SMFA at Tufts Announces Traveling Fellows for 2023

The five artists are headed to Spain, Brazil, Japan, and destinations across the U.S.

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University has announced its 2023 class of SMFA at Tufts Traveling Fellows. The five artists will journey to places around the world to conduct research and find inspiration for their art.

Since 1899, the SMFA Traveling Fellowships program, one of the largest endowed art school grant programs in the United States, has provided critical early-career support for SMFA at Tufts alumni. Selected by a jury, SMFA Traveling Fellowship recipients receive up to $10,000 to explore locales and visit communities that will inform current or future art endeavors. This year’s fellows plan to travel to California, Idaho, Louisiana, Spain, Brazil, and Japan.

Here are the fellows and their destinations:

a woman in a hard hat stands near power lines with her arms raised

Thalia Berard, “Powerlines,” 2021

Thalia Berard, AG19 (MFA), will visit the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in San Clemente, California; the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo/Avila Beach, California; and the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls to tour, sketch, and engage the sites through performances that explore the generation and transmission of renewable energy in the United States.


a painting of words by Paulo Freire

Julia Csekö, "Speaking Truth to Power series—words by Paulo Freire, from Pedagogy of the
Oppressed," 2022

Julia Csekö, AG13 (MFA), will travel to Rio, Brazil, engaging with sites of personal, cultural, and historical relevance to her multidisciplinary practice, ranging from the Federal University of Rio to the warehouses of the Carnaval industry, The Museum of the Republic, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Sugar Loaf, and a downtown police station. She will gather photographic, video, and written documentation examining a returning versus touristic gaze.

a wolf made of stacks of paper

Robert Hernandez, “Big Bad,” 2015

Robert Hernandez, AG09 (MFA), proposes a trip to Echizen Washi Village, located in Fukui Prefecture, Japan, which produced paper for Rembrandt’s etchings as well as Ukiyo-E printmakers during the Edo period. Hernandez will explore the history and intricacies of traditional and modern papermaking to create three dimensional drawings that question modern desensitization.


an oyster-shaped sculpture made of colored glass

Michael Potecha, “European Flat Oyster,” 2023

Michael Potecha, A10 (BFA), plans to engage the gulf coasts of New Orleans, Louisiana that have been impacted by oil spills in 1979, 2004, 2010, and 2021. Potecha aims to meet with non-profits, farmers, fisherman, and naturalists to study local clean-up and rebirth efforts and document such initiatives through drawing, watercolor, and glass sculpture techniques.


a painted design on dark fabric

Gessica Silverman, “3,” 2021

Gessica Silverman (Post-bacc, 2010) will travel to southern Spain—Granada, Seville, and Cordoba—to tour sites such as the Alcazar Palace, Casa de Pilatos, and Alhambra, which offer examples of cross-cultural patterning that inform her paintings. Silverman aims to observe how Muslims, Jews, and Christians used non-figural and figural imagery to express their co-existing beliefs through architecture, sculpture, textiles, painting, and ceramics.

The jurors for the 125th incarnation of the Traveling Fellows competition were Juliana Barton, director of the Center for the Arts and curator of Gallery360 at Northeastern University; Tess Lukey, associate curator of Native American art for the Trustees of Reservations; and Helina Metaferia, interdisciplinary artist, assistant professor at Brown University in the Department of Visual Art, and 2018 recipient of the Traveling Fellowship.

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