Arts Remembrance: Art and Technology Guru George Fifield

By Mark Favermann

The new media advocate, curator, and artist mentor passed away at the age of 72.

The late George Fifield. Photo: Boston Cyberarts

George Fifield, founder of the Cyberarts Festival and Boston Cyberarts, curator, scholar, arts administrator, creative mentor, videographer, educator, and a major champion of fusing art with technology, passed away on November 11 at the age of 72 from complications that followed a devastating fall that occurred at his Martha’s Vineyard home early last summer. Fifield was a larger-than-life character, a gentle bear of a man who was kind and generous to all who encountered him. He was a Johnny Appleseed for the new millennium, sowing the seeds of the virtues, appeal, and potential of art and technology. He also was responsible for assisting hundreds of artists through his development of venues whose exhibits spotlit visually compelling and often technically provocative artwork. He was a major presence in Boston, New England, and the world’s cultural communities, and his presence and vision will be sorely missed.

Fifield was born in Wisconsin. His interest in cutting edge art was ignited by his father’s collection of Pre-Columbian art. Thus began Fifield’s lifelong fascination with history, anthropology, and popular culture. Progressively educated at an experimental college in Florida, he became fascinated with how the wonder and magic of the creative spirit could be expressed through visual beauty. His dedication to aesthetic serenity infused his personality: he was that rare individual who had no hard edges in his interactions with friends and strangers. There was a lyrical sweetness to his sensibility. To many artists, his full beard and baritone voice became signs of his artistic benevolence, his generous embrace of a vast array of creative expressions, including digital art, light art, lasers, pioneering analog technologies, video, animation, projections, virtual reality, augmented reality, sound art, biological art, and holograms. Highly knowledgeable about the intersection of art and technology, Fifield maintained a keen eye and ear for the next technical advance and its potential aesthetic application.

In a 2015 Arts Fuse interview, Fifield told Debra Cash that “animation, storytelling, dance, nature, every type of variety thrills me. The thrill is watching how artists will take the brand-new technology and make it their own, explore it, and sometimes even break it.”

For 18 years, he served as the curator of New Media (art and technology) at the de Cordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln. A prolific writer and international lecturer, he was an inspiration to emerging artists, curators, and arts administrators throughout the United States and the world. Fifield was a longtime adjunct professor at the graduate programs at Boston University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

To introduce the explosion of art and technology to a wider audience, Fifield founded Boston Cyberarts. He launched the Boston Cyberarts Festival in 1999. This biennial gathering, which was hosted across a range of indoor and outdoor venues, proved to be a culturally beneficial but complicated effort to produce. The festival included numerous discussions and exhibitions: music, dance, and theatrical performances; film and video presentations; educational programs; and lectures, demonstrations, and symposia. The festival was produced seven times until 2011. “The purpose of the festival was to make art institutions and the art-going public comfortable with new media,” he told the Arts Fuse. “By 2011, we could declare victory and go home.” “Home” became Boston Cyberarts Gallery, located above the Green Street MBTA Station in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood: it is the only gallery in the US that is located at a subway station. The goal was to support and encourage experimentation in the arts by having a space for exhibitions, events, educational programs, and collaboration with like-minded groups. Fifield used this location to successfully promote a strong sense of creative media and digital literacy — locally, regionally, and internationally.

Because of Fifield’s leadership, Boston Cyberarts consistently brought together members of the new media artistic community while at the same time outreaching to the general public. Established as well as emerging artists could count on firm support.

Over the last decade, Boston Cyberarts’ public art projects inaugurated by Fifield included the Harbor Islands Pavilion Project (with the National Park Service) plus several other temporary and permanent programs. Boston Cyberarts and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority teamed up to create Art on The Marquee, an ongoing program that commissioned public media art for display on its 80-foot-tall multiscreen LED marquee in South Boston. Dozens of media artists participated.

Recipient of several awards, including recognition as a prestigious Commonwealth Award honoree from the Mass Cultural Council, Fifield also served on several local, national, and international visual arts boards and commissions. These included many years as a member of the Boston Art Commission and, most recently, participation in culture/Now, The Museum Without Walls.

