MassArt Alumnus Chosen for Fulbright Scholarship

Tom Ward, '11 (BFA, sculpture), has been awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship to study and practice his art in Sweden. Learn a bit more about his unique pieces and thoughts on the journey.

Q: How would you describe your art?

A: Primarily, I make historically and mythologically-inspired tools and weapons. They often include pattern welded steel and woodworking techniques. Some of them are a bit of fantasy on my part. I really enjoy making things that people have never seen before or would never think to see.

Q: There are a lot of swords and axes and dangerous things in your collection. Do you intend for them to be used?

A: It depends on its end use. Most items are done without the intention of it being used, so it doesn't have a final sharp edge, and if it were given a final sharpening it would be 100 percent functional. I've just found it is easier to display in galleries if it is not sharp. However, I do make real tools. I made a mounted cigar cutter that sits on the bar at Churchill Downs by Faneuil Hall. I also make some rough axes that are meant to be used.

Q: When you aren't in the studio, what do you do?

A: I've worked odd jobs here and there: construction, studio assistant, ornamental plaster work. I helped manufacture costumes for a Japanese boy band. I have also taught jewelry casting at Stonybrook Fine Arts. Basically, I've done anything and everything involving the fabrication skills I acquired at MassArt.

Q: You were awarded the Dondis Travel Award while at MassArt and spent two months working in London. Why is it important to you to travel to acquire more knowledge?

A: It's important to me to forward my historical knowledge of how things were made and produced. Traveling to specific locations allows me to work with conservators and historians directly. Working with them makes it much easier to figure out how things were made instead of guessing. There's a great old world craft tradition in Scandinavia, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Also, working with other artisans of greater skill than you can only be beneficial to your skill set and overall craft.

Q: Why did you apply for the Fulbright?

A: It seemed like the next right step to up the ante in my seriousness of what I do.  I wanted to go somewhere, immerse myself in the culture, and absorb the ideas they have about making these tools. In Sweden, I hope to work for an individual artisan who has either attained a great level of craft or is working in historical reproduction metalsmithing. 

To learn more about Tom, or to see more of his work, visit