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“i’m yours: Encounters with Art in Our Times” offers a look at the importance of artistry

A Review of the ICA Boston Exhibit ft artists such as Nan Goldin, Simone Leigh, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby


As of November, a brand new exhibit, “i’m yours: Encounters with Art in Our Times,” is currently on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston. You can check out this eye-opening collection at the Karen and Brian Conway Galleries until May 23rd (or you can view virtually here).

The beauty of “i’m yours: Encounters with Art in Our Times” is that it features not just a singular artist, but multiple artists who came together to create serenity in a time of madness amongst the world. As the pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives in immense ways, we, as art lovers and artists alike, must ask ourselves a simple question: what is the purpose of art and museums in a time of such great loss and emotional turmoil? It may be conceivable that the answer can be found in the art itself.

Crosby The Beautyful Ones Series 7

Njideka Akunyili Crosby – “The Beautyful Ones Series # 7” (2018)

Throughout the exhibit, a range of diversified mediums such as portraiture, sculpture, and painting are put under the spotlight to showcase important topics, such as social/material transformation, home and history, and capturing identity. Artists whose works are featured include Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Louise Bourgeois, Nan Goldin, and Simone Leigh, just to name a few lovely faces.

To begin, Crosby brings artwork to the table that is symbolic of her viewpoint on cultural differences in home environments. Through her pieces, Crosby — who grew up in Nigeria, and currently lives in Los Angeles — visually represents a sense of belonging and of home that I believe many people will resonate with, especially in times like these. You can view an example of this with her drawing entitled “The Beautyful Ones Series #7” (2018), which is featured in this exhibit.

The artwork of Louise Bourgeois pairs pleasantly with that of Crosby despite use of a different medium, due to Bourgeois also using her art to touch base on the themes of home and family, in addition to subjects such as sexuality and mortality. Born in Paris, Bourgeois has carried out a wildly successful career in the arts throughout her whole life. While looking at her sculpture, “Cell (Hands and Mirror)” (1995), you’re made to feel tingly with artful magic as she zeroes in on these topics.

Goldin Matt and Lewis in the tub Kissing

Nan Goldin – “Matt and Lewis in the Tub Kissing, Cambridge” (1988)

Nan Goldin is another featured artist at the exhibit, her works showcasing her talents in the world of photography. Her pieces take on subjects such as the HIV crisis, LGBT bodies, and intimate moments, all captured by her camera lens. Perhaps her most notable work featured in this exhibit is a piece entitled “Matt and Lewis in the Tub Kissing, Cambridge” — the photograph captures a tender moment of Goldin’s friends, warmly embraced in the bathtub. As this example suggests, Goldin’s artwork always features a hint of rebellion that leaves the observer craving more, though, sometimes, that very factor caused people to furrow their brows in confusion, followed by a hint of judgment, in earlier times. For example, in 1966, this specific photograph was to be presented at the International Place building as part of a benefit for Boston’s AIDS Action Committee, but the owner of the building had it removed from the series of artworks being displayed. Despite controversy, Goldin wants to share moments of intimacy and raw love, to showcase how powerful it can be, through her craft.

Leigh Cupboard IX

Simone Leigh – “Cupboard IX” (2019)

With works such as her’s considered, “i’m yours: Encounters with Art in Our Times” creates a safe space for everyone to feel accepted and understood while exploring a deeper meaning behind art.

Another featured artist is Simone Leigh, an American artist who lives in New York City, working with varying media including sculpture. Leigh is a powerful woman with immense talents; she is surely a name to remember. She uses her talent to give a voice to Black women who she feels “have been left out of the archive or left out of history.” Her iconic sculptures, such as “Cupboard IX” (2019) which is shown as part of this exhibit, display a key representation of elegance and Black excellence. As Jill Medvedow, director of the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, said of her, “There’s no better artist for our time.”

As a whole, “i’m yours: Encounters with Art in our Times” is a celebration in the name of recognizing crucial topics that need to be discussed. Through a global shift and a period where life is dramatically changing for everyone, let us all find the answers we are searching for, in art.

You can view “i’m yours: Encounters with Art in Our Times” at the ICA and online through May 23rd.

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