, and artist-created activities to community partners at the Watershed.

For the 2020 Virtual Gala, artists Virgil Abloh and Sterling Ruby shared an intimate conversation about their work and lives during the pandemic and spring protests against systemic racism.

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