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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Natalie Klett '19 rebelled against her artist family by studying geology. But the idea of a desk job gave Klett pause. Pursuing an MFA seemed out of the question for her, until a family member suggested she give a post-baccalaureate program a try to build up her portfolio. Klett chose PAFA because of the scholarship opportunities and the chance to live on the East Coast. These days, Klett and her fellow Post-Bacc colleagues can be found working alongside PAFA’s MFA students, soaking up new ideas.

After getting a BFA, Joe Rodriguez '19 moved into a career in medicine, All the while keeping up his personal practice. But long days in a hospital don't leave much time for the studio, so Rodriguez decided to devote himself full-time to his artwork. He came to PAFA’s MFA program expecting to work on his paintings, but found an encouraging new path in video art and installation.

Laura Deliz '21 attended an arts-focused high school in Puerto Rico but always felt a little different than her fellow students and knew her path would be different. She took a gap year to study at an atelier and shore up her fine art skills, which is where she learned about PAFA. Philadelphia was miles away from home, but she felt the traditions and focus on technique were a perfect fit.

During a museum trip to see an exhibit of dinosaur and fossil illustrations, Drawing student Gillian Cavoto '19 realized she could perhaps make a career out of her love or art and science. Cavoto now spends time at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University as a visiting artist where she gets to indulge her love of little creatures that crawl while working on her technical skills.

Headline after headline, the news of the day left an impact on Painting student Bethann Parker '19. She started painting issues of The New York Times in November of 2017 and soon realized she wanted to dedicate an entire year to exploring her perception of current events. With the help of PAFA’s Fine Arts Venture Fund, Parker was able to commit to a yearlong project, currently on view in the Broad Street Studio space.

Though many learn that American landscape painting begins with the Hudson River School, looking back a little further reveals that Philadelphia—and PAFA—is at the heart of this tradition. Coming to PAFA this June, "From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic," tells the story of landscapes before the Hudson River School.

The idea of things not always being what they initially appear to be resonates with Kat Martinez (BFA '20). As a first-generation Cuban-American, she has a complicated relationship with the island and expresses it through her art. After meeting MFA Chair Didier William, Martinez knew she wanted a fine arts education to shore her technique. She was then awarded a full-tuition Maguire scholarship to PAFA.

After two years spent at the University of Pennsylvania through the PAFA-Penn program, Nicolas Tomlinson '19 is back in his studio at PAFA and turning those concepts into art. Tomlinson looks to historical figures in the black community and music as a source of inspiration and personal expression.

Like many artists, she’s using the drawings of another artist to spark her creativity and create something new. But MFA student Sam Dominik pulls her inspiration from her young nephew’s scribbles. She came to PAFA after meeting MFA Chair Didier William, who set her on a different path.

The Anne Bryan Memorial Award was established in 2015 to support PAFA students on their artistic journey. The annual award is given to a select student each year to develop their professional careers. Previous award recipients Fang Fang Ren (BFA '17) and Aubrey Brown (Cert. '18) discuss how they have used the award and its significance to furthering their artistic careers.

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