A Monumental Year:
Personal Stories + Powerful Art

The year began with immersive experiences on both sides of Boston Harbor. In A Place for Me: Figurative Painting Now, a new vanguard of painters depicted the people and places they love in ways that were colorful, surprising, and full of life.

Barbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca’s room-filling installation Swinguerra brought visitors to their feet with music and dance offering agency, resistance, and community for Brazil’s queer communities of color.

In the ICA Watershed, Revival: Materials and Monumental Forms presented large-scale installations by six artists who reclaim and reuse industrial and everyday materials: Ghanian artists El Anatsui and Ibrahim Mahama and U.S. artists Madeline Hollander, Karyn Olivier, Ebony G. Patterson, and Boston-based Joe Wardwell.

The major fall group exhibition To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood investigated the influences of children and childhood on 40 visual artists from the early 20th century to today, including Jordan Casteel, Francis Alÿs, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Paul Klee, Glenn Ligon, Oscar Murillo, and Faith Ringgold.

A bold site-specific commission by Barbara Kruger recalled one of her best-known works, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989, originally produced as a poster for the April 1989 March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC.

In María Berrío: The Children’s Crusade, the artist combined watercolor and collaged Japanese paper in stunning large-scale scenes tackling issues of mass migration. 

Berrío’s works are powerfully alluring, both in craft and sentiment: They ache with a desire for childhood to be kind and gentle, as childhood should be.

—The Boston Globe

A trio of commissions brought audiences back to our stage. Liz Gerring’s Harbor, created in two ICA residencies, thrillingly combined movement, newly commissioned music by celebrated composer John Luther Adams performed live by the JACK Quartet, and sumptuous lighting design by Jennifer Tipton.

The commission Family Ball, conceived during the pandemic, is a gripping exploration of partnership and intimacy by the husband-and-wife creative duo of pianist and composer Jason Moran and mezzo-soprano and composer Alicia Hall Moran. 

It really is us examining each other’s music repertoire, canon of songs: my favorite songs of Alicia, Alicia’s favorite songs of mine…. It’s the way that two people who love each other live with the work that we make about each other.

—Jason Moran

The season closed with the world premiere of Okwui Okpokwasili and Peter Born’s newest work, adaku pt. 1: the road opens, an ICA commission that imagines a pre-colonial village on the verge of social upheaval through dance, story, and music.

Also presented on our stage, Suzanne Bocanegra’s Honor starred actor Lili Taylor in the role of artist, delivering a captivating lecture on a famed 15th-century Dutch tapestry at the Met with pathos and wry wit.

New Acquisitions
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First Fridays celebrated new partnerships this year, including with Boston While Black and the Teachers’ Lounge, who took over the event with dancing and karaoke.

Works from the ICA’s commission of Simone Leigh for the United States Pavilion returned to the United States as part of a two-decade-spanning exhibition touring to Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

Leigh’s presentation in Venice broke Biennale attendance records, drawing more than 650,000 visitors over eight months. It culminated in October with Loophole of Retreat: Venice, a powerful and joyful convening of scholars, artists, and activists from around the world centered on Black women’s intellectual and creative labor. 

Audiences connected with artists in four Artist Voice talks this year, including an intimate and philosophical discussion between curator Jeffrey De Blois and artist Rose B. Simpson.

Simpson’s solo exhibition, Legacies, combined ancient Native American methods of producing clay pottery with contemporary concerns in haunting figurative sculptures. 


Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whatever you believe, what matters more than what comes next, and the generation that will carry it forward? Simpson’s work roots itself in her ancient culture, but imagines a world, finally, built for all of us.

—The Boston Globe

For Jordan Nassar: Fantasy and Truth, the Palestinian-American artist collaborated with craftswomen in the region to create imagined landscapes investigating ideas of home, land, and memory using traditional tatreez needlepoint. 

Artist Taylor Davis was invited to curate an exhibition from the ICA’s permanent collection – an ICA first.

No one part is more than another. So when I walk into the room and when I was looking at the work, all these things are necessary in order to create this matrix of release into a quiet kind of state of being able to feel. There’s not one piece, no matter who made it or when it was made, that’s more important. They’re all working together.

–Taylor Davis

For the ICA Watershed, Guadalupe Maravilla created his largest sculpture to date, Mariposa Relámpago (Lightning Butterfly), a “vibrational healing instrument” in a disused bus. Blending symbols and objects, spiritual and folk beliefs, natural materials and sound, Maravilla’s artworks explore the artist’s personal journey of migration, illness, and recovery.


In our most intensive artist engagement to date, Maravilla worked with ICA community partners in East Boston in over the course of eight months around issues of migration and healing, culminating in a series of sound baths in the Watershed space. 

An accompanying presentation in the Watershed’s Harbor View Room highlighted healing methods three different community organizations are using to work with East Boston residents.