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“I was surprised to find how strongly the faculty advocates unbridled self-expression. This was unexpected but very helpful.”
“Every person has a frequency that is unique only to them. I try to tune in to that in my portraiture.”
Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania can be a challenge when you’re considering a life in the arts. Making the choice of where to study can be a difficult one.
“I needed to know the foundations before I could break the rules. All of my work is autobiographical. I respond to it and it responds to me.”
Vincent Desiderio has played a major role in reclaiming painting as a valid and significant medium in late 20th-century art. He started out as an abstract painter before he focused on representational work.
Jon Laidacker was the lead muralist on the 85,000-square-foot "How Philly Moves" image that graces the Philadelphia International Airport parking garage walls near Interstate 95.
Njideka Akunyili was born in Enugu, Nigeria. Her paintings, characterized by rigorous figuration, explore the artist’s complex relationship to both Nigerian and Western culture. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe and is in the collections of PAFA, Tate…
“As a recent Fulbright Senior Scholar, my latest work in Nepal has inspired a renewed appreciation of my debt owed to PAFA. ... The school was crucial to my development as a global artist."
“Access to the excellent printmaking and sculpture facilities gave me the chance to experiment in new media and expand my narrative paintings into books and dioramas."
As a contemporary painter, Barkley L. Hendricks has made pioneering contributions to African American portraiture and conceptualism. He is best known for his striking and provocative life-sized portraits.

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.