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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The Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives at PAFA receives more than 300 requests each year from patrons seeking information and assistance locating historical information to support research projects. Hoang Tran, PAFA’s Director of Archives, maintains hundreds of thousands of documents, photographs, and books that are called upon by students, curators, historians, and genealogists.

MariJo Miranda (BFA ’21) began exploring art in elementary school as a way to express herself and connect with her peers. Miranda, born and raised in Mexico, knew she wanted to study art in the United States. After spending 5 weeks studying at PAFA through the Summer Academy for high school students, Miranda knew where she belonged.

After graduating with a mathematics degree, a lifelong love of art drew Claire Huber (MFA ’18) to PAFA. Huber's current work focuses on painting celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez, drawing many visitors to this year's Open Studio Night. Her celebrity series will be on display at the upcoming Annual Student Exhibition.

Morgan Hobbs (MFA '15) discusses her experiences balancing her responsibilities at the artist-run gallery AUTOMAT Collective, and her work as PAFA's Resident Director and Student Life Coordinator. AUTOMAT Collective was the recipient of funding from PAFA's Fine Arts Venture Fund, which awards more than $20,000 to student projects. The funding is used for various student-led projects from purchasing supplies to mounting an installation.

Nicole Parker (BFA ’17) has always been confident in her technical ability to paint, but going into the 2017 Annual Student Exhibition, she was a ball of nerves. After working with several critics at PAFA, Parker built up her confidence in talking about her work.

Steven Dufala (Cert. ‘00) and Billy Blaise Dufala (Cert. ‘03) are prolific multidisciplinary artists whose work defies categorization extending from sculpture and drawing to theater, music and performance art. They co-teach a course in the BFA program. In conversation with artist Sharon Louden, the brothers discussed the importance of community, their time at PAFA, and how they make a living as artists.

PAFA’s Continuing Education program offers more than two-dozen classes each season for people looking to expand their skills and join a community of artists. Each spring, CE students have the opportunity to show at PAFA through the Continuing Education Programs Annual Student Exhibition.

PAFA's student-run Visiting Artists Program brings an outstanding roster of local, national and international artists to PAFA each semester. Students get the opportunity to experience one-on-one private critiques with artists such as Amy Sherald, Njideka Akunyili, and Cosmo Whyte.

Through the Restorative Justice program, Aaron and other young people on probation work as paid apprentices through Mural Arts Philadelphia, receiving job training, mentorship and art education. Learning to make art themselves at PAFA is part of the 6 month job-training program. At the end of the program, successful participants are paired with muralists and carpenters at Mural Arts Philadelphia to work on community projects.

Artist Melissa Joseph (MFA '18) has focused her work on gun violence and the difficult task of healing while studying at PAFA. For three days, Joseph invited anyone to join her in the Broad Street Studio to wash and talk, as part of her Expunge project.