Community Arts Initiative: The Artist Project

The Artist Project is a collaboration between the MFA and twelve after-school community organizations in the Boston area. The artist and the children create a collaborative work of art inspired by the Museum’s encyclopedic collection. The completed project is exhibited in the Edward H. Linde Gallery in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art at the MFA.

Call to Artists

Learn more about the application process at Call to Artists.

Past Projects

From Farm to Craft Table

For “From Farm to Craft Table,” mixed-media artist Alexandra Adamo and children from twelve Boston-area community organizations learned about the wonders of wool. Starting their journey at Waltham Fields Community Farm, they built relationships with wool-bearing animals right outside the city. This gave them an appreciation for the sheep wool they used as they worked together to create a community “garden” of felt tendrils and roots, abstract vessels, a paint patchwork quilt, and needle felt sculptures.

Empowered Faces

“Empowered Faces” is a mixed-media mural that showcases young artists’ self-portraits through abstracted forms. Artist and educator Perla Mabel collaborated with students from the Museum’s Community Arts Initiative partners in the Boston area on the project, teaching them to celebrate cultural identity and self-discovery in their art. The final layered installation documents the students’ creative processes, using collage and sewing to express how individual experiences come together to represent a diverse, collective community.

Patterns of Greatness

In response to the pandemic, the MFA’s Community Arts Initiative launched its first socially distanced Artist Project. Over a six-month period, artist and educator Chanel Thervil met virtually with young Boston-area artists, facilitating discussions and art-making activities that focused on creating visual patterns to affirm their life experiences and capacity for greatness.

Exchange Codes

Lead Artist Sarah Pollman and our incredibly talented cohort of MFA Liaisons worked with over 150 young Boston artists to create the large-scale, wall-hung relief sculpture “Exchange Codes.” The exhibition explored the global exchange pathways of the goods, services, and ideas of artists, proposing a linked history of a material past. The young artists created the individual parts of this large-scale sculpture taking inspiration from artworks in the MFA’s collections and finding visual, cultural, and physical similarities between objects produced around different parts of the globe.

Mindful Mandalas

Young artists from the Museum’s ten Community Arts Initiative partners worked with artist Sneha Shrestha at the MFA and off-site at the community centers to create personal tondos of varying sizes. Throughout the project the children learned about positive ways to process their thoughts and find calmness in their minds while learning about ideas of inner peace through reflection, meditation, and looking closely at paintings and sculptures in the Museum's collection. In the end these personal mandalas came together in an installation of three, twelve-foot mandalas that mimicked Japanese star mandalas from the Kamakura period.

Endless Feast

Over a seven-month period, young artists from the Museum’s ten Community Arts Initiative partners visited the MFA with artist Rhonda Weppler to create a large-scale installation that explores the interconnection of food and culture. Using candy, chocolate, icing, fondant, and food-safe silicone molds, the young artists made a variety of miniature tableware and food items, finding inspiration in objects from the MFA's collection as well as in dishes enjoyed by their own culturally diverse families, such as Chinese egg tarts, Salvadorian enchiladas, and Jamaican rice and beans. Weppler then photographed this cornucopia and modified it with Photoshop, producing a large-scale photomural receding into space. As a counterpoint to the immense photomural, each child made a small sculpture of a meal that he or she had eaten the day before.

View all past projects

Artist Testimonials

“The unique collaboration is an experience made up of imagination, play, investigation, and creativity. The children ask big questions like ‘How do you know art is beautiful?’ ‘How did this stuff get here?’ Their questions and curiosity led to lively conversations and exciting visual responses. Exploring art with the children was a great opportunity to discover art making in a new way and from some wonderful new perspectives.”
—Evelyn Rydz
“‘And their Families’ was my first museum exhibition and it was an amazing learning experience. Working with curators and the design department I walked away with firsthand knowledge on what it takes to put together a Museum-worthy exhibition. Seeing the project fulfilled and over 100 boys and girls proudly viewing their artworks was an experience I will never forget.”
—Raul Gonzalez


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