Meet Jiaxuan (Terra) Wang, AG23 (MFA)

School: School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts

Degree: Master of Fine Arts

Home: My family has been shifting back and forth among countries and cities since I was a kid, and I’ve loved all the places that I lived.

Why was SMFA at Tufts the right place for you?

After undergrad, I worked for a fashion magazine for a year, and I struggled with whether I wanted to go for an MFA. I was hesitant partly because the art institute I attended as an undergrad was so conceptual; I was used to following my instincts and making my work out of my imagination and my personal experience, but I wanted to learn how to approach art from a more logical and rational point of view. Tufts surprised me, because the program is heavily research-based. That has helped me train myself to start thinking in a new way.

Another thing that I’ve loved about Tufts is how interdisciplinary the program is. I mainly do photography, but I like not being limited in the media I chose to work with. I also like getting feedback from fellow students who are not photographers—I find that inspiring.

Where did your interest in photography originate?

Relationships are the biggest thing in my art and in my life. My relationship with my father is especially important for me. For a long time, I found him difficult to approach. Then, one time, there was a new camera lying around the house. I picked it up and asked my father if I could take a picture of him. He was taking off his jacket and he stopped midway and let me take his photo. That opened something up for me—it seemed like a way to get close to him.

What’s the single most important thing you’ve learned here?

To not fear my ideas or limit my imagination or thinking. I began to see that inspiration can come from everywhere, everything I see in my life. I can always connect anything to my art practice, and because of Tufts I know that I can step out of my comfort zone, try something totally different from what I usually do. If I dare to challenge myself, then my photographs will surprise me.

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