Date Of Visit: August 25, 2017
Location: 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA
Tuesday + Wednesday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Thursday + Friday*: 10 AM – 9 PM
*First Friday of every month: 10 AM – 5 PM
Saturday + Sunday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Closed Mondays, except on the following national holidays, when admission is FREE for all: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day.
Closed on Patriot’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
General Admission: $15
Youth 17 and under: FREE
Admission is FREE for all eve
Parking:There are several parking options that are listed at their ICA parking info
Highlights: creative art displays, info sessions about the art
- parking is very limited in this area. The museum recommends using public transportation.
- The museum only has art on the 1st and 4th floors of the building (mostly the 4th floor)
*I had to split this post into two parts, as it was too big for WordPress to save. Part I of this post will center upon the works of the featured artist Nari Ward. The second part of this post will focus on some of the other art at the museum. I have also included half of the number of the cute dogs I photographed during this visit*
Always at the intersection of art and social issues, he ICA (The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston) recently highlighted the works of an artist who uses his art to make various statements about our social, economic and political climate. Even if you may not agree with or see his points of view, I am sure you will enjoy his artistic aptitude.
During my visit, Jamaican and American Nari Ward’s work was being featured in his “Sun Splashed” exhibit at the museum.
Sunsplashed, 2015, is the centerpiece of the art exhibit. The second work of art is called, Scandal Bag: History Feeds Mistrust.
Nardi, born in 1963 in Jamaica and currently based in New York City, uses everyday items to create works of art that play on the history, economy and social issues surrounding his environment. He also embraces cultural diversity.
Nari uses wood, metal, iron and other materials with everyday items such as soda bottles. Nari hits on some hot button issues such as migration, citizenship and economic disparity in his works.
One of the things that struck me about these works of art is the thought and creativity that went behind all of them.
The We The People exhibit by Nari Ward was one of the main works of art at the ICA. In fact, many of his works of art are being featured
If you look very closely, you may notice it is not written in ink. Rather, it is spelled out in artistic dangling shoelaces. This exhibit was being displayed a block away from the museum. It surely created a lot of interest and lured in quite a few visitors eager to learn more about Nari’s works of art.
Below are Nari’s works of art that were being displayed with a brief description and explanation of their meaning. Sadly, his art is no longer there as the exhibit’s last day was September 3. The first work of art is rather unconventional. But, it was very interesting.
Jacuzzi Bed by Nari Ward is made of headboards arranged around heating lamps and fans. The work of art is meant to produce an approximation of the Caribbean breeze. The name is meant to conjure association with pleasure and comfort. Nari says the work conveys his sense of nostalgic displacement.
Sky Juice, 1993, is made of an umbrella, iron fence, plastic soda bottles, photographs, Tropical Fantasy soda and sugar. The soda bottles, hanging from the umbrella, have photos inside of them. His goal was to create a work of art with disparate things from everyday life to create a work of art everyone can relate to. “Sky Juice” is the name of a Bahamian drink made from coconut milk and gin (yum).
During my visit, one of the museum guides led an open discussion about the work of art where visitors and she discussed the deeper meaning of the work of art and what the work of art means to them. She did this several different works of art during my visit.
Mango Tourist, 2011, by Nari, are “snowman-like” sculptures are made of burnt foam spheres that he decorated with mango seeds and small electrical parts. The small capacitors bear traces of the economic and industrial history of New England and of course the snowmen are a staple of our winters. The organic mango seeds resonate with his memories of Jamaica.
Happy Smilers: Duty Free Shopping, 1996, by Nari is made of awning, plastic soda bottles, fire hose, a fire escape, salt, sand, household elements, an audio recording, speakers and an aloe vera plant. Party music and background conversation from the speakers gave the display a feeling of sitting on a fire escape on a hot summer night.
This exhibit was inspired by a candy store not far from where he lives in Harlem, New York. While the store appeared to be a convenience store, it was really the site of a small scale gambling site. This gave Nadir the idea of making an exhibit that shows you can’t judge a place, person or thing by outside appearances.
The name Happy Smilers was derived from a band that was led by Nadir’s uncle that entertained tourists in Jamaica in the 1970’s. The fire escape and discarded furniture wrapped in fire hoses suggest an urban tableau. The salt and sand, aloe vera plant, speakers and bright yellow walls are drawn from the cultural context of Jamaica. The salt evokes a common Jamaican expression about the devil not being able to step over salt. The succulent symbolizes healing. Lastly, the soundtrack symbolizes one of the artist’s earliest childhood memories of lying in bed at night while he listened to rain fall on his tin roof in Jamaica.
The Naturalization Table is an exhibit based on Nari’s personal experience of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, this interactive artwork gives museum visitors a better understanding of that process. During certain days, visitors could add their photo to the display.
Radha Liquorsoul, 2010, is a metal and neon sign made of PVC tube, artificial flowers, shoelaces and shoe tips. This was part of a work made from out of use liquor store signs that Nari removed from building facades in New York. Ward was interested in the many uses and impact liquor has in our lives. Nari also used shoe tips (which Nari considers a a signature material that symbolizes human presence), shoelaces and artificial flowers. Nari was partly inspired by impromptu street or roadside memorials.
Homeland, Sweet Homeland, 2012, is made of cloth, plastic, megaphones, razor wires, feathers, chains and silver spoons. The “Miranda Rights” which are listed on this work have appeared as a running theme on many of Nari’s works. The combination of razor wire, megaphones, leather and gold thread with feathers were meant to evoke a kitschy domestic memento and a heraldic government edict.