On its website, Boston Cyberarts states that the organization is about “uniting the worlds of art and technology since the last millennia.” Fifield embodied this forward-looking, purposely open spirit. In 2015 he told the Arts Fuse, “My joy is picking a concept and actually using it to learn about something I never knew about before.” He infused this groundbreaking gusto into all who worked or collaborated with him. Fifield’s creative passions, his enthusiasm and curiosity, were contagious — a source of uplift and joy to the Boston arts community and beyond.

Plans for a memorial service celebrating George Fifield’s life will be announced.

Mark Favermann is an urban designer specializing in strategic placemaking, civic branding, streetscapes, and public art. An award-winning public artist, he creates functional public art as civic design. The designer of the renovated Coolidge Corner Theatre, he is design consultant to the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative Program and, since 2002 has been a design consultant to the Boston Red Sox. Writing about urbanism, architecture, design and fine arts, Mark is contributing editor of the Arts Fuse.


  1. Chris Fitch on November 13, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    What a sad day for the arts in Boston. George created a space that will be hard to replace. He will be sorely missed.

  2. Charles Giuliano on November 13, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    A big man in every sense — George cast a broad shadow. His accomplishments were immense.

  3. gene gort on November 13, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    We miss him already. What a terrific guy.

  4. Alexandra Lee on November 13, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    Such a sad loss, an arts leader and kind man.

  5. Luke Salisbury on November 13, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    Long time friend. One of the best people I’ve ever met.

  6. Jon Goldman on November 13, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    I am crushed. George was a friend, a great sounding board, a supporter and in many ways a torch-carrier for the late Center for Advanced Visual Studies [ and of course, many others} and the artists there on the leading edge of the burgeoning new art and technology field. It was a mutual appreciation society that he created with artists and gallerists like Howard Yezerski, whom he considered a very close friend. I met him in the late eighties at a show of mine at the then Chapel Gallery in West Newton ( Now Boston Sculptors Gallery) and I would go on to be in the inaugural exhibit for the Boston CyberArts Festival, designing the large scale banner for the event. We would always have deep conversations sprinkled with deep laughs, inspiration and historical context. In role of curator/teacher/advocate/spokesman/program developer he was laser focused and a magnanimous visionary at a moment when Art and Technology was blossoming. From his wonderful art-filled victorian house in Jamaica Plain with his actress wife Lynn, he built audiences for new media in Boston, an East Coast tech cauldron rising as high technology became ubiquitous.
    He deeply inspired a new audience as a new millennial Diaghilev leaving an accessible legacy with CyberArts in all of its incarnations. His efforts on behalf of the late Aldo Tambellini, one of the earliest practioners of of video art, were remarkable. But he was equally supportive of young artists who worked in new ways and new media to blaze new paths into the zeitgeist.
    His work was truly the real meaning of the Hindu notion of avatar: “an incarnate divine teacher,”
    I was deeply honored to have known him and his work and will profoundly miss him.

  7. Trish Seeney on November 13, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    I’m so sorry to learn this very sad news. George was a kind and brilliant man. Truly a gentle giant. Sending love to Lynne and family.

  8. Rose OConnor Myer on November 13, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    So sad to learn this. I loved his dedication to the “new” arts.. Coming from a very traditional art dealing & appraising background, I learned so much about video & cyber tech break-throughs in the arts from the 1980s-on from this very knowledgeable and visionary scholar and friend. RIP

  9. Karl Baden on November 13, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    What a loss. Although I hadn’t seen him since Covid began, George was a friend and a resource since the early 1980s, when he was involved with Pull Here Press, and went through the first decade of the millenium as a curator at the Decordova. My heart goes out to Lynne and his siblings/family. He will be sorely missed.

  10. Tamiko Thiel on November 13, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    I’m heartbroken. He was a sole shining light in the dark night of the before times when no one was interested in media art. He supported my early VR work and his Boston Cyberarts Festival awarded me the IBM Innovation Award in 2009 for my Berlin Wall VR “Virtuelle Mauer/ReConstructing the Wall”. He gave our AR artists group Manifest.AR our first invitational show, at the ICA Boston in April 2011, and many more after that. I stayed with him and Lynne for a week in May, and he generously offered his backyard for a garden party and said invite anyone you want. Little did we know … Goodbye George, we will not forget you! Love, Tamiko Thiel

  11. Ginny Zanger on November 13, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    My friend and neighbor of 45 years, George was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known, and his contributions to the Massachusetts art scene over so many years have been appreciated by thousands.

