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Online OnlyApr 27, 2021

Arts to the Front for Boston Design Week

Ten arts and culture events to spark your curiosity at the 2021 Boston Design Week which runs April 28 – May 9, 2021.

Feature by BAR Editorial

Figures are building boldly colored flower benches in a workshop space.

3D Design Builds Flower Benches for Federal Realty, 2019. Image Courtesy Artists for Humanity.

For the first time, Boston Art Review is pleased to participate in Boston Design Week (BDW). Returning for its eighth year, the twelve-day festival is focused on celebrating design across a wide array of disciplines. This year’s festival features over fifty events ranging from virtual talks with leading Boston-based artists, architects, and civic planners to self-guided walking tours and previews of upcoming major projects by local organizations. 

Boston Art Review will be presenting a panel in partnership with our friends at Now + There to convene a conversation on the Future of Public Art in Boston. This panel will overview current trends and topics in the field, with a special focus on public art’s role in creating a more culturally equitable Boston. Leah Triplett Harrington and Jameson Johnson will join in conversation with four brilliant artists and community leaders: Kathleen Bitetti, Kai Grant, Stephen Hamilton, and Kim Szeto.

Visual art and artists are taking center stage at BDW, as this year’s theme is centered on the COVID-appropriate topic of outdoor spaces. With such a busy calendar of events, we’ve narrowed down a selection of ten free programs that may spark your curiosity.



Making Space: Giving Voice by Design

Presented by Artists For Humanity, Apr 28, 5:00 PM

In this discussion with the next generation of designers, teens from AFH’s 3D Design and Graphic Studios will join in conversation with Google real estate executive Marcella Barrière. Their dialogue will explore how to create work that resonates with the future generation of users with a special focus on accessibility and community impact.

Sol LeWitt, Bars of Color within Squares (MIT), 2007 © 2021 The LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center.

MIT Campus Art and Landscape Tour

Presented by MIT List Visual Arts Center, April 29, 5:00 PM, and May 6, 3:00 PM

While MIT’s campus remains closed to the public, this virtual tour provides an opportunity to learn more about the art and architecture that punctuates MIT’s vast campus. Participants will hear from the List Center’s public program manager along with an MIT student guide in this deep dive into the collection. Learn about artists including Olafur Eliasson, Alexander Calder, Alicja Kwade, Mark di Suvero, and more!


Discovering Artists: How Insiders Assess Quality

Presented by Peter Hastings Falk and Robert Berry Gallery, April 30, 12:00 PM

Members from the curatorial board of Discoveries in American Art, an art publication dedicated to (re)discovering and preserving artist legacies, will discuss six artists who have slipped through the cracks of the art historical canon. These artists include Harry Bertschmann, Joachim Probst, David Kastner, Judy Rifka, Linus Coraggio, and Robert C. Morgan. Additionally, the curators will discuss how they define and assess the “quality” of fine art and how this relates to value proposition.


Art New England: In Conversation with BIPOC Artists on Creating Change

Presented by Art New England, May 2, 3:00 PM

This panel, moderated by writer Jennifer Mancuso and art director Lori Pedrick, celebrates four New England artists: BAR Issue 06 featured artist Destiny Palmer, Art New England cover artists Sharif Muhammad and Ryan Adams, and emerging artist Asata Radcliffe. The group will discuss celebrating Black joy, reclaiming lost art forms, and continuing the legacy of Black artists.

Image Courtesy of Beyond Walls. 

A Cultural Shift for Public Space

Presented by Beyond Walls, May 3, 4:00 PM

Last spring, Beyond Walls pivoted from their anticipated programming to respond to their community’s urgent pandemic-related needs. The Lynn-based nonprofit partnered with Payette and Bench Consulting to create freestanding hand washing stations and easy-to-install barrier systems to facilitate outdoor dining. In this panel, leaders from these organizations discuss how we can reclaim public outdoor spaces and effectively serve our communities during stay-at-home orders.


Partnerships and Placemaking in the Time of COVID

Presented by the Esplanade Association, May 5, 6:30 PM

The panel will discuss the people, partnerships, and processes that helped create Hatched: Breaking Through the Silence, a 30-night multisensory illumination experience located on the Charles River Esplanade. Learn about the installation’s groundbreaking technology and the women-led team who brought it to life.


Building Equitable and Inclusive Places

Presented by Congress for the New Urbanism, New England, May 5, 12:00 PM

Representatives from CNU New England’s 2020 Urbanist Award-winning firms (Union Studio, Utile Inc, Goody Clancy, Lifecare Design Inc., and Principle Group) will come together to discuss their approaches in citizen-based participatory planning and design. This year’s awards were judged on “their ability to create places that are inclusive, inviting and equitable for the diverse populations of our region.” The discussion will be moderated by Francis Goyes Flor of MassHousing.


Play + Health in Design: Lucid Thinking to Facilitate Wellbeing

Presented by Boston Architectural College, May 6, 12:00 PM

J. Davis Harte, PhD, director of the Design for Human Health MDS program at Boston Architectural College, will lead this “playful lecture” illuminating connections between design, wellbeing, and play. Boston Architectural College student work will showcase opportunities for incorporating meaningful play into design visions and projects.

MassArt Master of Innovation (MDes) Bootcamp, 2019. Photo by Divya Mangadu ’20 MDes. Image Courtesy of MassArt Master of Innovation.

The Future of Social Media

Presented by the MassArt Master of Design Innovation (MDes) program, May 7, 6:30 PM

“What is the future of social media?” was this year’s central question guiding the annual Design Bootcamp for MassArt Master of Design Innovation’s graduate students. On Friday evening, students will join industry leaders to discuss their examination of the question, what they learned in the process, and where social media practices are headed.


Designing the Boston People Will Love in 2121

Presented by Kyle Hoepner, May 7, 4:00 PM

Urban planners, scholars, architects, and thought leaders will convene to unpack the long-term effects of recent urban development initiatives across Boston’s landscape. Panelists will be guided by the question “Are we really making the places, neighborhoods, and amenities that will keep Boston vibrant for the next century?”


Boston Design Week is presented by Fusco & Four/Ventures, LLC and runs from April 28 – May 9, 2021 across several virtual and remote locations. Boston Art Review is a participating media sponsor. A full calendar of events can be found here

BAR Editorial


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