Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

ICA Free Thursdays opens art to Bostonians

Lilly Miron
The piece “THE WAILING… GUIDES US HOME… AND THERE IS BELLYING ON THE LAND…” by Ebony G. Patterson on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

The Institute of Contemporary Art offers free entry for the public every Thursday night from 5 p.m.-9 p.m., giving Bostonians the chance to connect with the museum’s latest exhibits.

Currently the gallery is showing three exhibits including Wordplay, Wu Tsang’s Of Whales and Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s-Today. Each exhibit varies uniquely in modes of artisanship, allowing viewers to escape into the ideascapes of each collection. 

Love, scrawled in radiating neon light is the first word you see as you enter Wordplay. It’s a fitting theme, as much of the work within the exhibit highlights the need for human connection and understanding. Some of the artists incorporate the language in a playful manner such as Rivane Neuenschwander, whose piece appropriates panels from the Brazilian comic strip of Jose “Ze” Carioca. 

Neuenschwander invites the public to interact with the art in real time by outlining their own comic scene with chalk. Some members of the public keep it light, drawing stick figures and labeling them as their valentine. Others use the opportunity to write ambiguous advice or political opinions. 

Another piece of artwork in the exhibit by Shepard Fairey, uses the Wordplay theme to demonstrate how culture uses words on popular posters to shape our collective identities. A different display intends reflection, both in the literal and literate sense. Two dark images hung side by side mirror the public, one emboldening the word identify and the other presenting identity

Exiting Wordplay leads you to Tsang’s Of Whales. The transformation between the two exhibits could not be more different. Wordsplay exudes light, color and a mosaic of ideas, while Of Whales is near pitch black with the only light emitting from a screen which flashes intricate designs in time with an orchestra of instruments, bringing the deep sea world to life. 

The presentation is a perfect depiction of Tsang’s style as an artist, whose work ranges from documentary and narrative film to live performances and video installations. Of Whales offers viewers a meditative space in which they can use the simulations to escape into their own imaginative dreamscapes. Friends, family members, couples and solo onlookers all sit in silence together taking in the immersive experience. 

After leaving Of Whales, visitors find themselves in a long hallway overlooking the Boston Harbor before turning into the Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s-Today exhibit. The vibrancy initiates a conversation of movement and evolution of Caribbean culture from the perspective of 28 artists with connections to the region. Walking through the exhibit, one can identify how each individual artist grapples with diaspora, the dispersal of people from their homeland, whether forced or voluntary. 

Many of the artists place focus on movement in their art, like Denzil Forrester whose oil painting, “Night Strobe 1985,” captures the ever changing energy from smoky nightclubs. Forrester would spend nights sketching the movements of the crowds, each sketch taking him a single song to complete. Those drawings, upwards of 40, were ultimately translated into the mesmerizing “Night Strobe.” 

Other artists like Ebony G. Patterson drew attention to the complications of globalization, begging the question of how ancestry origins live within us. Patterson’s explosion of colors and use of bejeweled culturally significant visuals engages visitors to appreciate the liveliness sourced out of the Caribbean, despite the region’s tribulations. Patterson’s title, “THE WAILING… GUIDES US HOME… AND THERE IS BELLYING ON THE LAND…,” encapsulates just that. 

The ICA is a gallery that stands as a reclusion for thoughtfulness, exposing visitors to an abundance of innovation. The Wordplay exhibit will be on display until Jan. 5, 2025, Of Whales will be displayed until Aug. 4 and the Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s-Today exhibit leaves soon on Feb 25. 

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