The Tufts University Art Galleries is the university's center for visual arts where exhibitions, lectures, performances, and artist residencies converge to animate the intellectual life of the greater Tufts community and beyond.
The Tufts University Art Galleries oversee the exhibition spaces in the Shirley and Alex Aidekman Arts Center on the Medford/Somerville Campus, the galleries at the SMFA campus, and the Tufts University’s Permanent and Public Art Collection.
As the COVID-19 situation in Massachusetts develops, our number one concern at the Tufts University Art Galleries is the health and safety of our community. Following Tufts University policy, both art gallery locations in Medford/Somerville and Boston/SMFA are now closed to the public as of 5 pm this Thursday, March 12th.
For updated information as to when we may re-open, please refer to the gallery’s website and official announcements from the University. While there is no replacement for seeing artwork in person, please download our TUAG mobile app here for a virtual tour that includes images and gallery texts of our current exhibitions.
For more, up-to-date information regarding the COVID-19 response at Tufts University, please visit this webpage .
With risk of potential exposure to COVID-19 increasing, Tufts University Art Galleries, in accordance with Tufts University guidance has canceled spring programs through April 2020. We will continue to post updates on our website regarding any changes and possible rescheduled events. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, the number of cases has increased domestically, and Massachusetts has entered a state of emergency. It is imperative that we take steps as individuals and as a community to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Our best opportunity to do so is to reduce the density of our population on our campuses, thereby decreasing the risk of community spread, especially in a residential community.
For more, up-to-date information regarding the COVID-19 response at Tufts University, please visit this webpage.
Kate Costello: The Tip of the Tongue
Grossman and Anderson Galleries, SMFA Campus
January 16 — April 4, 2020
Opening Reception & Artist Talk: January 16, 6—8 pm
The Tip of the Tongue highlights Kate Costello’s (BFA ’98) ongoing interest in the shared abstraction of visual and spoken languages. If speech begins with and at the body—at the tip of the tongue—then Costello’s work lingers at this exact border, using figuration to explore the myriad ways in which communication flows and breaks down, on both the personal and societal levels. In her work, bold, simplified shapes engage with archetypes, ideas, and images that circulate through culture in narratives of gender and power. With a practice rooted in drawing and encompassing sculpture and photography, Costello orchestrates a poetic narrative that is deeply legible yet completely allusive—much like a phrase at the tip of one’s tongue.
The Tip of the Tongue features work from the past 15 years and a new, site-specific wall drawing for the SMFA at Tufts’ Anderson Gallery conceived as a companion to Costello’s Hermits’ Strand, a two-year commission for the Henricks Art Wall located in the Science and Engineering Complex in Medford. Organized by Dina Deitsch.
Each year, the Art Galleries oversee the SMFA Visiting Artist Program and invite renown artists to visit with students and present lectures that are free and open to all. We present artists in collaboration with the exhibitions program, faculty interest, and area institutions. Talks are typically held in Anderson Auditorium at SMFA at Tufts but are sometimes at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, or on the Tufts' Medford / Somerville campus.
Spring 2020 Visiting Artists Events
Kate Costello in conversation with Gloria Sutton
Thursday, January 16, 6 PM
Anderson Auditorium / SMFA at Tufts
Public Conversation with exhibiting artist Kate Costello and Gloria Sutton, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History, Northeastern University.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Wednesday, February 19, 6 PM
Anderson Auditorium / SMFA at Tufts
Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a Brooklyn-based artist and learner from East Palo Alto, California. In her work, she is interested in how proclamations of certainty, containment, and coherence assert themselves through language, institutional structures, and architecture. Rasheed makes her inquiries visible through an ecosystem of iterative and provisional projects including sprawling, Xerox-based "architecturally-scaled collages," interactive publications, large-scale text banners, digital archives, lecture-performances, library interventions, poems/poetic gestures, and other forms yet to be determined. Rasheed has exhibited at the 2017 Venice Biennale, ICA Philadelphia, Pinchuk Art Center, Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum, New Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, Bronx Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and The Kitchen, among others. She is the author of two artist books, An Alphabetical Accumulation of Approximate Observations (Endless Editions, 2019) and No New Theories (Printed Matter, 2019).
