Venturing Far Outside One's Comfort Zone

While visiting her brother at the University of Pennsylvania, Bhoomi Patel (MFA ’20) started looking for an MFA program so she could continue her at practice.

“My brother studied in Philadelphia, and my father studied in Philadelphia so my family has a history with the city,” she said. “I loved PAFA the most when I was visiting art schools here. I loved the different departments and the studio space and I knew wanted to come to PAFA.”

Coming from Ahmedabad, India, Patel said PAFA offered a flexibility that she didn’t have while completing her undergraduate degree. Students at PAFA are encouraged to work in multiple mediums and across departments to explore their artwork and expand their skill set.

“The faculty and all of the students are so friendly here, I didn’t have this thing in India,” Patel said. “I struggled with learning new things in India because some people were not as friendly in my previous school.”


  • Bhoomi Patel (MFA '20) at work in her studio space.
    Bhoomi Patel (MFA '20) at work in her studio space.
  • One of the walls in Bhoomi Patel's (MFA '20) studio.
    One of the walls in Bhoomi Patel's (MFA '20) studio.

Her art focuses on human relationships and how people change, as they get older.

“We engage in different relationships and we learn something from that, we change ourselves,” she said. “We give so much love and sometimes we get hurt so it changes us somehow.”

Patel says it was her mother who first noticed her talent when she a young child. Her mother noticed her daughter’s drawings were more advanced than her older brother’s artwork and encouraged Patel to developer her artistic abilities.

“When you’re a child you don’t know and you’re just doing do random things. It’s our parents who recognize our talents,” she said. “Basically my parents guided me and I realized I love art the most. I can express myself with art the most.”

Much of her art practice has been centered around watercolors but here at PAFA, she’s trying new mediums and creative outlets. She’s currently auditing an undergraduate class, Print and Communication with Eric Horvitz and has been able to pick up more digital skills.

“I had done my Bachelor’s in painting, but I was really lacking in digital art stuff so I wanted to learn that to explore my art medium,” she said. “I’m learning new things like Photoshop and animation and we did t-shirt printing. I printed my own painting on a t-shirt and that was a very amazing experience.”

In her Video Installation class with Kalup Linzy has been able to try performance art with her classmates and is learning about virtual reality. She’s glad to be trying new things and being pushed out of her comfort zone. These classes are a reminder of why she wanted to leave her hometown for an MFA.

“The art scene at home isn’t bad but it’s not that great. Some things are very new to me here,” Patel said. “Some of my classmates were talking about play VR games at home and I thought, ‘You guys have already been exposed to this stuff and I haven’t.’”

Even though she’s only been at PAFA and in Philadelphia for a few months, Patel says she hopes to stay in the city long-term and keep learning and growing as an artist.

“I see many more art opportunities here for my work than compared to India,” she said. “I really see so much opportunity and appreciation here so if I get a chance I would like to live here and work on my art.”