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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

SMFA Art Sale makes its post-pandemic return

The interior of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts is pictured on September 24, 2021.

Last weekend, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts hosted its first in-person Art Sale since the pandemic began. The annual sale, which serves as one of the primary fundraising campaigns for the SMFA, attracts visitors from the Tufts and SMFA communities and the greater Boston area. 

Nate Harrison, dean ad interim of the SMFA, said that the sale benefits the school by bolstering financial aid funding.

“The chief reason why we host the art sale is because half of the money that we collect goes directly towards student financial aid,” Harrison said. “It's a huge way for us to continue to attract and keep the students that we have and we have amazing students and it's just one way we can continue to help them.” 

The sale ran Friday through Sunday and featured over 1,000 artworks by over 250 participating artists.

Kelly Fantegrossi, director of development for the SMFA, said the art sale is an opportunity to highlight the value of visual arts, pointing to the history of the art sale. 

“This was the 44th year of the art sale. And it has had numerous incarnations over the course of that 44 years,” Fantegrossi said. “What we're interested in doing is having it be a celebration of artistry and creativity at SMFA. … Going forward, we really want to focus on SMFA faculty, former faculty, alumni and students of SMFA in particular.”

Fantegrossi shared her development team’s plans for future art sales and engagement.

“To that end, we also would like to wrap in programs either before, during or after the art sale to offer professional development for students and alumni [and] to offer emerging collectors opportunities to learn, ‘Why do you buy art? What do you look for when you're buying art?,’” she said.

Kara Howgate-Mello, manager of the art sale, said the show’s return to an in-person format made for a great atmosphere.

“I think it was wonderful to have everyone back in the space. The energy was really, really nice,” Howgate-Mello said. “I think people were very pleased to be able to have art on the walls, to be able to interact with it in the same space instead of virtually.”

The art sale offers many opportunities for alumni to engage with the SMFA and the broader community. 

“There's so many artists that live locally who really don't usually have the opportunity to showcase what they do,” Howgate-Mello said. “It's a great way to introduce the outside community to what we have created here, and then it's also a great learning opportunity for students … to be able to speak with alumni and see where professional artists end up or how hard is pushing their career.”

The art sale also included student work. Juliette Crisafi, a fourth-year SMFA student, described her photography series that was featured in this year’s sale.. 

“I made these pieces based on my own personal to-do list or general things that are a part of every day that you have to do, and thinking about making them fun, or exploding that thought a little, like exploding the task out to be a colorful, messy little encouraging reminder of your tasks that you do every day,” Crisafi said. 

Crisafi, who has had her art featured in the sale twice before, hopes to continue her series beyond her time at the SMFA. 

“This is definitely a series that I will continue for as long as I feel like making it, because it's feeding off my everyday life,” Crisafi said. “I think that it can reach a lot of people, too — everyone has to clean their bathroom [and] wake up in the morning.”

Harrison attributed the success of this year’s sale to the team that worked to put it together. 

“I'm really, really proud of the effort this year and with Kelly [Fantegrossi] and the development team because I really think they bent over backwards to try to make the art sale a success this year,” Harrison said.

Fantegrossi reflected on the success of the art sale. 

“This art sale in particular gave us the opportunity to reconnect with existing relationships, and then begin the conversation of future potential partnerships with Boston-area creative organizations, museums, galleries, other artists representing organizations to begin figuring out: How does SMFA move forward as a partner in providing a substantive narrative for this creative economy we have in the greater Boston area?”