Press Release

PAFA Launches Fine Arts Venture Fund

PAFA Launches Fine Arts Venture Fund

Over $15,000 Awarded to Fine Arts Students in Support of Their Artistic Goals

PHILADELPHIA (March 21, 2014) – The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is pleased to launch a new program for Fine Arts students: The PAFA Fine Arts Venture Fund. Spear-headed by PAFA trustee Anne McCollum, the Venture Fund supports students’ artistic goals and encourages their developing professional practices. 

The first program of its kind at PAFA, the Fine Arts Venture Fund allows students to engage in a grant-seeking process, in which they develop a unique art project, write a grant proposal, and, for the semi-finalists in the process, present their work to funders. 

“At PAFA, we are committed to training artists with the technical skills as well as the professional practices necessary to succeed as fine artists,” says David Brigham, PAFA President and CEO.

In the program’s inaugural year, 36 students submitted grant proposals, with funding requests ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The Venture Fund awarded more than $15,000 to nine of the applicants. The awardees included painters, sculptors, installation and video-based artists at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The 2014 Fine Arts Venture Fund recipients are: Joon Bae (Cert. ’14); Inga Kimberly Brown (BFA ’14); Caitlin Clements (MFA ’14); Alexandria Douziech (BFA ’14); Brendan Keen (BFA ’13, Cert.’14); Claire Kowalewski (Cert. ’14), Lauren Pellerito (BFA ’14); Laura Sallade (Cert.’13); and Evan Schukis (BFA & Cert. ’14).

“The funders would like to see that all students at PAFA who pursue excellence in their work have the materials necessary to create that vision. We must widen the circle of donors/patrons to meet the need,” says Anne McCollum, Founder & CEO of AEM Investments, who has been serving on PAFA’s Board of Trustees since 2008 and currently serves as its Assistant Treasurer.

The grant enables Caitlin Clements to complete an intriguing project that she thought was out of reach.  Clements discovered the remnants of a poem, “Sleeping Woman,” painted on a stone wall by the Schuylkill River. The poem was a 1991 collaborative project between noted Philadelphia poet Stephen Berg, and artist and PAFA alumnus Thomas Chimes.  Berg and Chimes created the poem as a painting that would exist for 15 years and gradually fade back into the environment. Clements’ idea was to memorialize the work in acid on sheets of copper that would gradually oxidize over time until the poem would, once again, disappear. Committed to the project, but unable to afford the full complement of copper that she would need to create the work, Clements was searching for alternative ways of realizing her vision, when the Fine Arts Venture Fund offered her a perfect solution. 

“The whole journey has been magical to me,” says Clements. “This [poem] was created when I was in kindergarten, and I was afraid I would never be able to solve the mystery of it.  But Eileen Neff [current PAFA faculty] knew Thomas Chimes at PAFA and had actually been to the opening of “Sleeping Woman” back in 1991. She was able to put me in touch with Stephen Berg, and now I am so excited to be able to tell him that I am going ahead with the project.” 

Many applicants, even those who did not receive funding, expressed their excitement with writing a proposal, and several undergraduate senior seminar classes utilized the grant-writing process as an in-class topic for discussion and research. 

Student works created under the auspices of the Fine Arts Venture Fund will be on display at PAFA this spring, and several pieces will be included in the 113th Annual Student Exhibition, on view May 9 – June 1, 2014.


Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America's first School of Fine Arts and Museum. A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts presented by the President of the United States, PAFA is a recognized leader in Fine Arts education. Nearly every major American artist has taught, studied, or exhibited at PAFA. The institution's world-class collection of American art continues to grow and provides what only a few other art institutions in the world offer: the rare combination of an outstanding Museum and an extraordinary faculty known for its commitment to students and for the stature and quality of its artistic work.
Last Updated
April 11, 2017 - 4:27 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.