Morgan Dummitt

Morgan Dummitt (Cert. ’13) started making art as a preteen to keep up with his friends.

“My friends were into these very expensive toy soldiers and my mom was like, ‘No, we are not buying those,’ so I started to make them,” he said.

Dummitt got good enough at making the figurines that during high school he sold them to toy companies. A friend eventually recommended he should try studying art to see where this burgeoning interest could take him.

With an intense focus on traditional sculpture and a desire for fine arts training, Dummitt said his options were limited when it came to choosing an art school. But PAFA fulfilled his niche. He chose PAFA for the PAFA-Penn program, a coordinated degree program with the University of Pennsylvania, and the ability to zero in on his interest in sculpture.

PAFA’s interdisciplinary education model gives students the option to study whichever disciplines they choose. Though many of Dummitt’s peers at PAFA didn’t make figurative work, he was still able to fully concentrate on his sculpture study.

“If you want to stick to a classical education, I don’t know if there’s anywhere you could get more model time and more instruction time than PAFA,” he said. “I would recommend anyone to come here.”

PAFA’s Foundation Year experience and class load left such a mark on Dummitt he continued to take First Year Figure Modeling with former PAFA professor Joshua Koffman even after his first year to sharpen his skills.

“I took it my whole time here because I wanted to learn anything Josh had to teach me so I just kept going,” he said. “It's the same class, you’re just in front of the model but it’s what you bring to it.”

What he took away from his time at PAFA was an arsenal of skills that have helped him build an art career and relationships that have kept him busy with projects.

“What I learned at PAFA in terms of sculpture has given me a lot of ancillary skills that allows me to make money, whether it’s stone carving for restoration, or bronze casting for trophies or for other artists.”

For the past few years, Dummitt has cast the Thomas Jefferson Awards for Bacchanal, PAFA’s flagship fundraiser which each year raised more than $500,000 to support student scholarships and community education programs.

He also recently a completed a restoration project with Professor Doug Martenson.

“I moved to Vermont for a couple of years and I came back to Philly because I didn’t have the infrastructure that I do in Philadelphia and that's because of the Academy,” he said. “If I didn't continue to nurture those relationships and be involved with a lot of people that I met here then I would be working at Home Depot still.”

Dummitt also teaches several Continuing Education classes at PAFA. He credits Philadelphia’s affordability, proximity to other cities, and art community with helping him at the beginning of his art career.

“I’m currently carving a portrait for somebody, which is cool,” he said. “I never really know what’s next because I might have a few months where I don’t have commissions then I have a sweet time where I can work on my own artwork or I’ll have an awesome commission or four things come together and I’ll be slammed. You just never know what’s coming up.”

—LeAnne Matlach (

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the United States’ first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers a world-class collection of American art, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and educational opportunities in the fine arts. The PAFA Museum aims to tell America's diverse story through art, expanding who has been included in the canon of art history through its collections, exhibitions, and public programs, while classes educate artists and appreciators with a deep understanding of traditions and the ability to challenge conventions. 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.