Students Gain Curating Experience Through Area Partnerships

Students at PAFA have opportunities to curate exhibitions throughout their time at the Academy. Each month there are new student-organized shows on different floors of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton building.

For Jiatong Tian's (BFA '20) first try as a curator, she took over two floors and exhibited the work of more than 35 PAFA students and alumni.

“This has been an amazing opportunity to create this chance for my peer artists and students, my friends, to show their works to a broader audience,” Tian said.

But this exhibition isn’t at PAFA; it’s 25 floors above the street in the FMC Tower in University City.

Song of Colors is the fourth exhibition of the FMC | PAFA Art Initiative, a unique program that displays student artwork throughout FMC’s headquarters at Cira Centre South. The initiative also includes a special program to meet and learn from the artists, purchase their work, and much more.


  • Exhibition curator Jiatong Tian '20.
    Exhibition curator Jiatong Tian '20.
  • L-R: PAFA President & CEO David R. Brigham, FMC Corporation CEO Pierre R. Brondeau, FMC Corporation COO Mark Douglas, PAFA School of Fine Arts Dean Clint Jukkala.
    L-R: PAFA President & CEO David R. Brigham, FMC Corporation CEO Pierre R. Brondeau, FMC Corporation COO Mark Douglas, PAFA School of Fine Arts Dean Clint Jukkala.
  • Installation view of "Song of Colors" at FMC Corporation.
    Installation view of "Song of Colors" at FMC Corporation.
  • Installation view of "Song of Colors" at FMC Corporation.
    Installation view of "Song of Colors" at FMC Corporation.

“It's great to bring art into a business environment and to create this nice artistic conversation between these two institutions,” Tian said.

The idea for the partnership came with PAFA President and CEO David R. Brigham visited the building when it was still under construction.

“This is spectacular building with great views of the city in 360-degree opportunities, but when we started this conversation, the walls were white and empty,” Brigham said. “Our PAFA students have brought color, a Song of Colors into this building, and you've really opened up some wonderful conversations with the staff at FMC.”

For Tian, Song of Colors is an opportunity for her peer artists to display their own understanding of colors, whether working with bright shades or a more monochromatic palette. She wants each artist to show their own individuality.

Tian, a sculpture major in the PAFA-Penn program, didn’t include her own work in the exhibition but says she enjoys playing in different mediums and materials when she’s making artwork.

As the student curator for the FMC | PAFA Art Initiative, Tian received a stipend from FMC to coordinate the exhibition from the initial call for works to arranging transportation for the art and overseeing the installation at FMC.

“This is the first show I've ever curated and it's definitely a new process for me. I did do a lot of research and then had to do a lot of studying and self-educating,” she said. “I did learn a lot through this and it’s been really inspiring to see works from other artists.”

Most works in the exhibition are available for sale.

“We have a lot of employees buying art now. We are buying art, we award students for the art that they bring,” said Mark Douglas, Chief Operating Officer at FMC and a member of PAFA’s Board of Trustees. “I think it's a very viable commercial operation as much as it is a philanthropic operation for FMC.”

Brigham says the partnership has given students great exposure to audiences who might not otherwise be familiar with PAFA and teaches them skills they can carry into their careers as artists.

“We are very committed at PAFA to not only to provide technical training but to also providing professional practices opportunities to our students. Whether it's an internship to work on a structured exhibition or exhibition opportunities in non-traditional spaces, we want to give students as many opportunities and experiences as we can.”