A Day at the ICA Boston

This week’s blog post is by Katie Glazier, one of our amazing gallery interns who is a current senior at Boston University. Check our her review of the Institute of Contemporary Art after visiting for the first time!


It’s not something I would regularly admit, especially not to the readers of an art blog, but I had never been to the ICA before last weekend. While this might not seem that shocking, it is definitely a little out of character for me, being that I am in my final year of studying art history at Boston University, and on top of that am an intern at a contemporary art gallery. In my defense, I never intended on leaving it this long to make my first visit.  Life just seemed to always get in the way of my plans, and soon weeks, and then months passed without me making a trip. This was why I was so glad to hear that as part of my internship, I would get to finally embark on my long-awaited journey to visit the ICA Boston (if you follow Abigail Ogilvy Gallery on Instagram, you may have caught a glimpse of the interns as we documented our visit to the museum on our Instagram stories!).

Upon entering the museum, I immediately noticed the first exhibit just to the right of the entrance. There is a large wall, covered with what looks like a map of the continents and countries which extend off of the wall slightly. Getting closer, it becomes clear it is made of humanitarian rescue blankets that have been twisted and folded to create the continental shapes. In this exhibit, artist Wangechi Mutu creates an interactive piece to explore the idea of communication. The artist facilitate this contact through hanging pencils from the protruding continents, inviting visitors to write what they would like directly on the wall.  Thought provoking questions surrounding the work prompts articulation of thoughts and ideas. As this piece has been on display since mid-summer, the once bare wall is now covered in the scribbles and notes of the visitors to the museum.

Wangechi Mutu, A Promise to Communicate, 2017. Installation view, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2017. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. Source: ICA Boston website.

Sanya Kantarovsky, Violet, 2016, Oil on Linen, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2017. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. Source: ICA website.

Sanya Kantarovsky, Violet, 2016, Oil on Linen, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2017. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. Source: ICA website.

Moving on from the entrance, I proceeded with my fellow intern, Keara, to the buildings third floor. We started with the permanent collection, which included a variety of pieces in a wide range of media. This installment of the annual collection exhibition is called “Entangled in the Everyday.” The pieces on display consider the artists interaction with everyday experiences, many using materials that are typically mundane to create meaningful and compelling artwork. Works like Tara Donovan’s Nebulous, which uses Scotch tape to create a delicate installation on the floor, and Nari Ward’s Savior, which includes a shopping cart turned sculpture, demonstrate the transformative use of common objects. The exhibition also focuses on portraiture as another perspective on ordinary life, with pieces such as Sanya Kantarovsky’s Violet, which is an oil painting that depicts a sullen looking man and his dog as they ride the subway. This exploration of the ordinary is anything but mundane—each piece imbues new meaning and gives an insightful outlook to objects and experiences that may be otherwise overlooked.

Next we continued to an exhibition of Jason Moran’s interdisciplinary work, which focuses on the intersection of music (specifically jazz) and visual art. This moody, haunting and soulful exhibition almost mimics the qualities of jazz music itself. The viewer is surrounded by set installations that look like jazz venues of the past, coupled with some of Moran’s charcoal drawings are large screens that present video works created in collaboration with others. I personally enjoyed the immersive quality of the exhibition, as the few rooms it is housed in created a bubble where time was somehow halted to allow the visual and musical components to fully overtake the senses.

Finally, we made our way through the museums most recently added exhibition, “William Forsythe: Choreographic Objects.”  Similar to Jason Moran's exhibit, it is very immersive, and follows the current trend of interactive museum exhibitions. Viewers are encouraged to participate in the exhibition, as its main focus in on the body’s movements as choreography. In a way, it ties together nicely with the current installation of the museum’s permanent collection, as it explores an aspect of life that may not initially be viewed as art—our intrinsic bodily movements. Through interacting with each portion of the exhibit, the spectator becomes the subject. Keara and I couldn’t help but smile as we attempted to follow the set of instructions given at each point in the exhibit. We darted our way through swinging pendulums (Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No. 3, 2015), carefully held quivering feather dusters (Towards the Diagnostic Gaze, 2013), and attempted to climb gymnastic rings hanging from the ceiling (The Fact of Matter, 2009). Overall, the exhibition redefines the viewers understanding of the body as an artistic object and challenges the participants to consider the body’s strengths and limitations.

As we wrapped up our visit, I had feelings of satisfaction from having seen so many interesting and thought-provoking pieces, as well as a slight feeling of regret for not having visited sooner. Now that I have experienced the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, I can’t wait until a new exhibition is added and I have an excuse to visit again.

Summer Guide: University Art Galleries

Boston is a college town, so it's no surprise we have incredible university art galleries in the area. Last week we visited three exhibitions that we highly recommend adding to your summer bucket list! 

Harvard Art Museums
Analog Culture: Printer’s Proofs from the Schneider/Erdman Photography Lab, 1981–2001
Exhibition Dates: May 19 - August 12, 2018

Photo courtesy of Harvard Art Museums instagram @harvardartmuseums

Photo courtesy of Harvard Art Museums instagram @harvardartmuseums

The exhibition Analog Culture: Printer’s Proofs from the Schneider/Erdman Photography Lab, 1981–2001 at Harvard Art Museums presents nearly 450 photographs printed over three decades by Gary Schneider of the Manhattan-based studio Schneider/Erdman, Inc. as well as an informative look at darkroom photography and printing techniques.

This exhibit provides the viewer with a window into New York City art communities during the 1980’s through to the early 2000’s and their responses to issues of the time, notably the AIDS crisis. On display one can view images of “The Beatles, London, August 11, 1967” by Richard Avedon and “Twins at the Beach” by Louise Dahl-Wolfe as well as three-color photographs by Paul Thek and his studio by Peter Hujar.  The exhibition also includes photographs by Robert Gober, who is most well-known for his sculptures and installations. Visitors can interact with large monitors that display various videos about the printer’s practice. 

The exhibit is exciting to visit for someone who knows little about photography or for someone who is well versed in the matter. Overall, the show is a fantastic presentation of the work of numerous photographers in collaboration with the printer Gary Schneider. 

MIT List Visual Arts Center
Allison Katz: Diary w/o Dates
Exhibition Dates: May 18 - July 29, 2018

This summer the MIT List Visual Arts Center presents Allison Katz: Diary w/o Dates–her first solo exhibition in the United States. Allison Katz is a Canadian born painter currently living and working in London. This suite of 12 paintings is an exploration of the concept of the calendar and it’s regularly spaced demarcating of time. The paintings, which are all the same size, hang along the longest wall of the gallery with one painting on either end of the line spilling onto the short end walls. One painting for each calendar month hangs so that as the viewer enters the space they are met with their expanse. The opposite wall remains blank except for the titles which are along the floor molding directly across from their corresponding paintings.

Photo courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center and Peter Harris Studio

Photo courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center and Peter Harris Studio

According to the exhibition video Katz says that the exhibition title Diary w/o Dates refers to “a sort of contradiction that I wanted to get across which is that a diary is something structured by time, but if you remove the time component, it seems to be a sort of collection of experience connected to one person, but not necessarily personal.”  Katz’s goal in these paintings was also to explore the presentation of women in calendars and push against the exploitation of their images. Though they explore questions of women’s representation and historical exploitation in their images through the paintings’ relationship to calendar’s such as the French Republican calendar, showing each month as an allegorical woman, and the contemporary examples of Sports Illustrated calendars, the paintings do not take an explicitly feminist stance against exploitative modes of representation but rather simply offer a more subdued and more self expressive example of representation.

Boston University
Boston Young Contemporaries 
Exhibition Dates: June 22 — July 21, 2018

The Boston Young Contemporaries exhibition at Boston University displays works by nineteen graduate student artists from New England, providing viewers an introduction to up-and-coming artists in the Northeast. This eclectic curation of artworks was selected by this years BYC juror, Sean Downey, who received his MFA from Boston University. The exhibition includes paintings, photography, sculptures, and videos that span a variety of subjects. 

In her work Just an Everyday Conversation, Nicole Winning lines a metal shelf with glass bottles containing porcelain clay and water. The variation in clay used makes every bottle a unique shade of brownish-grey, and each bottle is labeled with a QR sticker that if scanned, takes the viewer to a video. William Karlen’s painting The Strangeness of Sleep (oil on canvas) depicts a blue sleeping bag, propped upright against a dark window. The sleeping bag appears to be empty and it is unclear how the limp fabric is able to maintain its gravity-defying position. Marisa Adesman’s Vertumnus’ Bride depicts a female figure whose skin resembles melting wax. The title of this painting refers to Italian painter Guiseppe Arcimboldo’s portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II as Vertumnus. Although instead of constructing her figure from vegetables, Adesman paints her subject in what resembles thick globs of paint that appear to have not yet dried, but is actually perfectly rendered frosting covering the figure's body.

As a whole, the exhibition is an impressive presentation of works by emerging artists. Each piece in the exhibition is excellent on its own, yet together the collection reveals the multitudes of talent in New England and celebrates the early careers of these artists. 

