Press Release

PAFA’s 118th Annual Student Exhibition Opens May 10; 214th Commencement Exercises to Precede the Event

PHILADELPHIA (April 9, 2019) -- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) presents its 118th Annual Student Exhibition, May 10–June 2, 2019 in the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building at 128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia. The exhibition has an exclusive Preview Party on May 9 with first access to art sales and then opens to the public with a reception on May 10 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 and is one of the most celebrated student group shows in the country. The exhibition marks the conclusion of a student's time at PAFA and the beginning of their contribution to the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia and beyond.

This year's ASE will feature approximately 1,000 works in various media by 29 graduating MFA students, 60 third- and fourth-year Certificate and BFA students, and 5 Post-Baccalaureate students (numbers as of April 8, 2019).

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, both at the exclusive preview party on May 9 and through the run of the show until June 2, 2019.

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 BFA students, Daniel Flinchbaugh (BFA ‘19) will create an installation that he describes as an "immersive and intimate experience of the Philadelphia landscape," including a bench with a topographic map of Philadelphia with the city’s historic streams carved into it. Visitors will be able to sit on the bench while they view his Philadelphia landscape paintings.

Another exhibiting student, Ash-Bob (BFA ’19) is working on a series of mixed media abstract paintings where she showcases "the dualities that we all face in life—the contradictions that we hold within ourselves."

"This show will be my first major public opening and I’m beyond excited to have a large audience see my work," she said.

Among the many successful artists who have launched their careers at the Annual Student Exhibition are Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Bo Bartlett, Moe Brooker, Barkley L. Hendricks, and Sarah McEneaney. Other graduates have gone on to open their own galleries and art spaces, such as The Painted Bride in 1969 by alumnus Gerry Givnish, Katherine Stanek and Deborah Fine's Stanek Gallery, and Automat, a collective space run by eight PAFA alumni.

The ASE opening reception will take place immediately following the school's 214th Commencement ceremony on May 10 at 3 p.m. at 118 North Broad Street, Philadelphia.

PAFA will recognize 87 graduating students, including 17 Certificate program graduates; 24 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates; 3 BFA/Certificate graduates; 5 PAFA/Penn BFA graduates; 5 Post-Baccalaureate graduates, 1 Fine Arts Foundation Certificate graduate, 2 Low Residency MFA students, and 30 Master of Fine Arts graduates (numbers as of April 8, 2019).

Chitra Ganesh, an artist whose multi-disciplinary, drawing-based practice addresses narrative representations of femininity, sexuality, and power, will be PAFA’s 2019 Commencement speaker. Ganesh’s work has been shown nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at PSI/MOMA, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi. She has received numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and Joan Mitchell Foundation awards, and her work is held by many collections, including the Whitney Museum, MOMA, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Ganesh has also produced a portfolio of silkscreen prints with the Brodsky Center, a collaborative paper and printmaking center devoted to the creation of new work, which relocated from Rutgers to PAFA last year.

"We are thrilled to have Chitra Ganesh joining us as PAFA’s 2019 commencement speaker," said Clint Jukkala, Dean of the School of Fine Arts. "Her questioning of narratives around gender, power, and the body, along with her interdisciplinary approach and a strong commitment to drawing, make her an ideal artist to address our graduating students, many of whom share similar concerns or approaches in their own work."

Jody Pinto, an artist and retired PAFA faculty member who graduated from the Certificate program in 1968, will receive the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award. Known for her creative integration of art into architecture and landscape, Pinto has completed nearly forty collaborative projects in the U.S., Israel, and Japan since 1975, including Land Buoy at Pier 53 in Philadelphia. She has received numerous awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Federal Design Achievement Award, and the National Design for Transportation Award. Pinto’s drawings are in numerous collections, including the Guggenheim and Whitney museums, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Astrid Bowlby, an artist and former faculty member who graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program in 1996, will receive the 2019 Alumni Service Award. Bowlby’s work in drawing and installation has been exhibited widely, including at Gallery Joe in Philadelphia and Steven Zevitas Gallery in Boston. Her work is in collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Bowlby has been an instrumental member of the PAFA community and a generous mentor to numerous students and alumni, particularly through her vital role as the founding head of the Low Residency MFA program.

More information can be found at

Last Updated
May 22, 2019 - 10:28 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, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.