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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Low-Res MFA student Suzanne Morgan is in her first year of PAFA's program. After working on her studio practice privately, Morgan is ready to explore new mediums and utilize PAFA's facilities. “I’d like to play as much as I can while I’m here and do all sorts of things,” she said. “I’m very excited and I’m not exactly sure where I’m going.”

Graduates from PAFA’s MFA class of 2018 are mounting an exhibition this summer at 1969 Gallery in New York City's Lower East Sice, along with graduates from Boston University’s MFA program. This joint exhibition, titled MAP, features a selection of painting, sculpture, video, and installation work from these two programs.

PAFA’s history and prolific collection of American art stretch back to the 18th century. Many works from the country’s earliest and greatest artists call PAFA home. PAFA is equally proud of the contemporary artists it collects. "Infinite Spaces: Rediscovering PAFA’s Permanent Collection" highlights new acquisitions of historic, modern and contemporary works is currently on view in the Historic Landmark Building.

PAFA Digital Studio Technician Adrian Cubillas uses his knowledge of museum-quality imaging to help students get high-quality images of their artwork for documentation, applications, and printing. Having previously worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art documenting artworks, Cubillas helps students get the most out of PAFA’s digital labs.

Helping young artists grow is a responsibility Sculpture department chair Rob Roesch doesn’t take lightly. Roesch has taught sculpture at PAFA for 35 years. In his time at the academy, he has watched the department expand, and worked to give students the same experiences he’s had as an artist.

MFA graduate Ha Ninh Pham came to PAFA from Vietnam, looking to grow his ideas. For his next journey, Pham is headed to Maine for the 2018 Skowhegan Summer Residency program. After this residency, Pham hopes to build up his body of work and experience so he can eventually return to Vietnam and teach contemporary art.

Mario Scarlato (BFA '18) didn’t think PAFA was for him when he was deciding which art school to attend. But by his second year at UArts, Scarlato realized he wanted more painting instruction and transferred to PAFA.

Student walls at the Annual Student Exhibition are an expression of how artists have developed and changed during their time at PAFA. Candace Jensen (MFA ’18) and Rachel Means (MFA ‘18) discuss the path their work has taken as students in the MFA program.

PAFA's After-School Studio Arts Program for High School Students educates 200-300 Philadelphia students each year. The program, which has been running for more than 20 years, is completely free to students. Every week, classes in drawing, oil painting, illustration, comics, life drawing, and anatomy are taught by students in the MFA program.

In 2018, PAFA took over responsibility for more than 275 works by the late African American sculptor John Rhoden. As the curator of the John Rhoden collection, Brittany Webb is being tasked with stewarding Rhoden’s legacy through a major exhibition at PAFA and distributing the artist’s work among museums across the country.