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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Nzinga Simmons and T.K. Smith are recipients of the Tina Dunkley Fellowship in American Art, a 2-year fellowship providing hands-on training in curatorial practice and museum professions for individuals from historically underrepresented groups who have expressed an interest in American Art. Here at PAFA, the two are shadowing museum director Brooke David Anderson and the curatorial team. Rhoden Collection curator Dr. Brittany Webb aims to expose Simmons and Smith to every aspect of running a museum.

At Hahnemann University Hospital, PAFA students draw cadavers that have been donated, giving them an opportunity to learn and practice their skills. PAFA professor Anthony Ciambella said students incorporate the experience into their work in many different ways.

As Roman Catholic High School embarks on a new era of fine arts with the opening of the Howard Center for the Arts, they are reflecting on and celebrating the 25th anniversary of Roman’s partnership with PAFA through the After School Studio Arts Program for high school students.

The spark for Maura Roncace’s projects can come from anywhere. Read how the MFA student uses art to explore difficult themes as a means to process her feelings and experiences.

While working in PAFA’s Broad Street Studio, MFA student Rod Jones II reacts to the people walking by and how they interpret his work. In addition to reaction from people on the street, Jones recently received feedback from artist Doreen Garner. Garner visited PAFA as a part of the Visiting Artist Program and spent the day lecturing and meeting with students in their studios.

"'Alter'ing American Art" (now on view through December 16th), features works from PAFA's Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women, and looks at the shifting definition of what it means to be “American.” The curators of this exhibition are aiming to give voice to artists and people who are often voiceless.

“I came to Philly and toured and I loved it. I loved the city,” said Dara Haskins (BFA '19). “It just felt like a home away from away home, somewhere I could grow. Not just grow as an artist but also grow as a woman in Philly, I love it here.”

A 3-D print of a skull made its way to a forensic reconstruction workshop, and into the hands of PAFA student Kathleen Gallo. Through her work transforming the skull into a face, Gallo was able to help a family identify a missing person.

PAFA Museum Director Brooke Davis Anderson, along with members of the staff and faculty recently toured the museum with new students to better introduce them to the gems inside the Historic Landmark Building, and what visitors might be missing when they visit. As the galleries change frequently, the museum team encourages visitors to come back often to see different works in the permanent collection and find inspiration.

As first-year students navigate their first few weeks at PAFA, they know they can look to second-year student and orientation leader Andy Fecile (BFA '21). Being a friendly face and supportive friend for their fellow students has been a goal for Fecile since they arrived at PAFA. From working as a student ambassador, volunteering with the After School Studio Arts Program for High School students, to co-founding the diversity and inclusivity board, Fecile strives to help make PAFA a welcoming space for all students.