May 8–October 17, 2021

Community Arts Initiative: Patterns of Greatness

“Patterns of Greatness” is a collaborative project encouraging young people to reflect on the relationships that have had a positive impact on their lives. Beauty and meaning can be found in the patterns of life, and unprecedented times often spark ingenuity. 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.

In addition to sharing behind-the-scenes images of her own work in her studio, Thervil highlighted ways that contemporary artists like Sammy Chong, Keith Haring, Simone Leigh, Wendy Red Star, and Rob Stull create patterns in their practice, process, and finished pieces. A goal for this project was to enable young artists to translate their ideas across mediums and learn techniques that highlight the unique properties of different materials. First, they explored visual rhythms by adorning ribbons with patterns inspired by their favorite music. Next, they created collages based on their favorite season to explore the relationship of patterns to layers. Finally, they studied the patterns’ relationship to texture by sculpting trophies for people who are important to them. Thervil designed a Bauhaus-inspired mural as a backdrop for their creations, to align with the theme of uniting simple patterns to create powerful visuals.

“Patterns of Greatness” marks the 16th year of the Community Arts Initiative, through which the MFA partners with community organizations to introduce young people ages 6 to 12 to the Museum’s collection and the art-making process. For this exhibition, through the Community Arts Initiative, the Museum is proud to partner with the Berkshire Partners Blue Hill Boys & Girls Club, the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, the Edgerley Family South Boston Boys & Girls Club, the Jordan Boys & Girls Club, the Orchard Gardens Boys & Girls Club, United South End Settlements, the Vine Street Community Center, the West End House Boys & Girls Club of Allston-Brighton, and the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club of Roxbury.

  • Edward H. Linde Gallery (Gallery 168)


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