Journey through the PAFA/Penn program with well-traveled student

On any given day, Anna Hoppel (BFA ‘23) could be anywhere  

She might be painting in her Center City studio at PAFA, taking archaeology classes in University City at the University of Pennsylvania, hanging out at home in West Philadelphia, or painting the epic hills of Manayunk, the Philadelphia neighborhood where Hoppel grew up.

And even if she’s in her PAFA studio, Hoppel’s paintbrush might be taking her around the world.

“I've had the opportunity to go to a couple of different archeological excavations and help out, and that's been really influential on me. I'm interested in looking at the landscape through that lens and how human beings interact with the landscape.”

In the past few years, she’s been to Oman, Greece, Italy, France, and Montreal, along with a few other destinations. The archaeological trips and classes at Penn are thanks to Hoppel’s participation in the PAFA-Penn BFA program. For nearly 100 years, PAFA along with the University of Pennsylvania has offered a special dual-enrollment Bachelor of Fine Arts program. The curriculum combines PAFA’s fine arts training and liberal arts study through Penn, with participants graduating with an Ivy-league BFA degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

“PAFA is really a great school if you want to learn technical painting skills, it's probably one of the best places for that. I'm also really interested in art history and anthropology. So that's what I study at Penn. Having that more traditional liberal arts education, in conjunction with my painting practice is really helpful because they both feed into each other.”

Hoppel was first drawn to PAFA in high school when she took a summer life drawing class. She says she fell in love with the PAFA community and appreciates the small size and intimate atmosphere.

“One of the best things about being in a studio arts classroom is being able to see what everyone else is working on. And walking around and having your professor looking over your shoulder and helping you out in that way.”

Travel Opportunities through UPenn and PAFA

At Penn, Hoppel has been able to curate for the Penn Museum. She was part of the curatorial team behind Key Questions earlier this spring.

As Hoppel continues her studies at Penn, she’s been able to extend her time at PAFA. As part of the 2022 travel prize awards, she was awarded a coveted travel prize. Hoppel was awarded the Raymond D. and Estelle Rubens Travel Scholarship which includes funding for travel and an additional year of tuition for PAFA. The prize was established in 2019, when the late Estelle Barenbaum Rubens, a longtime Museum docent, gave nearly $8 million to PAFA.

Creating opportunities for students to travel is a longstanding tradition at PAFA. The William Emlen Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship was established in 1902. And more recently established travel prizes included the Richard C. Von Hess Memorial Scholarship and Travel Award.

Another bonus of the additional year of study is that Hoppel is showing at the Annual Student Exhibition (ASE) for a second time. With one year of ASE under her belt, she feels more relaxed going into the 2023 show. She is showing a collection of landscapes that she painted in the last year and a half.

But while she’s more relaxed, it doesn’t mean she’s any less excited for the ASE and the preview party.

“My favorite thing last year was Opening night, having everything be done and being able to totally relax and talk to visitors about the work and enjoy the experience. I feel like up until the preview party there's so much energy in the building and so much tension and nerves. And there's like this big sigh of relief once everyone's wall is up and everything is finished. That feels really good.” 

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, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.