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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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.

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.

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