Less is Bore | ICA

During a brief visit to Boston, I found myself not only reunited with the company of old friends, but also that of a design love—maximalism. While Minimalism and all the beauty it represents speaks to my mind, I would be lying if I said a large part of my heart doesn’t melt with maximalism. A recent artist date to the show Less is Bore at The Boston ICA filled that space in my heart, in more ways than one.

Meeting up with one of a pair of women I’ve known half my life, Amber Davis Tourlentes, I was immediately in high spirits. A photographer, professor of art and true artist, her friendship is one of those special bonds where even after years apart, you can pick up right where you last left off. Our conversations about art and everything began in our early 20s and have continued practically non-stop ever since – along with the third member of our artistic triad – the photographer Andrea Burns, whom we met up with after the musuem.

As we began making our way through the wild array pieces, our observations were more than just the plays of pattern.  Throughout the show, which was a blissfully manageable size despite its theme, my friend and I snapped photos of details we loved, and shared ideas on our own visions, interspersed with personal stories. Each of us is working on new projects, combining both digital and traditional media in our own methods. Amber noted the ideas she wanted to share with her students – we even ran into her former student acting as a museum show guide – which added to the distinct vividness and relevance of the show.

Less is Bore dares to question dominance of modern day minimalism, displaying maximalist design that spans decades, cultures and mediums. It suggests that more offers a lot at times – there’s a generosity, an immersion and a fullness with this style. Chaos rules over order, color and shape over simplicity. From the pattern and decoration movement of the ’70s to the  furniture of The Memphis Group, tapestries sculptures and murals, the show had a piece of everything in practically every format.

Amber and I agreed we loved this work in particular: a mesmerizing design of insects and leaves by the artist Pae White, embroidered into reflective cloth using a programmable loom. It was eye-catching with it’s bright flashes, but even more astonishing upon closer review. The design’s technical origination confound its traditional medium, fascinating to discover.

Less is Bore was moving and inspirational, an oversized idea in a tangible experience – much like my endearing affection for my artist friends.