James Allister Sprang: Rest Within the Wake

On view: January 12 - April 6, 2024

Reception: Friday, February 2, 5:00–8:00 pm

James Allister Sprang’s Rest Within the Wake is a multi-sensory exhibition that features textual elements, wall-based multimedia work, advanced spatial audio technologies, and an orchestral score written “60 feet beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea.” Composed while Sprang was pursuing a scuba certification off the coast of Belize, the Rest Within the Wake score and exhibition recreate the experience of a deep-water descent and its physical, metaphysical, and historical associations.

Rooted in Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake, Elizabeth Alexander’s The Black Interior, and Ross Gay’s Inciting Joy, Rest Within the Wake weaves together modalities of Black life. The exhibition is situated within Sharpe’s description of “being in the wake”—the space that continuously trails outward from the violence of the transatlantic slave trade, that alerts one to those ripple effects, that recognizes the layers of grief after death, and that, perhaps paradoxically, embraces joy. In Rest Within the Wake, Sprang invites audiences to “listen deeply while welcoming our bodies, our ancestors, our traumas, our pain, our longings, our visions, and our dreams.”

Best described as “orchestral spiritual jazz,” Rest Within the Wake is presented on the only 4DSound system in the country, an audio technology that physically locates sound within space. The choreographed score—along with Sprang’s writing and multimedia works—create connections between Diasporic timelines, the Black interior, and bodily transcendence in sensory poems. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, the ICA at MECA&D is releasing a pressed vinyl recording of Rest Within the Wake. Pre-orders can be made here and will be shipped in spring 2024.

Rest Within the Wake - Vinyl Pre-Order

Artist Talk: Monday, February 5, 12:00-1:00pm - Osher Hall @ MECA&D

Artist-led Listening Session: Friday, February 16, 1:00-2:00pm - ICA @ MECA&D

Artist-led Listening Session: Sunday, March 17, 3:00-4:00pm - ICA @ MECA&D

Film screening: This World is Not my Own, March 27, SPACE Gallery


The son of Caribbean immigrants, James Allister Sprang considers his relationship to Diasporic timelines while weaving together his multimedia work, to create sensory poems for the spirit. This work is informed by the Black interior as well as radical and experimental traditions. Sprang’s work lives in gallery spaces, theater spaces, and the space between the ears. In 2022, Sprang was awarded both the Pew Fellowship and the Knight Foundation Art + Tech Fellowship for his work with the only 4DSound system in America.

A graduate of the Cooper Union (BFA) and the University of Pennsylvania (MFA), Sprang has completed numerous residencies domestically and internationally, including the Baryshnikov Arts Center and The Kitchen in New York. Sprang has also shown and/or performed at The Brooklyn Museum, TATE Museum, PAFA Museum, The Aldrich Museum, The Kitchen, Storm King Art Center, The Public Theater, The Margulies Collection, David Nolan Gallery, The Apollo Theater, Pioneer Works, On The Boards, Northwest Film Forum, Knockdown Center and The Painted Bride Art Center. 


The musical score involved in Rest Within the Wake was commissioned by Baryshnikov Arts through its 2023 Commissioning and Producing Initiative which commissions new work, provides artists a technical residency to develop the work, and produces a series of public performances of the work.

Support for Rest Within the Wake has been provided by The YoungArts Artist Fellowship and The Kindling Fund, a grant program administered by SPACE as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation For The Visual Arts Regional Regranting Program.

Rest Within the Wake programming at the ICA at MECA&D is made possible through Maine College of Art & Design’s Visiting Artist program; a Diversity, Equity, & Belonging Mini-Grant funded by TD Foundation; and the support, guidance, and expertise of Indigo Arts Alliance. Exhibition design by Omnivore.