Students in the global history elective Artists’ Response to Social Change explored the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and learned about contemporary artist Nina Chanel Abney. Abney was commissioned to create a mural for the ICA, which uses colorful geometric shapes, cartoons, and words in a pop surrealist style to comment on systemic racism.
The class met with Ellen Tani, the assistant curator of the museum, who worked on commissioning this large public facing mural. Tani talked with students about the process of working with Abney and the unique challenges of designing for a large space like the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall.
The piece has many potential meanings and elements that could be deciphered different ways by different people. Abney herself says that her work is “easy to swallow and hard to digest”.
“People ask her what’s the solution to the problem and what’s the point to the art,” Tani said. “But she just wants people to be having a conversation, it could be any conversation.”