Press Release


On View:         Oct. 10, 2008 – Jan. 4, 2009

Location:         The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

About the exhibition:
The ICA is organizing the first major museum survey of American sculptor Tara Donovan. “The leap from the mundane to the miraculous” in her work is “visually and poetically exhilarating,” wrote The New York Times.  ICA curators have selected approximately 17 sculptures and installations from the past decade that capture the ambitious and ingenious approach of this young artist. The exhibition includes a new work never before on view.

With sensitivity to texture, volume, and the inherent physical properties of materials, Donovan transforms large quantities of mass-produced items—toothpicks, adhesive tape, straws, buttons, pins, plastic cups and Mylar—into stunning sculptural objects and installations. Layered, twisted, piled, or clustered with an almost viral repetition, her work assumes forms that either evoke natural systems or seem to defy the laws of nature. In Donovan’s hands, paper plates cluster like crystalline growths or coral colonies, and stacked straws billow like a vaporous cloud. Loose straight pins seem to magnetize into the form of a solid cube and hollow loops of silver-colored tape seem to reflect light like liquid bubbles. Her process hinges on manipulations of relatively economic means, but in massive quantities. The result: elegant compositions whose units remain familiar while their cumulative effect defies expectation.

The exhibition is organized by Nicholas Baume, chief curator at the ICA, and Jen Mergel, assistant curator at the ICA.

The exhibition coincides with the publication of Tara Donovan, a comprehensive 160-page monograph co-published by The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and The Monacelli Press/Random House, New York. Contents include an introductory essay by ICA curators Jen Mergel and Nicholas Baume, a conversation between the artist and Lawrence Weschler, an afterword by ICA director Jill Medvedow, and approximately 70 reproductions of all Donovan’s works to date.

Tour Venues:
Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati (Feb. 7-May 11, 2009)
Des Moines Arts Center (June 19 - Sept. 13, 2009)
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (Oct. 10, 2009 - Jan. 16, 2010)

Artist bio:       
Born in 1969 in New York, NY, Tara Donovan has had solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY (2007), the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO (2006), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2004), amongst others. Her work was featured in the 2000 Whitney Biennial and she was the recipient of the Alexander Calder Foundation’s first annual Calder Prize in 2005.  Donovan received her MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA (1999). 

Media Preview:             
A media preview of the exhibition will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008, at 9:30 a.m. RSVP to Colette Randall at 617-478-3181 or 

About the ICA:
An influential forum for multi-disciplinary arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art has been at the leading edge of art in Boston for seventy years. Like its iconic building on Boston’s waterfront, the ICA offers new ways of engaging with the world around us. Its exhibitions and programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The Institute of Contemporary Art, located at 100 Northern Avenue, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am – 5 pm; Thursday and Friday, 10 am – 9 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, and free for members and children 17 and under. Free admission on Target Free Thursday Nights, 5-9 pm. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our Web site at



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