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  • Tschabalala Self, Racer, 2018, acrylic, watercolor, Flashe paint, crayon, colored pencil, fabric, and painted canvas on canvas, 96 × 84".

    Tschabalala Self, Racer, 2018, acrylic, watercolor, Flashe paint, crayon, colored pencil, fabric, and painted canvas on canvas, 96 × 84".

    “Tschabalala Self: Out of Body”

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
    25 Harbor Shore Drive
    January 20–July 5, 2020

    Curated by Ellen Tani

    Born and raised in Harlem, Tschabalala Self grew up with maternal figures who sewed curtains, transformed old pants into skirts, and knit oversize blankets. Thus, textile rematerialization has become Self’s signature; her appliqué technique appears frequently among the eighteen works in this exhibition, her first in Boston and largest to date. In Sapphire, 2015, a canvas painted baby blue underpins a kaleidoscopic portrait assembled from fabric, oil, and pigment of a bodacious woman in profile. In Ol’Bay, 2019, fabric, hand-colored photocopies, and acrylic coalesce to construct a nude figure perusing bodega staples. Though her titles might seem to evoke flattened representations of black people, Self uses iterative pastiche to build “avatars” that she has described as “vehicles for self-realization and my escape.” Also on view will be Self’s newest works, in which she uses milk crates and fabric to sculpturally extend possibilities for black representation, subjectivity, and imagination.