November 11, 2020–April 11, 2021

Community Arts Initiative: Exchange Codes

Kids collaborate to imagine pathways of an interconnected world

Over a seven-month period, young artists from the Museum’s ten Community Arts Initiative (CAI) partners in the Boston area collaborated with artist Sarah Pollman to create a large-scale, wall-hung relief sculpture that charts global exchange pathways of the goods, services, and ideas of artists, proposing a linked history of a material past.

The sculpture’s component parts, made by the young artists, are joined together to form a new whole whose shapes and underlying topography reference a map. By introducing visiting student artists to the concepts of intersectionality and inclusivity, “Exchange Codes” invites visitors to celebrate world cultures and acknowledge simultaneous differences and common threads. Pollman, whose work merges art and art history, led the children in close observation of artworks in the MFA’s collections to find visual, cultural, and physical similarities between objects produced on different parts of the globe. The students then used their understanding of how art history is a result of global trade to make the individual parts of the relief sculpture, the whole of which collapses geographic boundaries and imagines a truly interconnected world. The relief sculpture is paired with a map of the trade routes originally responsible for the global exchanges.

“Exchange Codes” marks the fifteenth year of the Community Arts Initiative, through which the Museum partners with community organizations to introduce kids ages 6 to 12 to the MFA’s collections and the art-making process. For this exhibition, through the CAI, the Museum is proud to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester; the West End House Boys and Girls Club of Allston-Brighton; United South End Settlements; Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center; Vine Street Community Center; and five Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston located in Blue Hill, Charlestown, Chelsea, Roxbury, and South Boston.

  • Edward H. Linde Gallery (Gallery 168)


The Community Arts Initiative is generously supported by the Linde Family Foundation.