Michaela Morse is an interdisciplinary artist who looks to her background in textiles to channel her creative energies and inform the development of new works. Originally based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, Michaela began by investigating cloth through studying apparel design and working as a costume technician. She saw our clothing as the environment closest to our bodies and wanted to understand how it comes together to weave a greater social and cultural fabric. As a proponent of hands-on learning, this led Michaela to study and travel throughout Argentina and Chile. Her linguistic, social, and physical immersion produced more questions than answers, and she found that her investigation has translated and expanded to exploring environments both inside and outside of the body.
     How do we relate to these many landscapes today? What impacts do our bodies have on the greater Earth body? How do we communicate across this anthropological tapestry? From her work’s research to realization, Michaela will continue to consider the ways we are intertwined and engage with others in relating to the world around us.

The SMFA Garden is a collaborative project, led by myself and SMFA Library Coordinator Lauren Kimball-Brown. Conversations about developing a pollinator-friendly garden at the SMFA began in the summer and fall of 2019, as Lauren and I served on the SMFA Sustainability Committee. Thinking biologically, we wanted to feature New England plant species and sustain local insect populations like bees and butterflies. As others voiced their support, we began to see how the SMFA Garden could also become a social space to ignite the cross-pollination of young artists and artistic ideas throughout the SMFA at Tufts community.
      With much encouragement, Lauren and I applied to the Tufts University Green Fund, which awards grants to projects that support a broad definition of sustainability. Over what became a four month application process, we enjoyed connecting with enthusiastic students and staff about “greening up” our urban landscape. With the help of the Facilities and Public Safety departments, the cement balcony along the back of the school’s central atrium was selected as our first garden site.
      Since a garden needs plants, we connected with the Tufts Pollinator Initiative, a team of biologists on the Tufts Medford/Somerville campus. They agreed to donate the best plants for Massachusetts pollinators from their greenhouse. By the time we received funding on January 31st, 2020, our plans had expanded to include another container bed on the SMFA Library balcony and a 14-month design, installation, and activation process.
      As part of the annual SMFA Health, Safety and Sustainability Day on March 4th, Lauren and I hosted a collaborative workshop to brainstorm the design of the library balcony container bed and plant Lemon Queen sunflower seeds, which were placed in sunny windowsills throughout the school to sprout. We were also able to partner with a university trustee to plan for in-ground planting at the building’s front entrance, making the SMFA Garden truly visible to everyone visiting 230 Fenway.
      With the university’s closure in March due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the SMFA Garden’s timeline has been extended. Still, we are continuing to lay the groundwork that will enable this project to establish deep roots in the community.  The SMFA Garden will be a multi-site open space for events, performances, and the exhibition of student work.
     Throughout it all, we seek to raise awareness of current environmental issues and the importance of pollinators and native plants in our urban environment. Ongoing collaboration will be the key to this project’s success, and we welcome the knowledge and experiences of our peers. With the help of students, staff, studio managers, and faculty, the SMFA Garden will bloom for years to come.

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