Portraits Explore Identity
Franklin W. Liu
In a duly jubilant celebration of the Tufts University Art Gallery’s reaching its 25th Anniversary of organizing seminal art exhibitions to enrich both students and the community alike, 91 artworks from 49 artists are presented; 20 art patrons generously offered a total of 40 artworks, with the remaining 51 culled directly from Tufts University’s own significant, permanent collection.
“Mortal Things — Portraits Look Back and Forth” is a diverse exhibition curated to spark dialogue on the “ego” as a mediator between the person and reality. The show bridges traditional oil portraiture to conceptual art to transgenderism and ultimately to a pentaptych of an artist’s final reflection on her own terminal illness. It is an unsparing invitation to calibrate what it means to be human, and serves as a revealing portraiture of who we are turned inside out.
The exhibit is organized and grouped around three themes: The Invisible Gaze (traditional portraiture), The Acknowledged Gaze (everyday human complexity), and The Subjective Gaze (perception of individuality).
Mounted in the Subjective Gaze section are two large-scale photographic artworks by Rachel Perry, a Boston-based conceptual artist. Her “Lost in My Life,” (fruit stickers), 2010, captures the fragmentary, transitory debris of contemporary life; in this case, fruit stickers are used in a layered montage to create a camouflage in plain sight; one sees a colorful field of patterns and textures that bury and obliterate the artist’s own presence within the image.