The Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design presents

Sympathy for the translator

On View: October 7 - December 10, 2022
Opening Reception: October 7, 5-8pm

Renée Green, Space Poem #7 (Color Without Objects: Intra-Active May-Words), Poly Duck, 28 banners, each 42” x 32”, 2020. Edition of 1/3 + 1 AP. Image courtesy of the artist and Bortolami Gallery, New York.

PORTLAND, ME — September 16, 2022 — The Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design (ICA at MECA&D) is delighted to announce the opening of its fall exhibition:Sympathy for the translator. An opening reception will be held on Friday, October 7 from 5-8pm.

Organized by guest curator Daisy Desrosiers, Sympathy for the translator investigates the politics of translation and how languages (embodied, spoken, signed, or forgotten) can introduce replenished spaces for new meanings. The exhibition brings together an array of practices that touch upon identity, cultural memory, and notions of intimacy, as well as issues of visibility. Through works on paper, video, sculpture, print, and installations, Sympathy for the translator further prompts us to look at the role of translation as a productive site of connections, explorations, and disruptions where new forms can appear.

“I’m so excited to present this exhibition to our audiences in Portland,” says Director of Exhibitions Julie Poitras Santos. “Sympathy for the translator invites us to think deeply about language and communication, and about how art can operate as translator and reflect our desire for shared understanding.”

The works selected for this exhibition call into question the limitations of languages as well as the inherent singularities and metaphorical poetics embedded in tongues. Navigating different postures in relationship to language construction (or de-construction), Sympathy for the translator plays on the idea of translation as a misleading yet porous and capacious practice that is reclaimed and expanded upon by artists.  

“Sympathy is here used by ways of caring: caring for the things we don’t know and seemingly can’t touch, but that still exist,” says Desrosiers. “I ask the viewers to consider the languages, histories, and oral traditions shared with them here as the site of productive new narratives and ones that convey new modes of engagement with each other. Sympathy for the translator calls into action how we carry knowledge and complicity with the languages we build between us, the ones that remain unknown or opaque, but inevitably that we carry throughout the objects we cherish, the visuals we return to and the need to assert what remains lingering and untranslatable. Sympathy requires radical care, discomfort, perspective, and humanity – just like translation it is one amongst many relations to Others.”

Artists include: Jesse Chun; Marie-Michelle Deschamps; Renée Green; Bouchra Khalili; Christine Sun Kim; Tony Lewis; Kathleen Ritter; Caroline Monnet; and Cherrie Yu.

Generous support for the exhibition is provided through the Moser Family Foundation and the Jeremy Moser and Laura Kittle Fund.

The exhibition will travel to the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College in the Spring of 2023.


  • Curator tour: Daisy Desrosiers, October 7 (5:30PM)
  • Artist Lecture: Tony Lewis, November 7 (12:00-1:00PM)

For more information about the exhibition, please visit the ICA website. 


The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), cultivates engagement and dialogue regarding contemporary visual art practices, aiming to foster discourse regarding the critical conversations of our time, and to enhance understanding of visual culture. Located in stunning galleries in Maine College of Art & Design’s landmark Porteous Building, the ICA presents an exhibition calendar of ambitious work by living artists, operates as a learning laboratory for MECA&D students, and a center for public programming regarding contemporary art that engages with the local, national and global art community.

Hosting five exhibitions each year accompanied by a dynamic series of public events and artist talks, the ICA also supports Maine College of Art & Design graduate student exhibitions and events. We are dedicated to working across platforms collaboratively and thinking with others to inspire creative action, reimagine our future, and create compassionate communities together through visual art.

Open Wednesday–Sunday, 11:00pm–5:00pm, and Thursdays until 7pm. The ICA at MECA&D is always free. - 

COVID-19 Policies: For the health and safety of our staff and visitors, we ask that all visitors to the ICA social distance and agree to wear a mask at all times while inside the ICA, regardless of vaccination status. If you are feeling unwell please stay home and plan your visit for a later date. 

Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) has been activating students of all pursuits to make art, make an impact, and inspire change since its founding as Portland School of Art in 1882. Located in Portland's thriving Arts District, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, 24-hour-a-day studios, a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a community-based Artists at Work program—making MECA&D the right-sized school in the right-sized city for every student who wants to make their mark and be seen. MECA&D offers BFA Majors and Minors, Graduate Programs, Continuing Studies, Pre-College, and includes the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the Institute for Contemporary Art. Follow us at @mecaart.

Jacqui Walpole
Director of External Relations