April 26, 2016

Traveling Fellowships: catalyst for the future

School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University
2015 Traveling Fellow Daniela Rivera (MFA ’06), Tilted Heritage.

Support for exploration and research are critical in an artist’s career. The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA) has a strong history of providing those opportunities, none more important than the SMFA Traveling Fellows program. Since 1899, this program has awarded funds to select artists for post-graduate work and travel. Over the years these awards have recognized the most innovative, ambitious work, including notable alumni Nan Goldin, Mike and Doug Starn, Ellen Gallagher, Omer Fast, Cliff Evans, and Rachel Perry Welty.

Each fall, SMFA provides 10 alumni with fellowships of 10,000 USD each to underwrite travel and study in support of their ongoing artistic investigations. The most recent fellowship class traveled to destinations in China, Trinidad, Iceland, the United States, and Europe. Of these 10, one artist is selected to hold a solo presentation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA).

On view now at the MFA through July 31, 2016 is Los Angeles-based sculptor and 2014 Fellow Sean Townley’s (BFA and Studio Diploma 2009) solo presentation, 7 Diadems/Red Ankhhafs. Townley was drawn to molds produced by conservators to aid in preserving two ancient sculptures from the MFA’s collection: the bust of Prince Ankhhaf from Egypt’s Old Kingdom and the monumental Roman Juno. He has crafted fragmentary copies of these two masterworks creating new, original works of contemporary art using technologies designed to create copies and reconstruct losses.

2015 Fellow Daniela Rivera (MFA 2006), a native of Chile, used the fellowship to revisit Chuquicamata, one of the country’s largest copper mines. There she found inspiration in the contrast between the arid desert, the clear skies and the man-made gash that is the mine. “The original idea of a ‘critical landscape project’ to link the labor of the miners to the labor of my artwork is no longer possible,” says Rivera. “Today the site as a gatherer of complex and rich relationships is my challenge and what I aim to embody in the work.”

Through potential collaboration with an astronomer, composer, and media artist, Rivera proposes to create an immersive/environmental painting installation with a possible media component in response to the architecture of the MFA gallery where she will exhibit in 2017.

Are you an SMFA alumnus/a? Learn more about the program and the online application here.


About the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Founded in 1876 and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA), is one of only two art schools in the country affiliated with a major museum—the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In partnership with Tufts, our mission is to provide an education in the fine arts—for undergraduate and graduate artists—that is interdisciplinary and self-directed. For more information about our programs and partnerships, visit

Thank you!

An email with a confirmation link has been sent to the email address you entered. To complete your subscription, click this link.