STORIES FROM PAFA
Arcmanoro Niles (BFA '13) Featured in Current Exhibit and at Bacchanal
After graduating from PAFA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2013, award-winning painter and Washington, D.C. native Arcmanoro Niles has gone on to exhibit in solo and group shows around the United States, China, Costa Rica, and Ireland—including an upcoming show at ICA Boston in 2022—and his works can be found in permanent collections from coast to coast. He feels a special pride adding pieces to PAFA’s museum and his Homesick for a Home I Never Had is on view through April 2022 in the Linger and Flow exhibit. Mr. Niles will add a new accolade to an already impressive list when he is honored with the Jefferson Award at PAFA’s Bacchanal celebration on Saturday, November 13.
Answers are attributed to Arcmanoro Niles
Homesick for a Home I Never Had is on display at PAFA for the first time. Can you describe how it fits the theme of Linger and Flow, such as “stillness as a subject”?
I have always been interested in small, quiet moments. With my painting, I try to create moments where the viewer is walking up to a person in contemplation. In Homesick for a Home I Never Had, I painted myself, in bed, in a moment of repose—almost as if I were in between two moments.
What inspires your art?
I’m really inspired by people—sometimes they are loved ones, strangers, or even fellow artists. Most of my painting comes from the observation of everyday life, where I find myself contemplating the experiences that shape and affect us. This, added to my interest in 16th- and 17th- century painting, helps me shape the figures that exist within my paintings.
And what about your time at PAFA. Did that inspire anything for you?
At PAFA I developed my work ethic. When I moved to Philadelphia, it was the first time I lived on my own. I had to learn quickly how to balance a job, school, and studio time; and those skills I carry with me to this day.
What would you tell a prospective student who was considering PAFA?
PAFA has a very strong painting program, and its alumni include some of the most important artists of our generation. I find it a particularly good option if an artist is interested in the human form, anatomy, and figurative painting. From my experience, each one of the teachers poured their effort and passion into ensuring that we reached our goals in the studio, even when obstacles presented themselves along the way.
The award you will receive at Bacchanal is all about honoring your achievements as an alumnus of PAFA. What are some accomplishments of which you’re most proud?
One of the biggest accomplishments in my career has been entering the collection of PAFA, since the Academy was an essential tool for my development as an artist, particularly at a young age. Through its faculty, installations, resources, studios, and the entire team that supports its ecosystem, I was able to explore my full potential—something that I am humbled and grateful for.
Part of the goal of the Bacchanal is to support student scholarships. How did the scholarships you received as a student influence your education?
My partial scholarship allowed me to focus on the work I was doing as a student and devote most of my time and efforts to my studies.
Lastly, what are you most looking forward to at the Bacchanal?
PAFA’s knit-tight community is unique, and I’m looking forward to going back the school and seeing some of the staff and faculty that I haven’t seen in years.
—Diana Wensley, content writer