Thursday, March 26, 6 PM
SMFA Library / SMFA
Presented in conjunction with the Indigenous Art+Theory Symposium, Center for the Humanities at Tufts Tsēmā Igharas is an interdisciplinary artist and a member of the Tahltan First Nation. She uses Potlatch methodology to create compelling performance work and installations. Her practice is informed by Northwest Coast Formline Design and her studies in visual culture, as well as by time spent in the mountains. Her unique approach challenges the colonial value system and its relation to the land and, through methods of care, promotes strategies of resistance. Igharas has a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design an MFA from OCAD University. She won the 2018 Emily Award for outstanding ECUAD alumni and has shown and performed in numerous places in Canada, including the Montreal Contemporary Native Art Biennial. Internationally, she has participated in events in Chiapas, Mexico; Asheville, North Carolina; and Santiago, Chile.
Shu Lea Cheang, Nagle Artist in Residence
Thursday, April 2, 6 PM
Anderson Auditorium / SMFA
A net art pioneer, Shu Lea Cheang is an artist, filmmaker, and networker engaging with various art media and film formats including installation, performance, public art, video, feature-length film, and mobile web serial. Her project BRANDON (1998–99) was the first web art commissioned and collected by the Guggenheim Museum in New York. From homesteading cyberspace in the 1990s to her recent retreat to the BioNet zone, Cheang crafts her own science fiction genre of new queer cinema. Cheang represented Taiwan with a solo exhibition 3x3x6 at the Venice Biennale 2019. Her current projects in development UNBORN0x9 (a hacking performance) and UKI (an interruptive cinema) are funded by DICRéAM, CNC (Centre National du Cinéma) in France.
The Nagle Artist in Residence at SMFA at Tufts brings international artists into the school's graduate community for short-term residencies.
In Conversation: Julie Mehretu, 2020 SMFA Medal Artist, and Renée Green
Thursday, April 23, 7 PM
Remis Auditorium / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Join us in celebrating painter Julie Mehretu as the 2020 SMFA at Tufts Medal recipient with a public conversation with artist Renée Green.
Established in 1996 on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the SMFA at Tufts Medal has been awarded to noteworthy and influential luminaries of the art world who demonstrate creative excellence and enduring commitment to the arts. Recent recipients include Lorna Simpson (2018), James Turrell (2017), Mona Hatoum (2015), John Baldessari (2014), and Sarah Sze (2013).
For the 2020 SMFA at Tufts Medal, we are thrilled to honor Julie Mehretu, a globally recognized artist-activist whose important mid-career survey opened in 2019 at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, California and will travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 2020. In exploring palimpsests of history, from geological time to a modern day phenomenology of the social, Mehretu's works engage us in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social behavior and the psychogeography of space. Culled from archival sources-from ancient city plans, civic buildings, urban designs, public squares, tombs, palaces, ruins, etc-her paintings combine meticulous graphic drawing with spontaneous gesture. Mehretu begins with the premise of architecture as a medium of social history and power and proceeds to imagine a new present, a fictional topography realized through a formal vocabulary of line, color, gesture, markings, grids, characters, swarms, blurs, washes, which are overlaid and stratified on the surface of the canvas. Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1970 and lives and works in New York City. Mehretu’s many awards include The MacArthur Award (2005), the Berlin Prize: Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany (2007), and the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015).
Renée Green is an artist, writer, and filmmaker known for her highly layered and formally complex multimedia installations in which ideas, perception, and experience are examined from myriad perspectives. Via films, essays and writings, installations, digital media, architecture, sound-related works, film series and events her work engages with investigations into circuits of relation and exchange over time, the gaps and shifts in what survives in public and private memories as well as what has been imagined and invented. Green's exhibitions, videos and films have been seen throughout the world in museums and art institutions, among them the MAK Center for Art + Architecture at the Schindler House, West Hollywood; the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the New Museum, all in New York; and most recently at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University. Green is Professor at the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, School of Architecture & Planning.
Tufts PUBLIC is a program of yearlong, temporary public art projects designed for spaces outside the Art Galleries and throughout the school’s Medford/Somerville, SMFA and Boston Health Sciences campuses.
Jenny Polak: ICE Escape Signs
Weems Atrium, SMFA Campus
Media Wall, Aidekman Art Center, Medford/Somerville Campus
Jenny Polak makes site and community responsive art that reframes immigrant-citizen relations, amplifying demands for social justice. As an exhibiting artist in the upcoming exhibition Walls Turned Sides: Artists Confront the Justice System (coming to TUAG Spring 2020), Polak will work with the Tufts community to create a series of site-respondent signs throughout campus beginning in the fall as part of her ongoing series – ICE Escape Signs.
