THE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON

PRESS RELEASE


EXHIBITION AT THE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART'S NEW WATERFRONT MUSEUM  
FEATURES FINALISTS FOR JAMES AND AUDREY FOSTER PRIZE 
 
An exhibition of work by the finalists for the 2006 James and Audrey Foster Prize will be on display when the ICA opens its new waterfront museum on December 10, 2006. The exhibition, featuring work by Sheila Gallagher, Jane D. Marsching, Kelly Sherman, and Rachel Perry Welty, will remain on view through March 11, 2007. The winner of the $25,000 biennial prize, recognizing Boston-area artists who demonstrate exceptional artistic promise, will be announced in February.

"The James and Audrey Foster Prize acknowledges the wealth of talent in our community," says Jill Medvedow, James Sachs Plaut Director of the ICA. "For the new ICA, we have revamped the award process to give our visitors a broader glimpse into the artistic innovation thriving in and around Boston."

First established in 1999, the James and Audrey Foster Prize (formerly the ICA Artist Prize) has an expanded format as the museum opens a new facility with 17,000 square feet of gallery space and a more diverse exhibition program. Beginning with the 2006 prize, the $25,000 award-increased from $5,000-will be awarded biennially, and will be accompanied by an exhibition of up to four finalists.

This year's finalists were chosen from a pool of over forty of their peers by a distinguished jury including Lisa Corrin, Director of the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, MA; Taylor Davis, artist, associate professor at Massachusetts College of Art, and winner of the 2001 ICA Artist Prize; Billie Tsien, Principal of Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates in New York; and Benjamin Weil, Director of Artists Space in New York. This jury will also decide the winner from the following artists:

Sheila Gallagher
Sheila Gallagher uses combinations of painting, video, sound, drawing, and sculpture to express intangible phenomena, with examples ranging from attempts to prove the existence of miracles to the practice of making New Year's resolutions. For this exhibition, Gallagher has created Unknown Source, a series of related works inspired by "The Cloud of Unknowing," a seminal text by an anonymous 14th-century Christian mystic offering a practical path toward contemplation. Landscape and cloud imagery serve as the series' primary visual metaphors, through which Gallagher explores the tension between the known world and alternate states of awareness. For these works she uses unexpected materials that are both highly physical and impermanent, such as fresh flowers and soot. On view are Cumulonimbus, her startling depiction of clouds with fresh flowers, and a series of landscapes made with smoke and inspired by luminism (a term coined for 19th-century American landscape painting characterized by dramatic views of natural and celestial light). A video work blends images of people engaged in prayer and people dowsing (where pendulums or rods are used to locate water beneath the earth's surface) with depictions of the natural world above and below. An arrangement of live flowers emits sound. Gallagher earned a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1996. She is Assistant Professor in Fine Art at Boston College.

Jane D. Marsching
Jane D. Marsching's work explores belief, the paranormal, and the far reaches of the universe. Her contribution to the exhibition is Arctic Listening Post, a multi-layered, ongoing project focused on the Arctic, a region that evokes visions of the sublime beyond and feats of exploration from yesteryear, while embodying current fears and hopes about the earth's ecological health. A seating area in the gallery, made from "upcycled" materials from the construction of the new ICA, offers access to three laptops through which the public may join a networked conversation between a core group of individuals-a glaciologist, a theologian, a political consultant, and a comedian-about the Arctic, climate change, and sustainability. Marsching's video, NOAA webcam, featuring images and sounds gathered daily from the North Pole by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over several months in 2003, is shown on a large plasma screen. Also on view is a suite of digital prints depicting people performing acrobatic stunts and other theatrics in 3D-rendered glacial landscapes, inspired by the 19th-century practice of Arctic explorers who enacted full-costume dramas in these settings. Marsching is Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts College of Art. She earned a Master of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1995.

Kelly Sherman
Kelly Sherman's video and text-based works balance her attraction and aversion to emotion in today's often cynical world. She creates charts, graphs, diagrams, and sequences of pictures that reveal the dynamics of family and social relationships. On view is The Family House, a four-part work of diagrammatic drawings that highlight shifts in household arrangements caused by divorce, and Wish Lists, a spare and orderly arrangement of forty lists collected from the Internet. These offer a powerful, suggestive glimpse into the lives of others, hinting at the age, gender, and circumstances of the various authors. The lists' requested items range from the most broad and basic, such as "school," to the minutely specific, such as "VideoNow Color Disks 3-Pack: Monster Garage 2." Sherman also presents Chairs, a video work that shows a parade of seating items offered for sale on eBay. Sherman earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Massachusetts College of Art in 2002. She was an Artist-in-Research at the Berwick Research Institute in Roxbury earlier this year.

Rachel Perry Welty
Rachel Perry Welty's drawing, video, sculpture, and installation work celebrates the overlooked beauty and humor of daily life. She makes use of disposable materials in surprising ways. Wall, created especially for the exhibition, was assembled from 128,000 silver twist-ties by over forty people during sixteen "twisting bees," resulting in a shimmering, evanescent structure that echoes the gallery's temporary exhibition wall. In her video work, Karaoke Wrong Number, Welty lip-synchs with expert timing and facial gesturing to messages left in error on her answering machine over several years. two-page spread, her twisted strand of over 2,600 feet of used multi-colored twist ties, grows as more of these are collected from friends, family, and her own shopping. The work is reconfigured to fit the available space each time it is exhibited. Also on view are Food Pyramid, an arrangement of miniature versions of grocery product boxes from Welty's own pantry, and Take Out, a new work that makes inventive use of take-out meal containers. Welty maintains a studio in Boston's Fort Point Channel. She earned a Fifth Year Certificate from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is a two-time winner of the school's Traveling Scholars Award.

The James and Audrey Foster Prize recognizes Boston artists whose work demonstrates adventurousness, conceptual strength, and skillful execution. Since its inception, the award has included a stipend and an exhibition at the ICA for the prize winner. Past recipients include Ambreen Butt (1999), Laylah Ali (2000), Taylor Davis (2001), Alice Swinden Carter (2002), Douglas R. Weathersby (2003), and Kanishka Raja (2004). The James and Audrey Foster Artist Prize program is organized by Carole Anne Meehan, a member of the ICA's curatorial staff.

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