At their core, creating and looking at works of art are acts of care, from the artist’s labor to the viewer’s contemplation and appreciation. Storage, conservation, and display are also ways of tending to art. This exhibition invites visitors to explore how contemporary artists trace and address concepts of care through their materials, subjects, ideas, and processes.
More than 100 works from the MFA’s collection—including recent acquisitions and objects that have never been on view before—define, depict, and demonstrate many forms of care through five thematic groupings: threads, thresholds, rest, vibrant matter, and adoration. Gisela Charfauros McDaniel’s portrait of her mother, Tiningo’ si Sirena (2021), moves between intimacy and an attentiveness to larger concepts that are meaningful to the artist, like cultural inheritances and ecological interconnectivity. For his Sound Suit (2008), Nick Cave extended the lifespan of discarded objects by transforming them into a surreal, otherworldly costume that asserts the value of Black life. The intensive time and labor that goes into creating textiles and fiber art is evident in examples by Sheila Hicks, Howardena Pindell, and Jane Sauer. Through these works and many others visitors can consider how different forms of care may inspire new models for living and feeling—now and in the future.
Please Be Seated
Throughout “Tender Loving Care,” visitors are invited to take a moment for rest and contemplation. Please Be Seated began at the MFA in 1975 and was the first museum program in the country to commission contemporary artists to make benches and chairs for visitor use that were also acquired into the Museum’s collection. These objects transcend the traditional observational relationship between works of art and their audience, instead becoming active participants in providing care for museumgoers.