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Cathy Wilkes in To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood

6 October 2022—26 February 2023
Group exhibition at Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, USA

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To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood surveys how artists have reflected on and contributed to notions of childhood from the early twentieth-century to the present. Bringing together an international and intergenerational group of approximately thirty artists working from the early 20th century to today, the exhibition takes as a starting point how artists have long been inspired by children—by their imagination, creativity, and unique ways of seeing and being in the world.

Artists have made artwork that depicts and involves children as collaborators, that represents or mimics their ways of drawing or telling stories, that highlights their unique cultures, and that addresses ideas of innocence and spontaneity closely associated with children. The works in To Begin Again offer distinctive viewpoints and experiences, revealing how time and place, economics and race, and representation and aesthetics fundamentally shape how we experience and understand early human development. The exhibition underscores that while there is no single, uniform idea of childhood, it is nevertheless the ground upon which so much of society is built, negotiated, and imagined.

Artists included are Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983 in Enugu, Nigeria), Jordan Casteel (b. 1989 in Denver), Henry Darger (b. 1892 in Chicago; d. 1973 in Chicago), Karon Davis (b. 1977 in Reno, NV), Mary Kelly (b. 1941 in Fort Dodge, IA), Paul Klee (b. 1879 in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland; d. 1940 in Muralto, Switzerland), Tau Lewis (b. 1993 in Toronto), Oscar Murillo (b. 1986 in Valle del Cauca, Colombia), Rivane Neuenschwander (b. 1967 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil), Faith Ringgold (b. 1930 in Harlem), Sable Elyse Smith (b. 1986 in Los Angeles), Mierle Laderman Ukeles (b. 1939 in Denver), and Cathy Wilkes (b. 1966 in Belfast, United Kingdom), among others. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue, featuring the voices and perspectives of a variety of artists, scholars, and writers.