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Envisioning Democracy

About the Exhibition


Jul 30 – Dec 8


Aidekman Arts Center, 40 Talbot Avenue, Medford

During presidential election years, like 2024, the promise of democracy springs anew in the consciousness of Americans. Elections are a catalyst for debating the priorities of the country, and a time of great national conviction when we are called to voice, through our vote, how we wish to be represented. Stretching back to the founding of the United States of America, democracy has been a concept fraught with feeling and poignancy—invoked as ideology, weapon, point of pride, national institution, and identity.

Throughout our nation’s history, artists have grappled with, and continue to interpret, what democracy and being American means to them.  While many of the works in this exhibition are documentary photography—bearing witness to communal gatherings, protests, and voting as democratic acts in and of themselves—others are deeply personal depictions of national heritage and symbols in the more intimate mediums of drawing and painting. Each medium unfolds a share of the multifaceted, personal, and contentious nature of democracy in this country.

Envisioning Democracy features works from the Tufts University Collection including Larry Fink, Lee Friedlander, Ray Hamilton, Joel Meyerowitz, Mary Tillman Smith,  Jimmy Lee Sudduth, and other artists who have challenged, and attempted to depict, their unique conceptions of democracy. Alongside Across the Universe, Tomashi Jackson’s research-driven exhibition on governance and U.S. history, this collection presentation additionally explores the breadth of democratic identity, values, and citizen participation through the personal prism of art.

Envisioning Democracy is organized by Nicholas Nemeth, TUAG Graduate Fellow (MA’25)

Image: Marcelo Brodsky,Washington, D.C. (from the series: 1968, Fire of Ideas), 2015. Archival digital print with marker.