The New ICA San Francisco Opens Its Doors With an Artist-Curated Show About Black Women and Freedom
California artists Tahirah Rasheed and Autumn Breon are celebrating Black beauty and relaxation.
The Bay Area’s newest institution, the ICA San Francisco, celebrated the final phase of its opening last night, unveiling its biggest gallery space with a compelling group show on the importance of celebrating Black beauty, rest, and self expression, curated by California artists Tahirah Rasheed and Autumn Breon.
Titled “Resting Our Eyes,” the exhibition features works from both big names and rising stars, with impressive loans by the likes of Carrie Mae Weems, Derrick Adams, Sadie Barnette, Genevieve Gaignard, and Simone Leigh.
Breon, who lives in Los Angeles, and Rasheed, who is from Oakland, met through the For Freedoms artist collective. (Group cofounder Hank Willis Thomas is among the artists featured in the show, along with his mother, photographer Deborah Willis.)
“So many people within the network just kept on assuming that we knew each other,” Breon told Artnet News at the exhibition’s opening reception. When they were finally introduced, the connection was instant.
The two have spent the past year curating “Resting Our Eyes,” which offers a taste of founding ICA director Alison Gass’s socially minded vision for the institution, which looks to focus on under-represented voices in the art world.
The show’s theme was inspired by the Combahee River Collective, a group of Black feminists who began meeting in 1974.
“Basically the idea is that if and when black women are free, everyone else in the world will inevitably be free, because the systems that oppress black women would have to be dismantled and everyone else would benefit from it,” Breon said.
“When T and I started thinking about the mechanisms for freedom, we kept going back to leisure and adornment,” she added. “We were looking for the artwork that tells the story how we adorn ourselves and how we prioritize rest, because we see both of those as really necessary acts.”
See some of the works from the show below.
“Resting Our Eyes” is on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco, 901 Minnesota Street, San Francisco, January 21–June 25, 2023.
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