Arcmanoro Niles '13: Finding His Place In PAFA's History

Arcmanoro Niles (BFA ’13) is an award-winning painter whose work has been shown in exhibitions spanning from Philadelphia and New York to Costa Rica and Shanghai, China.

He credits his time at PAFA with instilling the values and skills that continue to inform his artistic practice and daily life.

“PAFA was a very exciting environment where I was able to figure out and develop a type of critical thinking that is applicable to many aspects of life, not just painting. I don’t believe one could find another undergraduate experience quite like it.”

A native of Washington, D.C., Niles first visited PAFA during a class trip in his senior year of high school.

“I was astonished by the students’ work hanging in the halls, the size of the studios, and I remember being particularly impressed by the faculty. The whole time I was on the trip I felt a tremendous feeling of being a part of something, a history, a lineage, something bigger than myself where all these artists who I admire went through here and now I can be a part of that too.”

Niles’ larger-than-life paintings are simultaneously representational and conceptual. Often using friends and family as his subjects, his work imbues complex, multifaceted narratives onto visually arresting compositions.

After graduating from PAFA, Niles received the Bob Colacello Scholarship, which allowed him to attend the New York Academy of Art for his MFA. In 2014, he was awarded a two-month residency and group show in Shanghai and in fall 2015 his work was part of a group exhibition at Long Island University. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn.

“The teachers and critics at PAFA were very caring and critical and did their best to see each student succeed. Painting was important to them; they cared about art and wanted to give back. There is a quote attributed to Ian Maclaren: ‘Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.’ This sums up how I think the teachers interacted with us because they’d been there, they knew some of the battles we may be facing and they did their best to help us.”


About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.