Scholarships Allow PAFA Students to Travel Around the World

An artist’s education doesn’t end when they graduate from school. For many PAFA students, travel is an integral part of their practice and development as an artist.

Awarded each spring, the travel prizes at PAFA are among the most coveted of all spring prizes awarded at the Academy.

“Many of the travel prizes come with both $5,000 for travel and a year of tuition for a student, which can be absolutely life-changing,” said Student Services director Morgan Hobbs.

PAFA has a long-standing tradition of encouraging artists to explore the world and travel. The William Emlen Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship was established in 1902.

“The Cresson is a historical prize, it has been around for a very long time,” Hobbs said. “Longtime professor and PAFA graduate Dan Miller rode a boat across the ocean when he was a Cresson winner in the 1950s.

More recently established travel prizes included the Richard C. Von Hess Memorial Scholarship and Travel Award and The Raymond D. and Estelle Rubens Travel Scholarship. The Rubens Travel Prize was established earlier this year when the late Estelle Barenbaum Rubens, a longtime Museum docent, gave nearly $8 million to PAFA.

Aaron Feltman (BFA ’20) is part of the first group of students to receive the Rubens prize. Third-year students are eligible for the prize, which stipulates visit Europe the summer after their third year of study.

“I’m planning on going to Madrid for a week and then heading over to Venice and then making my way down Italy to Florence and then Assisi and Rome,” Feltman said. “I have a list of artists who are influencing my work right now and it starts with Velasquez which is why I want to go to the Prado in Madrid and then Veronese so I’m going to Venice, which is where he’s from. I’m going to Assisi to meet a contemporary artist named Alan Feltus who lives there.”

The second part of the scholarship provides full-tuition for the student’s fourth year of study.

“Having that year of tuition taken care of has taken a real burden off of me.”

Bethann Parker (BFA ’19) is receiving The Richard C. Von Hess Memorial Scholarship and Travel Award. Parker, a mother of two, has been balancing her studies at PAFA in Philadelphia with her family and home life in the Poconos.

She plans to include her family in her travel prize next summer.

“My husband and I are going to take our children into the Black Forest in Germany, which is where my roots are. I’m going to spend time researching my heritage and also the folk art within the small villages throughout the forest,” she said. “And then we’re going to travel down south through Alsace, France to Provence so I can study my favorites; Cezanne has been extremely influential in my work and of course Van Gogh as well.”

For Parker, the recognition of her hard work is as important as the prize itself.

“It's a long journey to get to this point and it was a lot of hard work,” Parker said. “For me to receive this award is just humbling because I look up to my peers, above and beyond anyone else. The amount of talent at PAFA is unparalleled. I hope I can carry it with honor and it’s an absolute blessing.”

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.