Free Thursday Nights at the Institute of Contemporary Art

Photo Credit: Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Boston Seaport Website

By Emily Evangelakos
Boston University News Service

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston’s harbor-side museum, is welcoming all Boston residents with free Thursday nights until the end of 2022, giving locals a chance to see exhibits such as The Worlds We Make, Rose B. Simpson’s Legacies, To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood and others for free.

Tickets to the museum will be available online at 10 a.m. on Thursday mornings, and doors will be open between 5 and 9 p.m. Tickets will be available in time slots.

All of the exhibits are on the fourth floor of the eight-story museum. The exhibits feature paintings, sculptures, video displays, books, textiles and even a mirrored room filled with bright, tentacle-like inflatables called Love is Calling, a 2013 piece by contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama.

Photo Credit: Emily Evangelakos / BUNS

The first infinity room and the largest of all 20 in existence to be permanently held in a New England museum, Love is Calling is a must-see.

After a quick wait in line, museum-goers can enter the room for one and a half minutes. When the doors shut, the room is filled with mirrors from floor to ceiling with a recording of Kusama reciting a Japanese love poem. Sumner Warden, a student at Boston University, was captivated as soon as she entered the room. 

“I’d seen pictures of it before, but they were never able to capture how breathtaking the room was,” she said. “Each piece of the room — the mirrors, the colors, the poem — were so different yet came together in a way that was captivating.”

Love is Calling is one of a few immersive pieces. Artist Rivane Neuenschwander produced Cabra-Cega, or Blind Man’s Bluff, a four-channel animated projection that resides in the To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood exhibit. 

This exhibit not only dives into the influences that children have had on art in the past century but also the influences that childhood has had on the world’s past and how it helps dictate our future. A child’s imagination contains creativity, authenticity and a reflection of the world. The exhibit features 40 artists that specialize in painting, sculptures, installations and more. Each piece represents its own individual view of childhood and the ways in which it has inspired its art.

Photo Credit: Emily Evangelakos / BUNS

Cabra-Cega, or Blind Man’s Bluff, is an installation based on the dreams of the artist’s nephew. She used the blind drawing technique, a technique in which she drew only by looking at her nephew’s drawings rather than watching her own hand draw. The drawings represent her nephew’s nightmares and are projected on the four walls of a dark room. A chilling soundtrack plays in the background while flashes of black, white, and red showcase the images. The images contain monsters, sharks, bombs, guns, and other nightmarish scenes that a child may encounter in their dreams.

Helen Morris, 76, of Brookline, mentioned how happy the installation made her feel.

“I know that it was meant to be scary, but being in the room felt quite comforting to me,” she said. “The child-like drawings remind me of my childhood that feels so far away now.”

Morris wasn’t the only person who felt her inner child awaken while visiting this exhibit. In a reflective room that the museum created to reflect on what patrons see and learn about the backgrounds behind the art, hundreds of small pencil drawings from visitors hang on a wall.

“Childhood is …,” the prompt reads. A bin of small pencils sat on a glass table next to the wall with a pile of white note cards. 

Photo Credit: Emily Evangelakos / BUNS

Some visitors drew pictures of flowers, family, or school. Others drew random scenes with child-like stick figures and misshapen animals. Others wrote about happy memories, friends and family, and what was important to them at the time. In a contrast, there were also a few that relayed childhood trauma that they have carried with them into adulthood.

The exhibit inspired many to connect with their past and reflect on their lives now, a nostalgic, healing, and beautiful must-see open to anyone who wants to connect with their inner child and relive parts of their childhood with books such as Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and many more.

Just a ride on the public transit system from many of Boston’s universities, the Institute of Contemporary Art contains many unique, inspiring pieces that one can see on a Thursday night without spending a dollar. The museum’s exhibits should be promptly added to tourists’ and locals’ to-go lists.

All Photos Courtesy of Emily Evangelakos.

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