Davis Museum Kicks Off the Fall Season with Exhibit that Inspires Campus Collaboration

A group of people stand around a art exhibit in the Davis Museum
Photo provided by Samara Pearlstein
September 23, 2019

Wellesley’s Davis Museum opened its fall season September 13 with Home’s Horizons, a major solo exhibition by multimedia artist Fatimah Tuggar that features textiles colored with indigo plant dye, sculpture, photomontage, video, and augmented reality. This is the Nigerian-born artist’s largest solo exhibit to date and the first monographic catalogue on her work.

The exhibit created many opportunities for collaboration with members of the campus community. Maddy Allan-Rahill ’20, with advising from Jordan Tynes, director of academic fabrication and digital design, developed 3D animations that are part of the Davis-commissioned Deep Blue Wells installation in Home’s Horizons

Also in conjunction with the exhibit, the Davis co-organized a symposium with the Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative and the Newhouse Center for the Humanities that included a workshop on plant dyeing. Nicole Zhao ’20 led a walk in the College’s Botanic Gardens, where she identified plants that can be used to create natural dyes. As a Paulson Initiative intern last summer, Zhao created dyes from plants she foraged around campus and produced a booklet, A Journey of Botanical Dyes Through the Wellesley Landscape. Extracting dyes, she wrote, “is a process of letting go of preconceived notions and becoming receptive to the different ways in which nature speaks to us.”

Amanda Gilvin, the Sonja Novak Koerner ’51 Senior Curator of Collections and assistant director of curatorial affairs at the museum, called Tuggar “one of the most original, incisive conceptual artists of the digital age. She shows us how to view the things around us in new ways, and to recognize how each object—whether a hand-dyed textile or a mobile phone—connects us to other people, their work, and their stories.” 

Gilvin said the exhibit showcases Tuggar’s work while drawing on the expertise of the campus community, including faculty and staff from the Newhouse Center, the Davis summer interns, and academic disciplines including economics, Africana studies, intercultural education, philosophy, computer science, the Paulson Initiative, and Library and Technology Services. Last year, faculty and staff attended a seminar series titled “Art, Race, Gender, and Technology” that centered on Tuggar’s work.

The exhibit “engages with such a wide variety of topics that it provides a point of entry for nearly anyone on campus,” said Tynes. “The layers of collaboration are transparently displayed and can easily be identified. I especially appreciate the value and exploration of technology as a binder of these collaborative efforts.”

Tuggar praised the cross-campus collaboration. “The engagement with the faculty was a positive experience, while my work is interdisciplinary and I am comfortable with giving talks in departments outside of Art. It was refreshing and enriching to have people from multiple disciplines engaging with my work and ideas all at the same time.”

Major funding for Fatimah Tuggar: Home’s Horizons, which runs through December 15, was provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts with additional support from BrickSimple LLC and Wellesley College Friends of Art at the Davis.

Photo: Fatimah Tuggar (center) gives a tour of her exhibition Home’s Horizons to students in Professor Nikki Greene’s course, Art History 264: African Art: Powers, Passages, Performances.