The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston announced that its longtime chief curator Eva Respini would step down at the end of the month. To replace her, Ruth Erickson, a senior curator at the museum, will be promoted to chief curator and director of curatorial affairs, beginning June 1.
In a statement, ICA Boston director Jill Medvedow said, “As an art historian and a humanist, Ruth will lead with a keen eye, open heart, and clear vision for justice and the ways in which art, artists, and museums can make meaning, build community, and inspire hope and change.”
Respini, who added deputy director for curatorial affairs to her title last June, did not immediately announce any future plans, though a museum spokesperson said she would announce “her next chapter in the coming weeks.” Additionally, Respini will return as a guest curator to complete the ICA’s forthcoming survey on Firelei Báez, set to open next March.
Among the most closely watched curators in the country, Respini most notably was curator and co-commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale, for which Simone Leigh was selected. That presentation was tied to the ICA’s current survey for Leigh, also organized by Respini, which after a series of major career achievements for Leigh, ARTnews said, “lives up to the hype.”
Other curatorial credits by Respini at the ICA Boston include solo presentations for Deana Lawson, John Akomfrah, Huma Bhabha, Liz Deschenes, and Nalini Malani, as well as major thematic exhibitions like “Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today” in 2018 and “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art” in 2019. Prior to joining the ICA Boston in 2015, Respini was a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for a decade.
“I extend great thanks to Eva for her partnership over eight extraordinary years at the ICA,” Medvedow said in an email to ARTnews. “Through exhibitions, publications, and our permanent collection, she has advanced our knowledge of contemporary art and artists, and expanded the visibility of the ICA on a national and global stage.”
Erickson first started working at the ICA Boston over a decade ago, first as a research fellow before becoming an assistant curator in 2014. She was promoted to senior curator last July. She is currently organizing a commissioned artwork by Guadalupe Maravilla that will open at the ICA Boston’s Watershed location at the end of the month, and she curated the museum’s current solo show for María Berrío.
Among her other curatorial credits are solo presentations for Barbara Kruger, Vivian Suter, Wangechi Mutu, and Kevin Beasley, as well as two thematic exhibitions in 2022, “To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood” and “A Place for Me: Figurative Painting Now.”
“I am thrilled to expand my work at the ICA, a place I know well and love deeply,” Erickson said in a statement. “I look forward to building upon a decade of collaboration with artists and colleagues across the museum to deepen and expand our engagement with audiences, amplify the impact and visibility of our permanent collection, and advance new art and ideas through commissions and significant exhibitions.”