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Public Art on the Tufts University Medford Campus

In May of 2012 the Tufts University Art Gallery launched a pilot for an outdoor public art program. The gallery hopes to continue this series with many more modern and contemporary sculptures to be installed in highly trafficked locations on the Medford campus.

Sponsored by the Tufts University Art Gallery, generous donations from individual donors and installation support from Tufts University facilities.

Current Public Art Installations

InVisible (2015)

Tufts/SMFA student "flash collective," InVisible (2015), digital image printed on matte weather resistant poly fabric, 282" x 103"

Titled InVisible, this mural was created by a group of 12 undergraduate students from Tufts University and joint degree partner the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA). The project was initiated by the Tufts Art Gallery and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service in the aftermath of recent deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands of police and in recognition of the growing "Black Lives Matter" movement. The group was asked to create a large-scale "billboard" for a public art site outside the Mayer Campus Center on Talbot Avenue that would address how race, privilege, and power operate in the world and on campus.

The group was guided by visiting artist Avram Finkelstein, who has worked for decades to create public responses to urgent political issues. Best known for his work around the AIDS crisis with the "Silence=Death" project and the artists' collective Gran Fury, Finkelstein was tapped to lead the project as a "flash collective," a model that he has developed in recent years. The "flash collective" brings a group of people together for a short amount of time – in this case just two days – to produce an artistic intervention in public space that allows for multiple opinions and perspectives to coalesce into one message.

Students were recruited through a call for applications and represent an array of extracurricular groups and academic disciplines at Tufts and the SMFA. The group discussed a wide range of topics that they care deeply about – including racism, homophobia, sexism, and policing – on these campuses and in the wider world. They grappled with the difficulties of alliances and representation, remaining conscious of the voices that were present in and absent from the group.

The resulting project uses one contemporary and two archival photographs taken on the Tufts campus, along with four lines of evocative text, to comment on the degrees of privilege, visibility, and safety available to various groups. In evaluations after the flash collective's work was completed, students responded that the process was an invaluable learning experience. Finkelstein told the group that this public art project was meant as "the opening sentence in a conversation" about these difficult topics.

To learn more about InVisible, visit the Art Gallery's Museum Without Walls outreach program and website.

Funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Tufts University Art Gallery's Contemporary Art Circle, the School of Arts, Sciences & Engineering Diversity Fund, and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.

Download the press release >

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