Artist Response is an ongoing initiative in the SMFA's Well Space and the Aidekman Arts Center’s Media Wall that puts historical and contemporary artists’ projects responding to social crises in dialogue. Utilizing a range of critical and creative strategies, these works speak to a historical continuum of how artists reflect and resist their social moments.
Andrea Fraser: Index
The Well / SMFA
January 16 — May, 2020
Encompassing performance, video, installation, text, and a range of other media, Andrea Fraser’s conceptual practice has long been associated with institutional critique. For Artist Response, Fraser’s Index (2011) and Index II (2014) focus on wealth disparity, the art market, and the concurrent rise of museums and prisons. Her work is presented in conjunction with Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System, on view in Medford.
Kimi Hanauer, Calling All Denizens
The Courtyard, SMFA Campus
Press Press, Sanctuary is on the Horizon
Remis Sculpture Court, Aidekman Art Center, Medford/Somerville Campus
Press Press (based in Baltimore, MD) aims to shift and deepen the understanding of voices, identities, and narratives that have been suppressed or misrepresented by the mainstream, so far focusing on immigration and race in the United States, and to build networks of relationships through publishing practices centered on self-representation and gathering. Press Press core organizers are Valentina Cabezas , Kimi Hanauer, Bomin Jeon, and Bilphena Yahwon.
Public conversation with curator Risa Puleo and participating artist Autumn Knight
Tisch & Koppelman Galleries, Aidekman/Medford
January 23 – April 19, 2020
Opening Reception & Artist Talk: January 23, 6—8 pm
A comprehensive look at how contemporary artists over the past forty years have created work related to the criminal justice system. Representing a range of contemporary art made in both the studio and the social realm, Walls Turned Sideways includes artworks focused on social justice issues and that position the prison and court systems as structures for dismantling through institutional critique.
Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System is organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and curated by Risa Puleo. The presentation at Tufts University Art Galleries is organized by Abigail Satinsky and presented in partnership with Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University and the Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College.
Artists include: Josh Begley, The Estate of Chris Burden, Luis Camnitzer , Jamal Cyrus, Tirtza Even, Andrea Fraser, Coco Fusco and Paula Heredia, Maria Gaspar, Danny Giles, Sam Gould, Michelle Handelman, Ashley Hunt, Richard Kamler, Kapwani Kiwanga, Autumn Knight, Suzanne Lacy with Julio Morales and Unique Holland, Deana Lawson, Shaun Leonardo, Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun, Mark Menjivar, Trevor Paglen, Anthony Papa, Mary Patten, Lucky Pierre, Jenny Polak, Carl Pope Jr. , Laurie Jo Reynolds, Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, Sherrill Roland, Sarah Ross and Damon Locks, Gregory Sale, Dread Scott, Sable Elyse Smith, The Estate of Martin Wong.
Bridges: Walls Turned Sideways Symposium
Thursday & Friday, March 5–6
Alumnae Lounge / Medford
Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System draws its title from a quote by political activist, academic, and author, Angela Davis: “Walls turned sideways are bridges.” The exhibition hopes to serve as a bridge or connecting conduit for conversation, contemplation, and change, recognizing the artist as a figure capable of changing society by bringing visibility to offenses within the justice system. This symposium, in partnership with the Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College of Civic Life (TUPIT), touches on issues of community impact, reentry, and the role of educational initiatives.
Thursday, March 5
3-5 PM: Mirror/Echo/Tilt Workshop led by Shaun Leonardo and peer facilitators
This workshop has limited capacity, see linked PDF for more information.
6 PM Keynote Talks: Laurie Jo Reynolds & Shaun Leonardo
Laurie Jo Reynolds is a policy advocate and artist who challenges the demonization, warehousing, and social exclusion of people in the criminal legal system, often long-term efforts at the margins of political viability.
Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood—namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities—along with its notions of achievement and collective identity and the experience of failure.