Photo courtesy: Sean Downey, exhibition juror

Photo courtesy: Sean Downey, exhibition juror

5 College Art Exhibits to Check Out This Semester

Boston is known for its abundance of higher education institutions. As the many local universities reopen in 2016, so do their galleries. Here are five current and upcoming college exhibitions to visit this winter:

1.     ConTexts at UMass Dartmouth’s University Art Gallery

            November 24, 2015 - February 14, 2016

Wendy Wahl: ConTexts
Photo Courtesy of UMass Dartmouth Art Gallery

The University Art Gallery at UMass Dartmouth is currently featuring ConTexts, a series of work by Wendy Wahl made entirely from repurposed encyclopedias. The pages are folded, rolled up, cut, and glued to form landscapes and creatures of shifting textures. Each piece transforms at every angle as the light plays through the thin paper. Catch Wahl’s work before the exhibit ends mid-February.

2. Free Air 4 You at Montserrat College of Art's Carol Schlosberg Gallery

        January 12 - February 7, 2016
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 21, 2016; 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Free Air 4 You
Remi Thornton
Digital C-Print, 2015
Image Courtesy of Montserrat College of Art

Opening late January at Carol Schlosberg Gallery, Free Air 4 You features the latest work of Massachusetts-based photographer Remi Thornton. Shot exclusively at night, Thornton’s photographs capture moments of poetic tension suspended in the glow of streetlights. Each image illuminates a small piece of the secrets hidden behind the cloak of night.

3.     Remnants at Boston University’s 808 Gallery

            January 29 - March 20, 2016
            Opening Reception: January 28, 2016; 6 p.m.

Image courtesy of Boston University

In late January, Boston University’s 808 Gallery will present work related to the French installation of South African artist Paul Emmanuel’s evocative series, Lost Men. Lost Men France was a public installation of five large silk banners depicting the artist’s body with the names of French, German, South African, and Allied servicemen imprinted on them. The banners flew in Somme for a summer, and the images of their wear, as well as the drawings, prints, and videos that appear alongside them, explore concepts of loss, remembrance, and male identity.


4.     Rosalyn Drexler: Who Does She Think She Is? at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum           

          February 12 – June 5, 2016

The Defenders
Rosalyn Drexler, 1963
Image Courtesy or Rosalyn Drexler / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York & Garth Greenan Gallery, New York, NY
Image Source Courtesy of The Rose Art Museum

The Rose Art Museum presents a retrospective exhibit of Rosalyn Drexler, iconic Pop artist and writer. Drexler has been a prominent figure in the New York art scene for many decades, and her work ranges from collages and large format paintings, to novels and screenplays. Every piece contains commentary of the social climate of the time, touching on weighty issues such as race, gender, and abuse. Opening Valentine’s Day weekend, Who Does She Think She Is? features multidisciplinary pieces that showcase Drexler’s career as an accomplished artist and cultural critic.

5.     I Must First Apologize… at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center

            February 19, 2016 - April 17, 2016
           Opening Reception: February 18, 2016; 6 p.m.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige,
The Rumor of the World, 2014
Video installation, 23 screens, 100 loudspeakers, 38 HD films variable lengths
Photo courtesy of Villa Arson, Nice, France
Image Courtesy of MIT List Visual Arts Center

Opening this weekend, I Must First Apologize is an installation in the Hayden and Reference Galleries of MIT’s List Visual Arts Center by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige that examine the history of online spam and scamming. The Beirut and Paris based artists have been collecting materials for this project since 1999, and this exhibition creates a visual narrative that explores the psychological techniques and complex relationships engrained within this cultural phenomenon.

Artist Spotlight: Keenan Derby

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is open!

Keenan Derby photographed with his work.

Today we are highlighting Atlanta native, Keenan Derby, one of the three emerging artists currently on view. Derby received his BFA in 2009 at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  He went on to get his MFA from Boston University College of Fine Arts, where we first discovered his work. He specializes in painting with acrylic, sand, and oil, made on both large and small scale. According to an interview with BU Today, Derby described his paintings as “…moments that hold a specific emotional filter processed through my own interior world.”

Keenan creates highly textured pieces that invite contemplation and thought. His larger works take up to four months to complete, he uses a variety of techniques to apply the mixed-media to the surface. The under layers are often bright and vibrant, but are masked by later layers that only allow small amounts of the original color to show through. Each viewer interprets Keenan's work differently, inviting a broad audience to decipher and translate the paintings from their own point of view. 

Derby currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he continues to paint. 

Zoomed in views from left to right: Perturbed Orbit (2015), Atmospheric River (2014), Magnetic Meridian II (2015) 


Wednesday, October 21, 2015: Lacy Tell