Press Release

PAFA's 116th Annual Student Exhibition Opens May 12

PAFA’s 116th Annual Student Exhibition Opens May 12

An annual ritual for art collectors and a PAFA tradition for more than a century

PHILADELPHIA (April 17, 2017) -- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) presents its 116th Annual Student Exhibition, May 12 - June 4, at 128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia. The exhibition opens to the public with a reception on May 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

An academic capstone and the longest-standing exhibition of its kind, the Annual Student Exhibition (ASE) offers PAFA’s emerging artists the opportunity to curate, install, and sell their own work in a professional setting. While graduating student art exhibitions are not uncommon, PAFA’s show takes place in a major museum.

The exhibition marks the end of a student’s time at PAFA but the beginning of their contribution to the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia and beyond. Among the many successful artists who have launched their careers at the Annual Student Exhibition are Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Bo Bartlett, Moe Brooker, Barkley Hendricks, and Sarah McEneaney. Other graduates have gone on to open their own galleries, from Gerry Givnish (The Painted Bride) in 1969 to Katherine Stanek and Deborah Fine (Stanek Gallery) in 2015.

This year's ASE will feature approximately 1,000 works in various media by 38 graduating MFA students, 59 third- and fourth-year Certificate and BFA students, and 8 Post-Baccalaureate students.

One of the most highly anticipated student group shows in the country, the ASE offers a rare chance to view and purchase works by the art world’s young talents, including winners of PAFA's prestigious travel awards, museum purchase prizes, and other prizes awarded for various categories of excellence. Thousands of visitors come to see the work: artists, collectors, curators, gallery owners, and the general public.

PAFA’s curriculum prepares students for the ASE through studio classes in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and illustration; critiques from faculty and visiting artists; student-organized exhibitions throughout the academic year; and ASE workshops on topics ranging from pricing artwork and talking about their work, to planning and installing an exhibition, as well as artwork management practices, and curator discussions.

The Annual Student Exhibition will feature a multitude of experiences for visitors that are unique to this year. Among the undergraduates, Gabrielle Shefski (BFA ‘17) will present an installation and interactive art-making experience in the new Broad Street Studio, gift of the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation, and Janusz Suchta (BFA ‘17) will create a virtual reality experience in the first-floor Fisher Brooks Gallery, both located in PAFA’s Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building.

Among the MFA students, Alexander Coco (MFA ’17) is creating an installation that will “convey the debris of remembered experiences,” while Holly Matthews (MFA ’17) will install her paintings in a carefully created and intimate space intended to provide a respite for exhibition visitors. In addition, prize winning work from throughout the 2016-2017 academic year will be on view in Gallery 128, located on the lower level of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building.

The ASE opening reception will take place immediately following the school’s 212th Commencement ceremony on May 12 at 3 p.m. at 118 North Broad Street, Philadelphia.  

PAFA will recognize 93 graduating students, including 15 Certificate program graduates; 29 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates; 3 BFA/Certificate graduates; 8 Post-Baccalaureate graduates, and 38 Master of Fine Arts graduates.

Joan Semmell, a pioneering feminist painter, professor, and writer, best known for the large-scale nude self-portraits she has been making since the 1970s. will address the class of 2017 as the Commencement speaker.

Anne Minich, whose dexterous drawings and meticulously painted constructions investigate the consistency and the truth of human duality, ambiguity, and multiplicity, will receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Lorraine Riesenbach, co-founder and director of the Artists’ House Gallery in Philadelphia, will receive the 2017 Alumni Service Award.

More information can be found at


Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts, PAFA is a recognized leader in fine arts education with a world-class permanent collection of American art.



Last Updated
April 17, 2017 - 10:09 AM

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.