"SMFA at Tufts: Juried Student Exhibition" showcases work from promising young artists

Biannual exhibition featuring SMFA at Tufts students and recent alumni represents first in new collaborative series between school and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Four printed images by artist Louis Meola are positioned in a rectangle on a wall.

BOSTON and MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (Nov. 4, 2019)—Dynamic work from four recent graduates of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts University is the focus of the new exhibition “SMFA at Tufts: Juried Student Exhibition 2019-2020,” on view from Nov. 16, 2019 to April 12, 2020 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), in the Edward H. Linde Gallery (Gallery 168).

This biannual exhibition is the first in an exciting new collaboration between the MFA and SMFA at Tufts, in which gallery space is dedicated to the work of SMFA at Tufts students or recent alumni from November through April each year. The collaboration strengthens the relationship between the museum and SMFA at Tufts, dating to the SMFA’s 1876 founding, and spotlights the work of emerging artists.

This first exhibition includes works in a variety of media by artists Perla Mabel, Timothy Manalo, Louis Meola and Katherine Wildman. It is curated by Emily Chun and Juan Omar Rodriguez, respectively a graduate student and a recent graduate alumnus of the Department of the History of Art and Architecture in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts.

The exhibition features textiles, installation, sculptures and prints by these four recent graduates of the SMFA at Tufts MFA and BFA degree programs. Rooted in their personal experiences, their projects range from Mabel’s rich textile portraits of women from her life, to Wildman’s installation of handmade objects that hint at how desire and pleasure might coexist. Manalo explores the Filipino diaspora by evoking the food and furniture of a family gathering, while Meola’s work replicates the surfaces of metal and broken Plexiglass to recall his grandfather’s workspace.

All the artists featured received their Master or Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees as members of the SMFA at Tufts Class of 2019. Their work was selected by a jury that included Chun and Rodriguez, as well as MFA staff Reto Thüring, Beal Family chair of Contemporary Art, and Dakota DeVos, curatorial research fellow.

This exhibition was organized by the Department of Contemporary Art at the MFA, with the assistance of graduate students in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Tufts. 

Perla Mabel, "Destroyed a Perfectly Good Body," painting/sculpture, 2019. (Photo credit: Jared Charney for Tufts University)Perla Mabel, "Destroyed a Perfectly Good Body," painting/sculpture, 2019. (Photo credit: Jared Charney for Tufts University)

It is supported by the Callaghan Family Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.

This close cooperation between SMFA and the MFA is one of many programs that reflect the museum’s commitment to the next generation of promising young artists and curators.

“This new form of collaboration is a reaffirmation of the special bond that has existed between the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, since the MFA opened its doors to the public 143 years ago," said Nancy Bauer, dean of SMFA at Tufts.  "We are thrilled about this 21st century enhancement of our relationship, which every year will provide our students and alumni with opportunities to exhibit their work in one of the most impressive museums in the world.”

The shows in this collaboration will alternate between displaying the work of SMFA students and recent alumni, and exhibiting the result of a selected SMFA at Tufts Traveling Fellow’s funded trip.

Established in 1899, the SMFA Traveling Fellows program awards funds to select artists for post-graduate work and travel. Ten SMFA at Tufts alumni are selected by a jury each year to receive a $10,000 grant to use for travel, research or other expenses related to their work. One of the largest endowed art school grant programs in the United States, the fellowships provide critical early-career support for SMFA at Tufts alumni.

Earlier this year, 2008 SMFA at Tufts graduate Georgie Friedman exhibited “Georgie Friedman: Fragments of Antarctica” in the MFA’s Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria. The photography, video and sculpture included in her exhibition were captured or inspired by her travels to Antarctica, funded by her 2017 SMFA Traveling Fellowship grant.

The next SMFA Traveling Fellow to display artwork at the MFA will do so in fall 2020 as part of this collaborative series.

Founded on February 4, 1870, the MFA stands on the historic homelands of the Massachusett people, a site which has long served as a place of meeting and exchange among different nations. The museum opened its doors to the public on July 4, 1876—the nation’s centennial—at its original location in Copley Square. Over the next several decades, the MFA’s collection and visitation grew exponentially, and in 1909, the museum moved to its current home on Huntington Avenue. Today, the MFA houses a global collection encompassing nearly 500,000 works of art, from ancient to contemporary, and welcomes approximately 1.2 million visitors each year to celebrate the human experience through art as well as innovative exhibitions and programs.

In 2017, Matthew Teitelbaum, the 11th director in the MFA’s history, unveiled “MFA 2020,” a three-year strategic plan that articulated a forward-looking vision for the museum to become an institution of the moment and more connected to the community. The spirit of collaboration and engagement at the core of “MFA 2020” has been brought to life over the past three years through the implementation of more than 50 initiatives, the full slate of which will be realized during the museum’s 150th anniversary year. For more information about museum hours and admission, call 617-267-9300, visit mfa.org, or follow the MFA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


SMFA at Tufts: Juried Student Exhibition 2019-2020
Edward H. Linde Gallery (Gallery 168)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston
November 16, 2019 – April 12, 2020
Hours: Saturday–Tuesday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Wednesday–Friday 10 a.m.–10 p.m.


Artist Spotlight Talks
Edward H. Linde Gallery (Gallery 168)
Wednesday, Dec. 4
6 p.m.-6:15 p.m. – Louis Meola
6:30 p.m.-6:45 p.m. – Kate Wildman
7:15 p.m.-7:30 p.m. – Perla Mabel
8 p.m.-8:15 p.m. – Tim Manalo
Curated Conversation Pt. 1
Edward H. Linde Gallery (Gallery 168)
Sunday, Feb. 2 
2 p.m.-3 p.m.
With co-curator Emily Chun, and artists Tim Manalo and Kate Wildman
Curated Conversation Pt. 2 
Edward H. Linde Gallery (Gallery 168)
Sunday, March 1
2 p.m.-3 p.m.
With co-curator Juan Omar Rodriquez, and artists Perla Mabel and Louis Meola


About the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University

Founded in 1876, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University is a unique art school affiliated with both a major art museum—the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston—and a Tier-1 research university. Originally established within the museum, the school began its relationship with Tufts when the university began providing accredited degrees to SMFA students in 1945. SMFA officially became part of Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences in July 2016. SMFA at Tufts provides an exceptional fine arts education that allows students to craft individualized programs of study while being mentored closely by world-renowned faculty and staff. Graduates are creative thinkers and problem-solvers who succeed in a wide variety of careers. SMFA at Tufts is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). For more information, visit smfa.tufts.edu/.

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