Throughout April (April 13-26), the Tufts University Art Galleries celebrated the work of seventeen Tufts MFA graduates who were unable to have a formal gallery exhibit of their thesis work due to COVID-19. Diverse in form and content — including paints, 3D figures, furniture, and even used shopping carts and interactive exhibits — the resulting show, As Above, So Below, examined how structural and systematic events parallel minor day-to-day minutiae. Featured artists include Cameron Barker, Chelsey Becker, Mia Fabrizio, Billy Foshay, Elizabeth LaPides, Sally Lee, Marla McLeod, Ralph Robinson, Gil Spears, and Denise Waite.
Though adopted before the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibit’s title — borrowed from an ancient phrase implying that earthly events are reflected in the heavens and vice versa — seems particularly poignant when applied to our contemporary concerns.
For example, COVID-19 and varied governmental responses have brought to light systemic racism, the apocalyptic destruction of consumer capitalism, mental health challenges, and other crises. These are echoed in the “doomsday imagery” found in Liz LaPides’ sculpture and photography. Her work examines how humans commonly destroy the life-sustaining earth when we have the potential to create.
Another standout piece of the exhibit is Andrew Perini’s “Puckerie #51,” a clay sculpture that was created while the artist was facing a cancer diagnosis. Though he received a good prognosis in the end, he created the foreign mass as a physical manifestation of the uncertainty and anxiety that remained, despite the doctors’ positivity.
While a physical exhibit open to the public has been postponed due to COVID-19, As Above, So Below is on view virtually through June here.