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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.

Upcoming Exhibitions and Events at SMFA

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

Kate Costello. Writer / Writer, 2005/15. Plaster. Photo by Brica Wilcox. Courtesy of the artist.

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.

Visiting Artist Program

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).

Tsēmā Igharas
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.

Julie Mehretu, 2020 SMFA Medal Artist
Thursday, April 23, 6 PM
Anderson Auditorium / SMFA

MacArthur award–winning painter Julie Mehretu will be the recipient of this year’s SMFA at Tufts Medal. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1970, Mehretu is a world-renowned painter who lives and works in New York and Berlin. She received an MFA with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu’s many awards include 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). Her solo exhibition Julie Mehretu, a midcareer survey at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2019), will travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2020); the High Museum, Atlanta (2020); and the Walker Museum of Art, Minneapolis (2021).

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).

Exhibitions Across Campuses


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

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.

Upcoming Exhibitions and Events in Medford/Somerville

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

Tirtza Even. Natural Life, 2014-15. Still from video installation. Courtesy the artist.

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

Thursday, March 5
Mirror/Echo/Tilt Workshop Space is limited, RSVP will be required, 3-5 PM
Keynotes: Laurie Jo Reynolds & Shaun Leonardo, 6 PM

Friday, March 6 
Curator Tour with Risa Puleo, 10 AM
Roundtable Discussions, 1-4 PM

Walls Turned Sideways 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, touches on issues of community impact, reentry, and the role of educational initiatives. The program will include a workshop with Shaun Leonardo and Mirror/Echo/Tilt, and participating artists from Walls Turned Sideways will be in dialogue with scholars, advocates, and activists including Hilary Binda, Kimberly Dong, Shaun Leonardo, Mary Patten, Risa Puleo, Reentry Think Tank, Laurie Jo Reynolds, Sherrill Roland, and more. 

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.

SMFA Radio Station: SMFA 1630AM

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 or the Wave Farm app (available on the iTunes App Store).