  12. Will Pappenheimer on November 13, 2022 at 10:20 pm

    As is everyone here, I am shocked and saddened to hear this news! George was a forward-looking curator, a friend and a supporter of many artists work and artistic avenues. It was his support and the opportunities he created that helped move my work forward in the medium of AR which was not easy to exhibit. When he heard about the manifest.AR collective in 2011 he immediately created an extraordinary opportunity at the Boston ICA to exhibit our work. He had unhesitating eye for innovation and interesting artwork and I always was fascinated by any exhibition he put together. He will be greatly missed! I hope there will be a memorial service that we might all attend and share our memories of the gift that he was!

  13. Madeleine Altmann on November 14, 2022 at 6:04 am

    Thank you George for all you did for us artists !!

  14. Heather Kapplow on November 14, 2022 at 6:14 am

    I am so, so saddened to hear this…. George enthusiastically championed kinds of art and artists that others found too far out or not established enough to risk their funding or professional reputations on, and was always ahead of the curve when he did: many of those practices and those people are firmly established now. He encouraged and helped me personally to realize two of the most ambitious projects I’ve done in Boston–one many, many years ago and one just a few years back–and the last time I saw him (maybe 4 or 5 months ago?) he was trying to convince me that I should pick up the thread of one of those projects and go do some curatorial research for him in Finland. His gallery gave so many artists a day job that boosted them to the next level of their creative careers either within or outside of Boston, and he regularly found spaces where there wasn’t art and claimed them for artists (like the marquee in front of the Convention Center, where I hope Boston will celebrate his contributions to the city as a way of honoring him.) Most of all, he was a true character–one of those people who push a whole city’s culture forward by sheer force of will, and by just being themselves unabashedly. We have less and less of these kinds of characters in our city, so I treasure this–his singularity–even more than everything else he did. My heart goes out to his partner Lynne and to his most frequented corners of Jamaica Plain which will surely not be the same without his daily presence.

  15. pattie maes on November 14, 2022 at 7:57 am

    Thank you for writing this piece. A great loss for the arts community in Boston. We will all miss gentle, generous George…

  16. Fred Hapgood on November 14, 2022 at 10:29 am

    What a great obituary. I knew George well and it captures him perfectly.

  17. Susan Heideman/Fred Hapgood on November 14, 2022 at 10:43 am


    as friend of 45 years; we watched with wonder and delight the arc of his career
    as arts initiator extraordinaire

    Susan Heideman
    Fred Hapgood

  18. Anita Lauricella on November 14, 2022 at 11:22 am

    This is such sad news. George was an amazing person, encompassing vision, kindness, and generosity. I remember an early cyber arts meeting where he showed us a three-D printer. It was like someone opening the door to a new magical world and inviting you in with a big smile. He will be missed.

  19. Tiffany York on November 14, 2022 at 12:04 pm

    George’s passing is a great loss to the entire arts community and Boston in particular. I am thankful to have known him for so long and that I had the opportunity to collaborate with him. He was a real visionary and a innovator. Such a generous human; George had a special way of connecting people and making things happen. It was fun to watch him take delight in new ways of exploring the world through art and in supporting the many lives he touched. So warm, so kind, so creative. I am at a loss for words. George you are greatly missed.

  20. Will K. Wilkins, Real Art Ways on November 14, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    George was beautiful.

    Generous, smart and kind. Committed to artists. A humble leader. Enthusiastic, open-hearted.

    Stalwart advocate for the new.

    I’m saddened to learn of his passing.

  21. Ghana ThinkTank on November 14, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    George did so much for Ghana ThinkTank. Vital guidance, connections, support and inspiration. We love you George!

  22. James Hull on November 14, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    George was a nurturing supporter of the arts and the artists where it was needed the most – he participated in every opening reception and “Mad Dash” that ever occurred at the Gallery @ Green Street later Green Street Gallery from 1998-2006. He was game for any good idea and was the trusted institution that we handed our artist run gallery to at the Green Street T station, just down the hill from his amazing house in JP. He single-handedly ushered in an era of video and then “cyber” art with a compassion and empathy for makers of spaces and works of art in equal parts.
    He was a generous soul and a beautiful, positive person that will be greatly missed. Our hearts go out to Lynne and his family. The Boston arts community has lost a true hero.

