Perspectives: Stories from PAFA

A platform for artists, scholars, and art enthusiasts—explore our rich history and culture of contemporary art making.

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As first-year students navigate their first few weeks at PAFA, they know they can look to second-year student and orientation leader Andy Fecile (BFA '21). Being a friendly face and supportive friend for their fellow students has been a goal for Fecile since they arrived at PAFA. From working as a student ambassador, volunteering with the After School Studio Arts Program for High School students, to co-founding the diversity and inclusivity board, Fecile strives to help make PAFA a welcoming space for all students.

After high school, Collin Cousart (BFA '18) moved to New York City to study psychology but realized the city and the major wasn’t for him. After leaving NYC and continuing his studies at Montgomery County Community College, PAFA kept coming up on his radar as a possible next step. Though it took Cousart some time, he appreciates the path he took to get to PAFA.

After setting out on a path that wasn’t her own, Suji Kannenganti chose to pursue her artwork seriously and started taking classes at PAFA in sculpture and painting. Kannenganti is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program, where she will receive hands-on experience inside a museum setting, working with curators and staff on exhibitions, collections, and programs.

As construction continues on the John and Richanda Rhoden Arts Center, PAFA is accessioning eight John Rhoden sculptures to serve as the focal points for the new auditorium space, opening this winter. Dr. Brittany Webb, the curator of the collection, says the eight sculptures chosen for the arts center show the breadth of Rhoden’s career.

Judith Brodsky addressed the second graduating class of PAFA's Low-Residency MFA program at the intimate August commencement ceremony. In her commencement speech, she thanked the graduating class for the artwork they make, as well as sharing in her own path to becoming an artist.

Two years ago, incoming PAFA student Grace Mox didn’t see art as the direction for her. But going through a rough patch during her junior year of high school opened Mox’s eyes to what art could mean for her life. As Grace continued working on her art, she began visiting art schools. PAFA’s Center City campus, close proximity to her family, and Foundation Year curriculum sealed the deal.

For most of his life, Mark White (MFA '18) has kept his artwork on the sidelines. Although he majored in art in college, his career path took him another way. After a career in the army, he retired and enrolled in the Low-Residency MFA Program at PAFA.

The pace and tone of weekly critiques from PAFA faculty, visiting artists, and fellow students in the Low-Residency MFA program are different from Kevin Hetzel's (MFA '20) previous experiences. They are a welcome addition as he continues to develop his art practice.

An art education at PAFA can begin long before students enroll. For students looking to strengthen their art practice, PAFA’s Summer Academy offers high schoolers a five-week, college-level art-making experience. Many students see Summer Academy as the opportunity to "try out" art school or an art major, to better plan for their college experience and beyond.

Growing up in the New York City area, MFA student Melanie Delach thought she already was where she needed to be as an artist. But her undergraduate professors encouraged her to branch out. Now about to enter her second year in the MFA program, Delach spoke about how a change of scenery has impacted her career and work.

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