UConn grad presents “Mother Tongue” in art exhibition

UConn Alumni Ted Efremoff speaks about his film that discusses his life and moving around the world while encountering different groups of people. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut graduate and artist Ted Efremoff presented his latest piece, titled Mother Tongue, in the Art Building on Monday night. “Mother Tongue” is a 60 minute film created along the Danube River in Eastern Europe that explores “intersections and boundaries of identity, place, and time,” according to the plaque beside the map of the journey down the river. Before presenting the exhibition, Efremoff talked with students and faculty about his life and previous work.

Born in Moscow, Russia, Efremoff came to America at age 16. He left Russia to avoid being drafted in the war against Afghanistan. He came to UConn for graduate school in 2004 and graduated with an MFA.

Since then, he has worked at Greensboro College in North Carolina and Central Connecticut State University. His art has been displayed nationally and internationally in museums including The Museum of American Art in Philadelphia, The National Center of Contemporary Art in Moscow and Gongju National Museum in South Korea.

Growing up, Efremoff was not able to travel outside of the Soviet Union.

“Living in the Soviet Union we were kind of constantly being eavesdropped on by the government,” he said.

He uses art to break down the cultural divide between himself and others. In his piece “Apartment 34,” he shows the world how it felt to have the government constantly watching and listening in, even in his own home.

All of his pieces involve different cultures and people of various nationalities. He has worked in Connecticut, Bulgaria and in several other places throughout Eastern Europe.

Efremoff also uses art to bring people together and to show different people’s points of views about life.

“I believe when artists work on these kinds of projects, for me, they are the most rewarding,” he said.

He said he is especially interested in maps. This can be seen in a tattoo that he has on his back, which depicts the borders of Afghanistan. The country was at war with both Russia and America, and he says the tattoo shows the healing of those people and the blood of its borders. He strives to make a difference and give people all around the world a voice through art.

“Mother Tongue” is the first exhibition of the year, and is the first ever solo show with a UConn Graduate.

“This is really the highlight of my career because Barry (Rosenberg, Director/Associate Professor of Art) puts together amazing shows,” he said.

Students and faculty alike were fascinated by Efremoff’s life and the exhibition itself,“ Effremoff said.

Ted is an alum of this program, so it’s really exciting to see how successful he’s been since leaving UConn and the many varied ways in which he’s found to share his artistic vision,” said Kaleigh Rusgrove, a studio art major in her second year of graduate school.

“Mother Tongue” will be on display until Oct. 13.


Melissa Scrivani is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at melissa.scrivani@uconn.edu.