International artists respond to the migration, immigration, and displacement of peoples today, in works ranging from personal accounts to poetic meditations.

When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art considers how contemporary artists are responding to the migration, immigration, and displacement of peoples today. We are currently witnessing the highest levels of movement on record—the United Nations estimates that one out of every seven people in the world is an international or internal migrant who moves by choice or by force, with great success or great struggle. When Home Won’t Let You Stay borrows its title from a poem by Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet who gives voice to the experiences of refugees. Through artworks made since 2000 by twenty artists from more than a dozen countries — such as Colombia, Cuba, France, India, Iraq, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States — this exhibition highlights diverse artistic responses to migration ranging from personal accounts to poetic meditations, and features a range of mediums, including sculpture, installation, painting, and video. Artists in the exhibition include Kader Attia, Tania Bruguera, Isaac Julien, Hayv Kahraman, Reena Saini Kallat, Richard Mosse, Carlos Motta, Yinka Shonibare, Xaviera Simmons, and Do-Ho Suh, among others. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with an essay by Eva Respini and Ruth Erickson and texts by prominent scholars Aruna D’Souza, Okwui Enwezor, Thomas Keenan, Peggy Levitt, and Uday Singh Mehta, among others. 

Advisors + Partners

The ICA is extremely grateful to the generosity and input of the following advisors, who shared input on the exhibition and its language, programming, didactics, and outreach, over the course of several meetings:

Local organizations NuLawLab, Maverick Landing Community Services, ZUMIX, and the Golden Stairs Immigration Center in East Boston have been instrumental to Boston artist and advisory board member Anthony Romero’s community-based project …first in thought, then in action.


For further information on immigration and how you might lend or seek assistance, we refer you to local, national, and international organizations below. If you have recommendations of other organizations, please email


ACLU of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
City of Boston’s Immigrant Advancement Department (through the Mayor’s Office)
Political Asylum/Immigrant Representation (PAIR) Project
Berkshire Immigrant Center
East Boston Ecumenical Community Council
Centro Presente
International Institute of New England
The Immigrant Learning Center
Boston International Newcomers Academy (BINCA)
Re-imagining Migration
Irish International Immigrant Center
Greater Boston Legal Services
Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights Office for Refugees & Immigrants
DHS: Yearbook of Immigration Statistics
Asian American Civic Association
North American Indian Center of Boston
The Inter-University Committee on International Migration, with MIT, Boston University, Brandeis University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard University, Tufts University, and Wellesley
Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights at Boston Medical Center
De Novo Center for Justice and Healing


American Society for International Law
International Criminal Court
DePaul University International Human Rights Law
Legal Research of International Law Issues Using the Internet
University of Minnesota Human Rights Library
Immigration Lawyers on the Web
The Political Asylum/ Immigration Representation Project
American Immigration Lawyers Association

​Human Rights Advocacy, Healthcare, and Treatment

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
The Refugee Media Project
National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP)
The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)
Affordable Care Act Resources for Refugees
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
American Immigration Council
International Committee of the Red Cross
Doctors without Borders
International Organization for Migration

Northeast Activist and Community Organizations

Junta for Progressive Action 
Maine People’s Alliance 
Make the Road New York 
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrant Rights 
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC)
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)

National Organizations

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Immigration Council
International Rescue Committee
Migration Policy Institute
National Immigration Law Center 
Pew Research Center
Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)
Refugee Council USA
Refugees International
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

After its conclusion in Boston, When Home Won’t Let You Stay will travel to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis from February 23 to August 23, 2020, and to the Iris and Gerald B. Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University February 5 to May 31, 2021.