Aug 18–Dec 17, 2023

David Antonio Cruz: When the Children Come Home

David Antonio Cruz, nothatsummernight,theywashaway,theywashitallaway,away,theyalwaysgoaway, 2021. Courtesy of Monique Meloche Gallery.

When the Children Come Home is an artistic milestone and homecoming for painter and performance artist David Antonio Cruz (born 1974, Philadelphia, PA; lives New York, NY). Born and raised in North Philadelphia by parents who migrated from Humacao, Puerto Rico, Cruz embraces a sense of home that defies conventional definitions. For him, home can be conjured through the bonds of community and chosen family, sustained by a sense of possibility and belonging that comes from being among those you love.

Cruz’s rich multidisciplinary practice encompasses paintings, drawings, sculpture, and performance. Centering Black, brown, and queer communities, he combines personal history with art historical, literary, fashion, and pop culture references to reinterpret classical modes of figuration. Posing, in particular, is an act of resistance, play, and belonging in many of his dreamlike and stylized paintings. For example, in Puerto Rican Pieta, Cruz transposes himself and his mother into the iconic Catholic image.

Alongside the monumental portraits for which Cruz is best known, When the Children Come Home features recent work that references deeply and personally meaningful sites in Philadelphia. Drawings that camouflage the figure in intricate, ancestrally significant backgrounds represent the artist’s expanded exploration of home and its intersections with geography, diaspora, LGBTQ+ culture, and autobiography. The exhibition also includes an immersive site-specific installation as well as a performance incorporating original scores, costumes, and live music.  

When the Children Come Home is the result of Cruz’s ongoing collaboration with curator Monique Long, who also grew up in North Philadelphia. Together, Cruz and Long have created an exhibition that represents the artist’s deep commitment to community, home, and joy.

David Antonio Cruz: When the Children Come Home is curated by guest curator Monique Long and organized by Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.


Support for David Antonio Cruz: When the Children Come Home has been provided by The Inchworm Fund. Additional support has been provided by Monique Meloche Gallery, the Edna W. Andrade Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, and by Nancy & Leonard Amoroso, Beth Rudin Dewoody, Katherine Farley & Jerry Speyer, Leslie & Greg Ferrero, Cheri & Steven Friedman, Pamela & David Hornik, Marjorie & Michael Levine, B.Z. & Michael Schwartz, and Stephanie & David Simon.

Installation Views

Artist Interview

Hear artist David Antonio Cruz touch on the importance of chosen family, dressing for the moment, and creating a space of meditation at ICA within his exhibition, When the Children Come Home.


green,howiwantyougreen is an experimental operatic performance piece based on Sonnets of Dark Love, the last eleven poems by Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, which were banned for 50 years following his assassination in 1936.

Featuring four voices, a reader, and a musician, the bilingual script fuses references to popular culture, queer slang, and Latino and Black gay culture to explore love and desire in dark places.

green,howIwantyougreen is performed by David Antonio Cruz, Jennifer Jade Ledesna, Diego Carvajal Peñaranda, Lisa Strum, and musicians Daniel de Jesus and Samuel Thompson. The text is written by David Antonio Cruz with music by Daniel de Jesus.

Sat, Dec 16, 2023, 12PM–5PM
Family Photo Day
Sun, Dec 17, 2023, 12PM–5PM
Family Photo Day