  23. Jill Medvedow on November 14, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    I am so, so sad. We shared decades of friendship, working together and caring about our arts community. His loss is immense. Thank you for this remembrance.

  24. Bob Kephart on November 14, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    I’ve worked with George for the past 10 years with my job at the BCEC and Art on the Marquee. I have also been worked with him in my professional art practice. He had such a huge impact on so many people’s lives and careers. A titan of the Boston art community! Best wishes to his family in these tough times.

  25. Mark Stock on November 15, 2022 at 9:41 am

    What memorial is big enough to encompass all that George has done for the community of new media artists? We owe a debt to him for his tireless efforts to push and promote the use of digital technologies in art, and my own work benefited from his guidance and support. We will miss you, George.

  26. Nina Berger on November 15, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    Such sad news! I was lucky to work with George for many years promoting the Boston Cyberarts Festival & Gallery, Art on the Marque, Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion, NPS collaborations, and many other projects. He was such a galvanizing force in the Boston art & technology worlds; connecting and supporting so many people over his career; a true champion of new media art. His enthusiasm for art, technology, life, people, and new ideas was infectious. A generous, kind, yet indomitable spirit, he will long be sorely missed.

  27. Dan Roe on November 16, 2022 at 7:49 am

    Thank you George. You will be missed.

  28. Tim Ney on November 16, 2022 at 8:12 am

    George was not one to be forgotten. A true American pioneer who leaves an indelible mark on the cultural life of Boston and the practice of new media.

    George was that rare individual who inspired, taught and mentored others with his soul of an artist, mind of a visionary, caring of a curator, and the consistency of an administrator.

    He was, indeed, a true hero of the Boston arts world. Condolences to his family.

  29. Mary Sherman on November 16, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    What a sad day it was when I heard of George’s passing. What a loss to us all.

  30. Deborah Cornell on November 16, 2022 at 11:30 pm

    Shocking, and so, so sad. Thank you George for everything you gave us!

  31. Darius Kazemi on November 17, 2022 at 10:58 am

    An enormous loss for the world. George supported me early in my career in a way that I thought was simply not possible from an arts organization. A lovely man. I’ll never forget visiting his home and being blown away by his hospitality and intellectual curiosity.

  32. Carole Anne Meehan on November 17, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    Everyone has said it already and in myriad eloquent ways. George was a treasure we all shared. Did he ever pass a day with less than 1,000 per cent enthusiasm for just about everything? I think not.

  33. Frank Floyd on November 20, 2022 at 7:45 am

    A generous giant, and geniusly insightful man. Great is our loss, but even greater his legacy.

  34. A. Metral on November 21, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    Such a kind and encouraging human! Especially noted in my post natal months, I so appreciated having invitations- to be present at the table. Thank you George, sorry we didn’t have you longer.
    Watching this with family today, a little art history memoriam. 2000’s The Electronic Canvas

  35. Matt Brand on November 21, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    Always enjoyed a conversation with George. The Boston arts scene is poorer for his passing.

  36. Betsy Connors on November 22, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    Condolences to your family and friends.
    Thank you George for your insight, support, kindness, and commitment to the “newer arts” to electrons and photons. You will be greatly missed

  37. Jo-Ann Castano on November 25, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    To the man who walked and crossed the paths of so many artists and those just fascinated with the new world of technology, media and the arts, a high salute to up up and away. George presented a combination of programs, ideas and opportunities that sent us all into a cyberorbits spin. He opened the public’s eyes, supported those in pursuit of the untapped exploration of what could be, digitally, in light. land and sky, he saw to it all. CyberArts was a dream for many and offered communities and artists who dared to tap into his showcase a new opportunity. He created a landscape for the future to reach a little deeper into whatever dimension they could reach.

    Thank you George and condolences to your family friends and cyberspace world.

  38. Mary Lou Belli on November 27, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    I will remember him as generous, engaging, and kind.

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