Sgraffito, Italian for “to scratch,” is a technique typically applied to pottery in which an outer layer of material is scratched away to reveal another layer beneath it. It can also be applied to enamel, which is how jewelry artist and metalsmith Tanya Crane MA’14, MFA’15 incorporates it into her practice.

Crane is a professor of the practice in metals at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Her unique take on sgraffito lends her work a meticulous level of detail and a mesmerizing clarity in design that, along with her pedagogy, earned her a 2024 United States Artists Fellowship.

Sgraffito is a fitting technique for an artist whose body of work chronicles memories and the passage of time. As a sharp tool gradually reveals a concealed layer and, eventually, a complete design, the stories embedded in Crane’s art slowly come into focus.

“I’m really interested in the stories [of the Great Migration] and particularly my family’s story,” she says. “I’m also interested in these old buildings that surround me [in Boston]: the remnants of the textile industry and the detritus that they’ve left behind.”

Her work also considers the concept of home. Crane currently resides in Rhode Island, the latest stop in her own sgraffito-like movement across the country that started with an artistic childhood in Los Angeles and took her to Seattle, New York, Wisconsin, and now New England, her path gradually revealing itself.