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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Sarah Havekotte (MFA '20) initially came to Philadelphia in 2018 to study painting and making paintings for collage. But as Havekotte took classes, her work stayed in a material and textile base. She now weaves and sculpts with found objects. “Things began to sort of compact in a singularity of home and comfort, and what really drives me as a maker sort of atomically fused and now we’re here.”

Alumni Erin Addie '18 and Gary Pergolini '18 are back at PAFA. The pair recently installed their replica of the Justice Bell in the Rotunda of the Hamilton Building for a temporary exhibition. The pair spent 400 hours researching in their shared studio researching, getting materials and constructing the bell.

For the past three summers, Lyn Townes '19 been coming to PAFA for the Low-Res MFA program from her Baltimore home to work in silence and explore it. The program is ideal for students who desire the community, support, and rigor of a traditional MFA, but with a flexible structure to fit their lives and schedules. From that first summer at PAFA to preparing to graduate and show her final thesis, Townes has kept the idea of silence in her head and at the forefront of her work.

Pax Formichella '21 is co-curating a drawing exhibition in the Anne Bryan Gallery. "A Good Habit Formed" focuses on the history of drawing at PAFA from the school’s founding to the present, and features old textbooks, sketchbooks from PAFA’s archives, as well as current student work.

16-year-old Max Brenneman is following in his older sister’s footsteps. In 2017 after his sister Sophie graduated from the MFA program, Brenneman began taking art classes at PAFA. This summer, Max dives further into his artistic practice by taking classes through the high school Summer Academy program. Summer Academy participants spend five weeks taking college-level art classes.

It might feel like you’re being watched in the Salon Gallery this summer. That's because PAFA's current exhibition of contemporary self-portraits by artists, "Eye Contact," explores how we see, judge ourselves to each other, and take control of a theoretical artistic concept known as gaze.

Critiques are integral to the learning and curricular experience at PAFA, designed to push students and make the most of their time while in school. Second-year MFA student Jess Aquino discusses her experiences with the critique process, and how they have shaped the work she makes.

Who came first—Philadelphia or New York? In "From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic," PAFA explores an untold version of American art history.

An unexpected job loss in 2011 forced Illustration student Frank Genuardi '19 to rethink his future and reconsider past decisions. So Genuardi went back to community college with the intent to earn a degree in business. Upon re-enrolling, he discovered he was a few credits shy of earning a degree in Fine Arts. After graduating, he chose to continue studying art at PAFA. Genuardi was selected by his classmates to give the Undergraduate Speech at this year's Commencement Exercises.

An artist’s education doesn’t end at graduation. PAFA has a long-standing tradition of encouraging artists to explore the world and travel. Awarded each spring, PAFA's travel prizes—the Cresson, von Hess, and the newly-established Rubens—are among the most coveted at the Academy.