ICA Cancels Usual Summer Programming, Extends Community Food Distribution Through September

Since opening in July 2018,  the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Watershed on East Boston’s waterfront has hosted a resident artists and their work for the summer season.

While the ICA named artist and sculptor Firelei Baez as its resident artist for the Watershed’s 2020 season back in October those plans have been scrapped.

ICA Watershed scraps seasonal art installation in favor of continuing to be a community
food distribution site.

Instead the ICA’s Watershed will remain a food distribution site through September 3, 2020 in response to the ingoing COVID-19 pandemic. .

Jill Medvedow, the Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the Boston (ICA), made the announcement last week and said the ICA  will continue to use the Watershed as a In partnership with community organizations in Eastie.

With help from the ICA’s caterer, The Catered Affair, over 2,000 boxes of much-needed fresh produce and dairy will be delivered to East Boston families by the end of the summer.

Báez’s art installation, which was to feature the artist’s largest sculpture to date, will be postponed until 2021.

“With the cooperation of Firelei Báez, our East Boston partners, ICA staff and generous donors, we are redirecting resources of the ICA and the Watershed in particular to address a direct need within the community,” said Medvedow. “Art projects are included in each box of food to provide families with new and creative activities to do at home during this challenging time. While disappointing that we will not open the Watershed this summer as planned, this is the safest way for the museum to stay connected and serve our audiences at this time.”

According to Medvedow the food donation initiative is a collaboration between the ICA and several East Boston organizations: East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC); East Boston Social Centers; Maverick Landing Community Services; Eastie Farm; Orient Heights Housing Development; and Crossroads Family Center.

The original intent of the food distribution site, which was launched in mid-March, was to feed Eastie residents for one month.

However, because Eastie has experienced one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the city of Boston, the ICA decided to extend the program–seeing an continued urgent need for fresh food.

“The ICA was alerted to the need for fresh produce and healthy food through conversations with its community partners in East Boston,” said Medvedow. “The museum reached out to its caterer, The Catered Affair, who offered to donate their labor in creating fresh food boxes for distribution.”

As of the cancelled art installation, Medvedow said Baez’s work, which re-imagines ancient ruins as though the sea had receded from the Watershed floor to reveal the archeology of human history in the Caribbean, is planned for the 2021 season.

The Watershed opened to the public on July 4, 2018  inside a former copper pipe factory at Boston Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street The 15,000-square-foot, raw, industrial space is unlike anything in Boston and has expanded the ICA’s artistic and educational programming on both sides of the Boston Harbor.

The ICA’s Seaport location and the new Watershed in Eastie has connected the two historically isolated neighborhoods through ferry services provided by Boston Harbor Cruises.The ferry service has allowed visitors to the both the ICA and Watershed travel six minutes via water between both museums during the summer.  The ferry is free to ICA members, included with regular museum admission, and free to visitors ages 17 and under.

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