For its first 37 years, the annual SMFA Art Sale – a major fundraiser for student financial aid – featured a visit to 230 The Fenway, where several thousand works of art were displayed. exposed, awaiting new homes.
But this year, with the pandemic, the sale is going global. No longer limited to nearby buyers, the event is online and open to art collectors worldwide.
The art sale, which runs from November 9-23, is a juried exhibition this year, ensuring that the highest quality works are on offer. Pieces from over 300 SMFA teachers, alumni, students and friends will be included. And the online format allows all SMFA artists to submit their work for consideration, even those whose studios are far from Boston.
The jurors for the exhibition were Akili Tommasino, associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; SMFA alumnus Shinique Smith, a Los Angeles-based multimedia artist whose works have been exhibited in museums across the country; and Nina Johnson, director of the Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami.
“When I was asked to be a juror, I felt honored as an artist and an alumnus to participate,” Smith said. “There were many submissions and a variety of amazing artwork, so it was hard to narrow down the works to appear in the show, but inspiring to see so many worthy contributions.”
The more than 600 works chosen come from artists who range “from new talent to seasoned professionals,” Smith said. Among the recognized artists represented are Rachel Perry, Daniel Rich and Lalla Essaydi.
The exhibit also highlights the work of those who have traditionally been underrepresented in the art world, organizers said, emphasizing art from Black, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+ and feminist communities. Among the artists included in the sale are SMFA alumni Marlon Forrestor, Anthony Peyton Young, Helina Metaferia, Jamal Thorne, Cobi Moules, Gonzalo Fuenmayor and Mima McMillan.
“I am grateful to all the artists for submitting their work and wish them all good luck and inspiration in their artistic journeys,” said Smith.
Proceeds from the sale “go to ensure that no student who belongs to the SMFA will be turned away because they cannot afford to join us,” said SMFA Dean Nancy Bauer. “Every penny we raise will allow us to continue to meet all of the demonstrated financial needs of all of our students. This is all the more important as the pandemic has dramatically increased the financial needs of students.
Artists also benefit, receiving a percentage of the sale. This is particularly important for those new to the art market. Exposing artists to new audiences through sales also helps, Smith said.
The sale will include up to nine complete pieces of the SMFA Exquisite Corpse project. Inspired by the link between COVID-19 and the 1918 flu pandemic, Exquisite Corpse uses a drawing technique developed by the Surrealists in which multiple artists co-create art by drawing together on a single sheet of paper.
The project was developed by Jen Mergel, Contemporary Curator and SMFA Board Member at Tufts, who sees it as an opportunity to create meaningful connections between creative minds during a time of social distancing. Participant Exquisite Corpse performers include SMFA at Tufts faculty members Ethan Murrow, Ria Brodell and David Antonio Cruz, and alumni Sheila Pepe, Jedediah Caesar and Nicole Cherubini.
For more information about the SMFA at Tufts Art Sale, which runs November 9-23, including viewing works for sale and how to register, go to http://smfa.bidsquare.com/.
Taylor McNeil can be reached at [email protected].