Nari Ward’s Divination X to Grace Gardner Museum Façade

The former artist-in-residence returns with a new public art installation inspired by X-rays and fortune telling.

nari ward divination x gardner museum

Divination X by Nari Ward. / Image Provided

For several years now, the Gardner Museum’s Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade has been treated as a focal point of the institution’s dedication to public art.

To date, four unique works have graced the side of the building, furthering the museum’s reputation as one of Boston’s hidden gems. For the second half of 2014, it was Luisa Rabbia’s cascading purple Waterfall that greeted passersby. The other previous installations were Hamra Abbas’s Wall Hanging 1, Adam Pendleton’s Untitled, and Stefano Arienti’s Ailanthus & Wild Carrot.

Starting Tuesday, Nari Ward’s Divination X will be the fifth public art installation to appear on the Gardner façade. The black-and-white work inspired by X-rays and fortune telling will remain on view for six months.

Ward, a Jamaican-born artist known for weaving personal narratives with cultural and historic associations, is no stranger to the Gardner. He was an artist-in-residence at the museum in 2002 and created the exhibition, Episodes: Bus Park & Forevermore, which took visitors on a metaphorical behind-the-scenes tour of the museum’s collection.

Divination X is the same large vertical canvas size as the previous works that have been shown on the façade, and like its predecessors, the artwork is alluring and compelling, while also settling seamlessly into the exterior space at the Gardner. The work depicts an X-ray-like image of a cowrie shell reading, addressing a question perfect for the new year: “What does the future hold?”

Feel free to stop by on your next walk through the Fens and ruminate on that.


Divination X will be on view Tuesday, January 6, through June 29, 2015, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston,