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SMFA at Tufts University Presents Pulling Teeth and Jumping Rope

Pulling Teeth and Jumping Rope showcases thesis work by 27 graduates of the Masters of Fine Arts program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. On view May 6–19 at Tufts University Art Galleries, this presentation, across a rich range of mediums and materialities, demonstrates how these artists have critically expanded their individual practices in the MFA program while learning collaboratively, as evidenced in the major conceptual throughlines by which the works in this show engage and flow.  

The exhibition embraces paradox, cyclical rhythms, and durations. In the wake of various geopolitical, sociocultural, technological, and ecological collapses, the artworks here also gesture within shifting discourses about such categorical declines.

Artworks in the show expand upon ecological narratives and human-to-nonhuman worldbuilding, for example, a number of these artists animate such kinships as modes of embodied being. From anthropomorphic fungal gardens, paintings of intimate encounters with sacred mythologies, ecofeminist theology as traced through earthenwares and Jewish folk music, totemic assemblages of stone that contemplate modern ruin, and wearable sculptures that become an interspecies prosthetic. These works reflect on the relentless and symbiotic cycles of life and death.  

Queer, trans, and feminist genealogies further imbue the exhibition via the intersectional politics of identity, resilience, labor, art history, to sexual liberation. The artist projects here address a plethora of stories: from those of online sex workers, the Boston leather dyke community, the patriarchy of Greek mythology reconfigured, and the intersections of fatness and queerness.

The show culminates in reflecting upon personal memory. Formal investigations of liminal spaces, a backroom of dreams, resilience after war and a dispersed Liberian diaspora translated to charcoal, bi-racial family archives imprinted on porcelain moon vessels, and an artist’s journey with his mother’s incarceration comprise such compositions. These artistic visions intersperse the gallery, where moments of joy and healing percolate throughout.

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