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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Discovering hidden gems in PAFA's permanent collection and restoring historic landscapes for "From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic"

Eye Contact, on view through September 15th in the Salon Gallery, is an exportation of contemporary figure paintings and takes on the concept of the gaze.

As a Visiting Artist Program coordinator, Claudia Valenti (MFA '20) meets with all of the Visiting Artists, but she also goes out of her way to make sure her fellow students are taking advantage of the program too. She tells students that being busy isn’t an excuse for missing artist talks and not signing up for critiques. “We are bringing in newcomers who are just starting their stride and are now becoming well-known and then you have that connection with this artist who’s going to be someone like Kara Walker in 5 years,” she said.

From free museum days to lectures with artists and family art-making classes, PAFA has a full calendar of free events for everyone this month.

Usually Christine Belton (MFA ’21) is leading a class but this past summer she traded her regular role of teacher for a seat as a student. “I love to teach. For me, my personal practice supports my teaching and my teaching supports my personal practice and it makes this fantastic circle,” she said. “It sounds corny, like you complete me, but it’s true.”

Sara 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.