Rock, Booked, Scissor, Vice, 2010, is made of book, rock, scissors and vice. This exhibit was spawned from a mistake. When Nari first saw the “Black’s Law Dictionary” as a child he thought there were different law dictionaries for white and black people. Although his brother corrected, his initial thought stuck with him and inspired his work. To create this work, Nari cinched the dictionary with a vice, pierced it with scissors and weighted it with a stone. It is meant to symbolize a violent reenactment of the game “rock, paper, scissors.” It is meant to represent the seemingly arbitrary application of the law experienced by people in many of the communities in America.
Savior, 1996, is made of a shopping cart, plastic garbage bags, cloth, bottles, metal fence, earth, wheel, mirror, chair and clocks. Nari constructed the sculpture by utilizing the shopping cart, a common item, and using items to bling it up. In the blue bag you can see clocks. The sculpture had an accompany video titled, “Pushing Savior.”
Iron Heavens, 1995, made of metal pans, cotton and wooden bats came from Nari’s observation that the holes dotting the the metal surfaces of certain baking pans look like stars. Nari collaged pans together on a wall to evoke the night sky.
Nari used baseball bats to form a ground to the heaven above. The bats were burned, sterilized and had cotton applied to their surfaces. This was meant to convey violence and healing. The materials were also used to signify the American South, especially the older south. The cotton was used to signify slavery as that was the main crop slaves used to pick. The baseball bats were used to signify the violence many blacks suffered. The overall arrangement recalls the yard assemblages and sculptural folk traditions of the region.
Glory, 2004, consists of an oil barrel, fluorescent and ultraviolet tubes, computer parts, DVD audio recording, Plexiglas, fan, camera casing elements, paint cans, cement, towels and rubber roofing membrane.
The tanning bed is made out of old oil barrels. As this work of art was built one year after the Iraq attack, he used the oil barrels represent the political debates over the connection between oil and patriotism.
The oil barrel also signifies the issues related to identity and race. While in some cultures, a tan is viewed as a mark of leisure and privilege. However, “pigmentocracy” can ascribe a higher value to lighter skin tones in some societies.
As you stand by the Glory sculpture, you can hear recordings of voices and people talking in hushed tones.
Afroochase, 2010, made of ink, a found vinyl banner, cowrie shells, Afro picks and felt weatherstripping is built from a Chase Bank banner that he found mixed with various materials each of which have a symbolic meaning.
The cowrie shell has several possible meanings. The shell has been used as a form of currency, It is also used in divination ceremonies in African and North African and South African religious contexts.
Afro picks have been used as a symbol of black cultural identity and the shapes of the particular picks (the raised fist of the Black Power movement) refers to black nationalism and resistance.
Crusader, 2006, is made of a shopping cart, chandelier, trophy elements, metals, plastic bags and plastic containers.
Crusader has been described as a radiant poetic work that mixes the personal and political. Nari used comedy to make a political statement about his feelings concerning the second Gulf War. Oil plays a central theme in many of his works, evident by the oil canisters in this work.
Beat Box, made of an old New York City payphone, a drum and a fire extinguisher was made as a way of showing the different ways people have communicated. The old (the drums which have been used as nonverbal communication in some traditions ) with the modern (the payphone). After Ward had modified the pay phone he put it back outside where it had originally came from. Imagine the looks on the people’s faces when they tried to make phone calls!
I noticed how Nari likes to incorporate audio and videos into his exhibit. This is only one example of this. Those chairs look very comfortable!
Den, 1999, made of wood, chain-link fence, metal pole, tacks, rug and wooden furniture legs
Chrysalis, 2010, made of mirror, rope, foam, and a found paper bag
Vertical Hold, 1996, made of yarn and bottles. This sculpture was made from old, used glass bottles Nari found at a dump site and some bottles he found while he was in residence at a Shaker community in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. He wove the bottles together with string thus creating a web that he described as a quilt. This work was inspired by bottle trees, a traditional African, Caribbean and Southern black sculptural form that was believed to protect against evil spirits.
Canned Smiles, 2013, explores the intersection of art history and identity. Nari was influenced by another artist, Piero Manzini. Piero created Merda d’artista (Artist’s Shit) that consisted of 90 small cans labeled with the title that he sold. The art exhibit by Piero was a sarcastic way of saying that anything that belongs to an artist is worth value. It also was a commentary about how not all art may have merit.
Ward’s art display aims to question people’s perceived stereotypes and the reality of constructed values. Nari used the Black Smiles idea to play on the minstrel shows which used to be popular in America during the 19th century. The work inspires us to ask whether the notion of a smile trapped in a can is any more or less strange than the ideas we construct around identity.
During my visit, the ere was a social gathering on the desk of the museum. Music, food and refreshments were being served and there were a number of therapy dogs at the event.
A “cuddle zone” was created by visual artist J.R. Uretsky. The “Cuddle Zone” featured nine therapy dogs from Dog B.O.N.E.S. There was also quilted works for people to use as comfort aids. You will also some of the dogs wore or sat on these quilted comfort aids.
Hey, we all can use this kind of therapy!
In fact, the dogs were so popular and in such high demand, I was only able to photograph two of these special dogs.
Spider is a 5 year old chihuahua.
Ruby Pearl is a 4 year old pitbull.
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