Danielle Abrams Papers

Danielle Abrams rowing a boat

The Danielle Abrams Papers document the life and work of the performance artist and Tufts professor of the practice Danielle Abrams (1968-2022). Abrams was a vibrant and beloved member of the Tufts community and performance art scene. Her work focused on issues of race, religion, and sexuality, rooted in her Black, Jewish, and LGBTQ+ identities. This collection includes audio and video recordings, photographs, idea notebooks, and other records related to her artwork and career.

Danielle Abrams was born on March 30, 1968, in Flushing, Queens, to Stephanie Belkin Abrams, a teacher and guidance counselor, and Eddie Abrams, a driver for the post office. She received her BFA from Queens College and an MFA from the University of California at Irvine. She taught high school art in Danielle Abrams in a grocery storeNew York City, and taught at the University of Michigan, Goddard College, and City University of New York, before joining the faculty of Tufts first as a visiting artist and then as a professor of the practice. She tragically passed away at her home in Boston on April 21, 2022.

The Danielle Abrams Papers at Tufts Archival Research Center (TARC) contains subject files, notebooks, audiovisual media, photographs, slides, correspondence, catalogs, clippings, digital media, realia, puppets, and other materials documenting Danielle Abram's artistic career. Perhaps the most intriguing box in this collection from its title, the puppets are images of important figures, such as Barack Obama, pasted onto posterboard and mounted to wooden dowels.

Visual and digital media recordings of Abrams’ performance art are well represented in the collection. TheDanielle Abrams in character for performance collection contains her personal photographs of vacations, family, and friends and several videos in various formats of her performance art throughout her career. In the videos Abrams inhabits personae to explore the intersectionality of racial, religious, and sexual identities. She uses humor in these characters to recontextualize historical civil rights figures, art history, pop culture, and her own life experiences.

At the time of her passing, Tufts Now remembered Abrams’ work: “Sometimes scripted and sometimes improvised and interactive, her work incorporated film, video, spoken word, puppetry, installation, movement, and stand-up comedy. She would often embody an entire cast of characters in a performance, many shaped by her mixed race and queer identity.

Abram's haircut collageThe collection includes many of Abrams’ personal planners and notebooks. These notebooks are a deeply personal look into Abram’s thoughts. They jump between ideas for performances, plans for classes, dream logs, family stories, and snippets of poetry. A researcher could observe the conception, intention, and inspiration behind Abrams’ artistic works through the doodles and lists that she wrote in these notebooks. Her personal life is also documented throughout these notebooks and in the photographs of her family and friends.

 A portion of the collection is restricted from public access or may require review before use. These restrictions are described in the collection’s finding aid. As this collection includes audio and visual records in a variety of formats, access to audiovisual materials in this collection may be limited depending on availability of appropriate playback equipment. Please contact TARC for details.