One Artist’s Journey Begins at PAFA

Two years ago Grace Mox (BFA ’22) didn’t see art as the direction for her.

“I had always enjoyed it and thought of it as a hobby but was told that art is impractical and all of those stereotypical things.”

But going through a rough patch her junior year of high school opened Mox’s eyes to what art could mean for her life.

“I met artists and they talked to me about the things I cared about like mental health, sexuality, and other things,” she said. “I looked at their art and thought, ‘I want to do that.’ They were being themselves and I wanted to be myself.”

Mox continued her art practice with a longtime teacher and PAFA graduate John McCormick and she began visiting art schools. PAFA’s Center City campus, close proximity to her family in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Foundation Year experience sealed the deal for Mox.

  • Grace Mox.
    Grace Mox.
  • Grace Mox, "School Bus"
    Grace Mox, "School Bus"
  • Grace Mox, "Fridge"
    Grace Mox, "Fridge"

The Foundation Year curriculum challenges first-year PAFA students to develop techniques and a base for multiple disciplines. Each day of the week is devoted to a different medium, such as a drawing, painting, or sculpture.

“I am really excited about the set up of the foundation year because you are able to draw for a whole day. You don’t have to break focus. I’m used to a 45 minute period and then having to switch and it’s so distracting.”

In her art classes with John McCormick, Mox has focused on still life and charcoal drawings, but her true passion is oil painting and chalk pastel.

“I love using color, it makes me happy,” she said.

Her focus on color helped Grace stand out and win a full-tuition Maguire scholarship to PAFA.

The Maguire scholarship is made possible through the generosity of the Maguire Foundation and its commitment to excellence in art education. Prospective students are measured on the strength of their portfolio. Students with the strongest portfolios are nominated for the Maguire Artistic Excellence Scholarship. Nominees then complete a Challenge Portfolio and scholarships are awarded, based on the artworks submitted.

For Mox’s Challenge Portfolio she painted a self-portrait of herself getting on the school bus. The painting was inspired by artwork in PAFA’s permanent collection: Jane Dickson’s Laundromat.

“She’s just doing her laundry and it’s bright. So I thought about mundane things do I do in my life, and thought about taking the school bus,” Mox said. “I wanted to draw people doing mundane things because those are the things that connect everyone.”

Riding the school bus can be considered mundane but up until her senior year of high school, Mox had never done it. For most of her education, she was homeschooled but wanted to try a traditional school for her final year of high school.

“It was the best year ever,” she said. “Going in I wasn’t sure if I’d make friends but it turned out great.”

She’s unsure of what the next chapter will bring, but she’s excited for the what’s next.

“I’ve always wanted to live in the city and I’m excited to meet everyone and learn from them,” Mox said. “I hope to get better at things and also make discoveries and do things I’ve never done before. I’ve never done printmaking, I’ve never done sculpture. I’m excited to do things I haven’t done before.”