Friday, March 6
10 AM: Curator Tour with Risa Puleo, Walls Turned Sideways exhibition
11 AM: Support Structures for Reentry: Artist / Activist Approaches panel discussion with Hilary Binda, Jeffrey Rafael and Reentry Think Tank (Mark Strandquist, Courtney Bowles & Faith Bartley)
12:30 PM: Lunch and Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College Info session
1:30 PM: Bringing Experiences of Incarceration to the Classroom: Experiential and Experimental Education with Mary Patten, Sherrill Roland, Kimberly Dong, and Risa Puleo
This symposium is produced in collaboration with Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College of Civic Life and it is presented with support from the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University and Tufts University School of Arts & Sciences and School of Engineering Diversity Fund.
More information about the keynotes and panels:
Laurie Jo Reynolds is a policy advocate and artist who challenges the demonization, warehousing, and social exclusion of people in the criminal legal system, often long-term efforts at the margins of political viability. She was the organizer of the campaign to close Tamms Correctional Center, the notorious Illinois state supermax prison designed for sensory deprivation. She also focuses on conviction registries, housing banishment laws, and public exclusion zones, which destabilize families and lead to unemployment, incarceration, and homelessness. Reynolds is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is coordinating an alliance to support the Chicago 400 (@Chicago400). The Chicago 400 are people with past convictions that require registration who are experiencing homelessness and therefore have to re-register weekly at Chicago Police Headquarters.
Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood—namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities—along with its notions of achievement and collective identity and the experience of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly, a diversion program for court-involved youth, is participatory in nature and invested in a process of embodiment. A Brooklyn-based artist originally from Queens, Leonardo received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Creative Capital, Guggenheim Social Practice, Art for Justice, and A Blade of Grass have supported his practice, and he was recently profiled in the New York Times. His work has been featured at the Guggenheim Museum, the High Line, and Recess, with a current exhibition at the New Museum. Leonardo joined Pratt Institute as the School of Art Visiting Fellow in fall 2018.
Support Structures for Reentry: Artist / Activist Approaches: This conversation will engage support structures for those experiencing reentry, including cultural activities, education and advocacy. They believe that those directly impacted by the criminal justice system are the experts that society needs to hear from most. The Reentry Think Tank, based in Philadelphia, connects returning citizens with artists and advocates to transform the stereotypes, social services, and platforms that impact our lives and communities; Jeffrey Rafael, Justice fellow with TUPIT, which brings Tufts faculty and students together with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, corrections staff, educators, and scholars of criminal justice to facilitate creative and collaborative responses to the problems of mass incarceration; and Hilary Binda, Founding Director of the Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College, Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Senior Lecturer in Visual and Material Studies.
Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College Info session
GET INVOLVED: TUPIT Information Session for anyone considering getting involved in TUPIT or Petey Greene as a faculty member, TA, or member of the new reentry navigators organization working on a variety of initiatives.
Bringing Experiences of Incarceration to the Classroom: Experiential and Experimental Education: This conversation will focus on how to bring experiences of incarceration into the classroom in experimental forms, featuring Mary Patten, exhibiting artist and member of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, instrumental in passing the nation’s first Reparations Ordinance and included implementing a curriculum in Chicago’s middle and high schools; Sherrill Roland, exhibiting artist, who spent nearly one year in a D.C. prison for a crime he did not commit before being exonerated of all charges in 2015, returned to art school and developed The Jumpsuit Project, a performative project which encourages viewers to address their own prejudices towards those who have been incarcerated; Kimberly Dong, faculty at Tufts University School of Medicine, who’s current projects explore health disparities and causes and consequences of food insecurity in adults on probation; and Risa Puleo, curator of Walls Turned Sideways and independent curator and critic.
SMFA Library Annex, 230 The Fenway
A co-production of the Tufts University Art Galleries, Wave Farm, and the SMFA Library, the SMFA 1630 AM radio station brings traditional AM and online broadcasting capabilities to the school. Wave Farm, a pioneer of sound and transmission art, is an upstate New York-based nonprofit arts organization driven by experimentation with broadcast media.
The SMFA radio station endures as a legacy of their year-long 2018/2019 residency at Tufts University Art Galleries, and offers students, faculty, staff, and affiliated artists a venue for both conventional and experimental broadcasts. AM transmissions are hyper-local and accessible exclusively within the school. The online stream (returning in August 2019 with the start of the fall academic year) can be heard anywhere via https://wavefarm.org/listen or the Wave Farm app (available on the iTunes App Store).