Guadalupe Maravilla, Mariposa Relámpago, 2023. Courtesy of Guadalupe Maravilla and P·P·O·W, New York. © Guadalupe Maravilla
This summer, Maravilla and sound healers will activate his sculptures in public sound baths, and the ICA will offer free workshops with community partners and organizations in East Boston.
(Boston, MA—May 4, 2023) The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) will open the next season of the Watershed with a monumental installation by Guadalupe Maravilla (b. 1976, El Salvador). In Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago, Maravilla expands on the Disease Thrower series with a newly commissioned sculpture: Mariposa Relámpago (Lightning Butterfly), the artist’s largest artwork to date. Once a school bus in the United States, Mariposa Relámpago had a second life as a transportation bus in El Salvador, and has now been transformed into a vibrational healing instrument by the artist. Drawing on his personal story of migration, illness, and recovery, Maravilla combines sculpture, painting, performative acts, and installation to create works grounded in activism and healing. The exhibition will also feature several additional artworks including: 8 new retablo paintings, Migratory Birds Riding the Celestial Serpent, 2021; Disease Thrower #0, #00, and #14, and a site-specific Tripa Chuca wall drawing, made in collaboration with an East Boston-based resident. On view May 25—September 4, 2023, Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago is organized by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Senior Curator, with Yutong Shi, Curatorial Assistant.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the artist will lead free Sound Baths on June 10 and August 13. The ICA is also working closely with long-time community partner East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) and members of the East Boston Community Healing Center Project on several public programs during the exhibition’s run (full schedule and details below).
“Over the past five years, the Watershed has provided unprecedented opportunities for artists to engage with issues of community concern through immersive works of art. With its focus on healing and migration, Guadalupe Maravilla’s ambitious, large-scale installation, including a transformed school bus, is uniquely suited for the Watershed,” said Jill Medvedow, the ICA’s Ellen Matilda Poss Director. “We look forward to welcoming audiences to experience the artist’s unique vision and ideas around community-based care and regeneration.”
“Maravilla’s installations are amalgamations of animals, spirits, plants, and gongs that create multi-sensory experiences and nurture collective narratives of perseverance and humanity. His work is informed by his own experience recovering from cancer as an adult—an illness he links to the trauma he experienced as an unaccompanied minor migrating from El Salvador and the stresses of being undocumented,” said Erickson.
Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago draws on Maravilla’s own migration experiences. His sculptures incorporate natural materials, handmade objects, and items collected by the artist while retracing the 3,000-mile migration route that he took as a child fleeing from El Salvador’s civil war to reunite with his parents at the age of eight. The artist explains that he began these trips “to confront trauma in order to heal it” and realized the objects he collected while traveling “were really charged and really powerful from those lands.” His finished artworks contain a cosmology of potent symbols and objects that connect the artist’s personal journey with ancient practices of the indigenous Mayan peoples; diverse spiritual and folk beliefs; and contemporary crises of disease, ecology, and war. The site-specific Tripa Chuca wall drawing is made by the artist and a local resident who shares a similar migration experience of displacement to form an index of cultural exchange. Tripa Chuca is a Salvadoran children’s drawing game in which participants draw lines that never intersect, connecting pairs of numbers to form an abstract pattern.
Sound Baths | June 10, August 13 at 12:15 PM and 3:30 PM
Maravilla incorporates sound baths into his practice, harnessing the sonic vibrations of healing instruments to create a space for meditation and restoration. Join the artist and other sound healers for an hour-long sound bath at the ICA Watershed. In this immersive, full-body experience, Maravilla will activate the congregation of sculptures including Mariposa Relámpago, which was once a school bus in the United States and had a second life as a transportation bus in El Salvador, and is now a vibrational healing instrument.
Watershed Block Parties | June 17, August 13 from 11 AM to 3 PM
The ICA Watershed’s Block Parties welcome over 900 people from the East Boston neighborhood and surrounding areas to experience art, music, food, and activities at the Watershed. This summer, the ICA is working with EBNHC and the Community Healing Project to lead drumming circles, reiki, yoga, and sound and healing activities at each block party.
Community Workshops | July 16, August 6 at 2 PM
The ICA will be holding two intimate and hands-on workshops with members of the East Boston Community Healing Center Project. In these workshops, healing practitioners will delve into their work through presentations and activities for attendees. The first workshop will be led by Arteterapia, and will focus on the health benefits of Latin American Dance; the second will be led by Nancy Slamet, from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and the EASTIE Coalition, alongside other local Qigong instructors, and will highlight the health benefits of Qigong.
Accompanying Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago will be a behind-the-scenes video with the artist discussing his process and personal history. The video is produced by Doza Visuals in conjunction with the ICA. The ICA Mobile Guide on the Bloomberg Connects app will feature the artist discussing his practice, symbolism, and personal experience in a series of audio tracks recorded in both English and Spanish.
East Boston Care Collectives
The Watershed’s Harbor Room will feature a presentation on healing practices in East Boston, titled East Boston Care Collectives, including three videos created with East Boston–based community organizations—Eastie Farm, Maverick Landing Community Services, and Veronica Robles Cultural Center—to demonstrate practices they use to promote healing. All videos are produced by Doza Visuals in conjunction with the ICA. The Harbor Room will also include a drop-in artmaking activity co-authored by the East Boston Social Center’s Director of Joy, Krina Patel.
Guadalupe Maravilla (b. 1976) received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts and his MFA from Hunter College in New York. His recent solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; and the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Olso were critically acclaimed with reviews in the New Yorker, The New York Times, Forbes, and NPR. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Olso; and Tate Modern, London, among others. He has received numerous awards and fellowships including; United States Artists Fellowship, 2023; Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award, 2022; Joan Mitchell Foundation Inaugural Fellowship, 2021; Andrew W. Mellon Foundation & Ford Foundation Latinx Artist Fellowship, 2021; Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 2019; Soros Fellowship: Art Migration and Public Space, 2019; Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, 2016; and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Award, 2003. He recently became an Art for Justice Artist Fellow, receiving the Art for Justice Grant, 2023. He has since directed this $100k grant to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where he has been providing free meals and sound baths to undocumented immigrants, cancer survivors, and asylum seekers.
About the Watershed
In 2018, the ICA opened its new ICA Watershed to the public, expanding artistic and educational programming on both sides of Boston Harbor—the Seaport and East Boston. Located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, the ICA Watershed transformed a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a cultural asset to experience large-scale-art. It has since presented one immersive exhibition each summer, until it was closed to the public in 2020 to support the city and state in their efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. During the pandemic, it was used as a food distribution site to address a direct need within the East Boston community, which experienced one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Boston. The cross-harbor connection to the Watershed was designed to deepen the vibrant intersection of contemporary art and civic life in Boston and is central to the ICA’s vision of art, civic life, and urban vitality.
About the ICA
Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of 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 ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
Support for Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago is generously provided by anonymous donors.
Additional thanks to Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago media sponsor, El Planeta.