First Boston presentation and largest
exhibition to date of Tschabalala Self’s work

(Boston, MA – November 13, 2019) On January 20, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) opens Tschabalala Self: Out of Body, the first Boston presentation and largest exhibition to date of New Haven-based artist Tschabalala Self (b. 1990 in Harlem, NY). Self is at the forefront of a generation of young artists who are advancing new modes of figurative painting that center African American selfhood and intersectional identities. Her large-scale figurative paintings integrate hand-printed and found textiles, drawing, printmaking, sewing, and collage techniques to tell stories of black metropolitan life, the body, and humanity. Tschabalala Self: Out of Body features a selection of Self’s recent painting and sculptures—including new works made for the exhibition. On view through July 12, 2020, this exhibition is organized by Ellen Tani, former Assistant Curator at the ICA, and currently coordinated by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Curator.

Self’s work is rooted in her own experience growing up in Harlem in a female-dominated family, yet her work also traverses diverse artistic and craft traditions. Her expressive, figurative painting practice employs eclectic materials and techniques—like hand-printed and found textiles, stitching, paper, and painted fabric—in service of characters that possess an ordinary grace grounded in reality.

Tschabalala Self: Out of Body features artworks that represent singular figures, couplings, and everyday social exchanges inspired by black metropolitan life. Together, they articulate forms of embodiment and expressions of humanity through exaggerated forms and exuberant textures, pointing to the human figure’s limitless capacity to represent imagined states, memories, aspirations, and emotions. Magnificent and coded, mysterious and often humorous, Self’s characters are reflections of the artist or people she can imagine meeting in Harlem, her hometown.

About the artist

Tschabalala Self was born in Harlem, New York in 1990, and lives and works in New Haven and New York. She received her MFA in painting/printmaking from the Yale School of Art (2015), and her BA in Studio Arts from Bard College (2012). Recent solo exhibitions include the Frye Museum, Seattle (2019); the Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2018); and Parasol Unit for Contemporary Art, London (2017).

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 augmenting art’s role as educator, incubator, and convener for social engagement. Its innovative exhibitions, performances, and educational 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. Spanning two locations across Boston Harbor, the ICA offers year-round programming at its iconic building in Boston’s Seaport and seasonal programming (May-September) at the Watershed in an East Boston shipyard.

 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 Follow the ICA at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Tschabalala Self: Out of Body is presented by Max Mara. 

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This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Additional support is generously provided by Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté, Ted Pappendick and Erica Gervais Pappendick, The Coby Foundation, Ltd, and the Jennifer Epstein Fund for Women Artists.

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