New Codes: Public Art for Boston in 2019

Almost twenty years into the new millennium, it’s clear that old, staid, exclusionary ways of seeing and experiencing art are collapsing. Add to that our rising consciousness of intolerance and inequitable structures and we can’t ignore that it is time to forge new precedents for the who, what, where, and why of public art.

Now + There is responding by instigating distinctive, contemporary forms of public art that bring joy to our shared spaces and spark new ways of building togetherness. We’re committed to amplifying voices of those systemically excluded — from emerging artists to community members — and generating more inclusive, equitable art experiences. And so, we’re eager to announce our 2019 theme, New Codes, which encapsulates these values while upholding exemplary artistic production.

New Codes sets the stage for several years of N+T programming that will address equity and access and examine our broken social structures; the old codes. Through our work and the projects we bring to Boston, we will question the systems of power that drive inequity and challenge divisive precedents. We will create opportunities to reflect together on the positive changes we want to see in our city and foster conversations about how art can fuel those paradigmatic shifts.

Artists are integral to this structural recalibration. As images of division and violence permeate our news media, the artists we’re working with in 2019 resist sorrow and separation by fashioning new representations of shared happiness, resilience, and vibrancy. Co-opting familiar, accessible forms and media, these artists imagine a more harmonious world, where interdisciplinary, expansive, critical thinking is celebrated. These artists acknowledge our nation's struggle with injustice and oppression and collective uncertainty but are, nevertheless, persistently positive in their approach to conflict and its ultimate resolution. Embracing and encouraging plurality in their work, the nine artists in New Codes reaccess our current moment through artworks that incorporate the new with the old.

From a local artist returning to paint in the neighborhood that shaped him, to an internationally recognized artist who’ll lead us in amplifying joy, to a guest-curated artist reimagining a contemplative space, to the six N+T Accelerator Artists, we’re generating a new way of curating, producing and participating in public art. We’re building a public art city that looks toward a better future. We’re foregrounding artists and community, and together, with you, testing new codes.