Press Release

PAFA Holds 213th Commencement on May 11

Nick Cave to Deliver Commencement Address;
Quentin Morris to Receive Distinguished Alumni Award;
John Thornton to receive Alumni Service Award

PHILADELPHIA (April 12, 2018)—The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) will hold its 213th Commencement exercises on Friday, May 11 at 3 p.m. in the Historic Landmark Building, 118 North Broad Street, Philadelphia.

PAFA will recognize 87 graduating students, including 14 Certificate program graduates; 20 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates; 4 BFA/Certificate graduates; 10 PAFA/Penn BFA graduates; 7 Post-Baccalaureate graduates, and 32 Master of Fine Arts graduates.

Nick Cave is an American artist working between the visual and performing arts through a wide variety of mediums including sculpture, installation, performance, video, designed object and fashion. He is well known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of his body. He lives and works in Chicago, where he spearheads the graduate Fashion Design program at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. His work is shown nationally and internationally, including at MASS MoCA, Cranbrook Art Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum and ICA Boston. Nick Cave: Rescue is on view through May 13, 2018 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The exhibition places three opulent sculptures by Cave in conversation with each other with selections from PAFA's permanent collection. Cave’s Rescue series from 2013 glorifies found ceramic dogs on thrones of discarded flea-market objects. Perched on ordinary chairs and antique armoires, the dogs become masters of their kitschy miniature universes, which Cave creates with cages bedecked in beads, ceramic birds, metal flora, and crystals.

Quentin Morris, a Philadelphia native who studied at PAFA from 1963-1967, will receive the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award. As a student at PAFA during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Morris began employing the color black in his work as a means of merging formal elements with conceptual and symbolic ones.  He has continued to use the color black throughout his career, using his monochromatic paintings and works on paper as a means of investigating themes surrounding identity politics and spirituality. He has exhibited his work at PAFA and six of his works are represented in the Museum’s permanent collection.

John Thornton, who attended PAFA from 1976 – 1980, will receive the 2018 Alumni Service Award. He has remained an active and engaging member of the PAFA community through producing videos that highlight PAFA alumni and showcase their successes, including the Annual Student Exhibition and Open Studio Night. Thornton and his videos, which he publishes on his YouTube channel for the public to view, have been a crucial way of keeping the PAFA community united and informed.

“We are thrilled to have Nick Cave join us at PAFA as this year’s commencement speaker,” said Clint Jukkala, Dean of the School of Fine Arts. “Students have been enjoying Cave’s remarkable Rescue exhibition on view in our galleries and will now get to hear directly from the artist.  We are also delighted to be joined by alumnus Quentin Morris, whose powerful monochrome work is part of PAFA’s museum collection, and the prolific filmmaker John Thornton, who has made countless films shining light on the successes of PAFA’s students and alumni.

The Commencement ceremony will be followed by a public opening reception for the 117th Annual Student Exhibition (ASE), from 5–8 PM. A private Preview Party will be held from 4–8:30 PM on May 10, 2018. The event is hosted by the Women’s Board of PAFA. The exhibition is on view in the galleries of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building through June 3, 2018.

The ASE is one of the most highly anticipated student exhibitions in the country and the longest-running exhibition of its kind. More than 1,000 works of art are on view by PAFA’s talented emerging artists in the Certificate, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, and Post-Baccalaureate programs.

Last Updated
May 1, 2018 - 4:59 PM

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.