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By Matthew Nash

Every two years, the Institute of Contemporary Art selects four artists to present as finalists for the James and Audrey Foster Prize. These artists exhibit their work in the galleries of the ICA, and at the end of the show one is awarded $25,000. This year, the finalists are Rania Matar, Andrew Witkin, Joe Zane and Catherine D'Ignazio.

In an arts community as close-knit as Boston, it's not surprising that the finalists are actively engaged with the city's art scene, and that their selection was cheered by their peers. The ICA's selection process ensures that the broadest possible group of artists were considered, before narrowing the selection down to the final four. The Big RED & Shiny team was even asked to provide the names of two artists we wanted the ICA to consider, and even though neither made the final four it was great to know that the ICA was seeking such diversity in their selections.

By showcasing some of the most interesting work happening in the region on such an international scale, the Foster Prize raises the visibility of all artists in Boston and gives the rest of us something to strive for. I think this is why I have heard very little jealousy among the artists I know, as they consider the current show. These are artists we see all the time, collaborate with, share jokes with, and bounce ideas off.

In 2006, one of the first exhibitions in the ICA's new waterfront building was the Foster Prize show, featuring Jane D. Marsching, Sheila Gallagher, Rachel Perry-Welty and Kelly Sherman, who ultimately won the prize. Over the course of the exhibition, Big RED & Shiny ran a series of interviews with each artist, talking about their work and the pieces on view at the ICA. Starting with this issue, we are starting a new series of interviews with the 2008 Foster Prize finalists. The first of these is Micah Malone's conversation with Andrew Witkin, and there will be more in the coming issues. Our goal is to allow the artists to discuss the work in their own words, in depth and uncensored.

If you haven't seen the exhibition yet, make your way over to the ICA to see the work of four of Boston's most promising artists. Here in Big RED & Shiny you will find them discussing their artwork and ideas, so check back every issue for more.

Oh, and feel free to use the comments below to share your thoughts about the work on view, the Prize in general, and any other ICA Foster Prize ideas you may want to discuss.

The Institute of Contemporary Art

"The 2008 James and Audrey Foster Prize" is on view November 12, 2008 - March 1, 2009 at the ICA.

All images are courtesy of the artist and the ICA's website.


About Author

Matthew Nash is the founder of Big Red & Shiny. He is Associate Professor of Photography and New Media at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and was the 2011-12 Chair of the University Faculty Assembly. Nash is half of the artist collaborative Harvey Loves Harvey, who are currently represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston and have exhibited in numerous venues since 1992.

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