Photo by Florian Holzherr
A seasonal space, the ICA Watershed is open with a new presentation every summer. It is currently closed for the 2021 season and will reopen in 2022.
For the 2021 season, the ICA Watershed presented a monumental commission by acclaimed artist Firelei Báez. In her largest installation to date, Báez reimagined the Watershed’s gallery space as the site of an ancient ruin, as though the sea had receded from the floor to reveal the archeology of human history in the Caribbean. An art project by artist Stephen Hamilton exploring traditional uses of indigo occupied the Harbor Room.
During the pandemic, the Watershed has been used as a food distribution site to address a direct need within the East Boston community. In partnership with community organizations in East Boston and the museum’s caterer, The Catered Affair, boxes of much-needed fresh produce and dairy have been delivered to East Boston families weekly since spring of 2020.
About the Watershed
Located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in East Boston, the ICA Watershed transforms a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a new civic and cultural asset. Award-winning firm Anmahian Winton Architects designed the renovation of the derelict former copper pipe facility, conserving its industrial feel while restoring the building for new use.
Each summer, the ICA invites one artist to create a site-specific work or installation. Past projects include Diana Thater, an light and moving-image installation, in 2018; John Akomfrah: Purple, an immersive, six-channel video installation, in 2019; and a monumental sculpture by Firelai Báez in 2021.
The Watershed also houses an orientation gallery introducing visitors to the historic shipyard, a waterside gathering place with stunning harbor views, and a flexible space for exhibitions, programming, and workshops. Past offerings in this space include exhibitions of photography by ICA Teens such as A Community in Focus: East Boston, as well as participatory projects such as Aquí y Allá, a series of programs and activities on food, home, and community co-hosted by artist Evelyn Rydz and Eastie Farm’s Kannan Thiruvengadam in 2019, and a project exploring the history of indigo by Stephen Hamilton in 2021.
The Watershed represents an exciting and creative mode of growth for the museum. With this project, the ICA will make a cross-harbor connection that is central to our vision of art, civic life, and urban vitality. It takes art beyond our walls, building upon a decade-long history of public art projects that bring together landscape, history, and contemporary art. The new facility is a central component of the ICA’s recently completed five-year strategic plan, A Radical Welcome, designed to deepen the vibrant intersection of contemporary art and civic life in Boston.
The ICA wishes to extend its enormous gratitude to the organizations that have partnered with us to codevelop unique art experiences that respond to community needs and interests: the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, Donald McKay K-8 School, East Boston High School, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, East Boston Social Centers, the Massachusetts Port Authority, Maverick Landing Community Services, Piers Park Sailing Center Samuel Adams Elementary School, and Zumix.
Explore East Boston arts
There’s lots of art to see in East Boston! Check out these local organizations:
Atlantic Works Gallery
Catch new exhibitions monthly at this warehouse gallery space less than a mile from the Watershed, open Friday and Saturday afternoons or for Third Thursday receptions from 6 to 9 PM.
East Boston Artists Group
Artists working in a range of media; stop by their biannual open studios near Maverick Square.
Harbor Arts + the Shipyard Gallery
The art you see around the Shipyard is the doing of the community nonprofit HarborArts.
Radio, youth programs, and free Sunday evening concerts in Piers Park.
Free admission to the ICA Watershed is made possible by the generosity of Alan and Vivien Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation.
The Boston Foundation welcomes you to the ICA Watershed.
The ICA Watershed is supported by Fund for the Arts, a public art program of the New England Foundation for the Arts and Vertex.