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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After more than 20 years at companies such as Gap and AT&T, Sally Richards '20 decided to focus on her art. She began by taking classes in the Continuing Education program, subsequently enrolling in PAFA's Certificate program to expand and refine her skills. That desire to zero in and focus has followed Richards as she plans to show in this year's Annual Student Exhibition.

Charles Mason III '19 is about to graduate with his MFA. His art has always centered on race, but the way he expresses that has changed over the course of his two years at PAFA. As other students prepare for the ASE, Mason has chosen to exhibit his thesis at a local art gallery.

Studying art was a dream Rebecca Segall '20 knew she would get to someday, but wasn’t sure how, or when it would happen. Life took her on a different path as she raised her family and started a business. She eventually took a few classes at the Main Line Arts Center, but it was a chance meeting with PAFA President & CEO David R. Brigham to revive her dream.

The practice of printmaking has Jonathan Lyndon Chase (MFA ’16) thinking about his work in new and different ways. But an opportunity from the Brodsky Center at PAFA gave Chase the chance to tread new ground. As the inaugural Artist-in-Residence at the Brodsky Center at PAFA, he has had the opportunity to create a limited edition print work that is now for sale.

Nat Bombeke ’22 grew up in a community of artists. Since he knew so many PAFA graduates, it only seemed fitting to follow in their footsteps. At PAFA, printmaking captured Bombeke’s interest. After seeing the joy printmaking has brought him, he wants to make sure more people have access to the medium.

"Illustration is not a style, it's not a medium, it's an approach," Illustration department chair Jessica Abel says. By utilizing core skills learned in PAFA's First Year curriculum, along with classes in other departments, Abel helps Illustration students discover their visual voice.

Visitors to the newly-opened Rhoden Arts Center will encounter seven works by the late sculptor John Rhoden. PAFA acquired the estate of Rhoden, which includes more than 275 works by the African American sculptor. The works on view in the Arts Center serve as a precursor to the Rhoden exhibition PAFA will mount in 2022.

For her first try as a curator, Jiatong Tian '20, took over two floors at the FMC Tower and exhibited the work of more than 35 PAFA students and alumni. Tian's show, "Song of Colors," is the fourth exhibition of the FMC | PAFA Art Initiative, a unique program that displays student artwork throughout FMC’s Cira Centre South headquarters. The initiative also includes a special program to meet and learn from the artists, purchase their work, and much more.

The BFA program at PAFA may be a traditional fine arts curriculum but for student Raven Squire '20, she's been able to combine those foundational skills with her contemporary interests. Whether it's working on her podcast or collaging photographs, Squire has been trying out as many new types of media she can.

The first annual exhibition of the Philadelphia Society of Etchers was held at PAFA in 1882 and at the time was the largest print exhibition organized in the United States. The exhibition helped establish the Etching Revival in the United States in the late 1800s. Several of those etchings return to the public eye in "Etch and Flow," an exhibition opening June 28th at PAFA.