Ansell’s Sculptural “Fish Out of Water” Explores Migration, Flight, and Movement Themes;
Meet the Artist at April 29 ICA Play Date

Houston-based artist and educator Bennie Flores Ansell’s interest in migration, flight, and movement makes a bold appearance at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (ICA) this spring with the Boston debut of Fish Out of Water. This interactive installation with images of flying fish celebrates the many journeys made by the people of Boston—including the 27 percent of residents who are immigrants.

With Ansell’s work as a starting point, ICA visitors will be encouraged to reflect on their own personal family journeys and, using stencils, special papers and artists’ paint markers, create their own unique airborne creatures that tell a story. After personalizing their fish, guests will be encouraged to write the country or region from where their ancestors originated, and then add them to the installation. Participants can also try mirror symmetry drawing to create a colorful piece to take home.

As more and more visitors participate and add their creations to the Fish Out of Water installation, the fish will grow in number and soar together as one body throughout the museum’s Bank of America Art Lab walls, highlighting Boston’s rich diversity. The project will be open select hours during April School Vacation Week—Tuesday, April 18 through Friday, April 21 from 11 AM – 4 PM each day, and on subsequent weekends. Please note: Young children will need adult assistance for the project. The ICA will be closed on Monday, April 17 for the Patriots’ Day holiday.

Meet the Artist at ICA Play Date, Saturday, April 29
Visitors can meet and talk with Ansell at a forthcoming ICA Play Date with the theme “Uncovering Artists’ Stories,” as well as try related artmaking investigations. Families can also see the exhibition Nari Ward: Sun Splashed (opens April 26), which includes artworks made from soda pop bottles, shoelaces, shopping carts, and a fire escape, and speaks to issues around migration, identity, and spirituality. A special concert by Boston Children’s Chorus with music and stories from around the world will also take place. For ICA Play Dates, admission is free for up to 2 adults per family when accompanied by children ages 12 and under. Youth 17 and under are always admitted free to the ICA. All ages welcome; programs best-suited for ages 6 and older. Use #ICAFishOutofWater to share photos and experiences.

Play Dates are sponsored by Vivien and Alan Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation, and Holly and David Bruce.

About the Artist
As a very young child, Ansell made a long journey from the Philippines to the United States. Her family’s personal experience traveling across vast oceans and continents encouraged her to further explore ideas of migration, flight, and movement in her later work as an artist. These ideas are important to Ansell, who believes that this early experience formed her view of herself, as well as how others regard her. Ansell’s intricate installations look like maps, topographical views, and swarms of butterflies, but upon closer inspection reveal surprising hidden imagery. The artist’s work has been exhibited at the International Center for Photography, NY; the Seattle Art Museum, WA; the San Diego Museum of Art, CA; and the Berkshire Museum, MA. Her most recent installation was exhibited at the 2016 Daegu Photo Biennale in South Korea. Read a Q+A with the artist