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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PAFA's exhibition, “First Academies: Benjamin West and the Founding of the Royal Academy of Arts and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art” looks at the history of the institution, of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century American artists, and the development of monumental history paintings such as Christ Rejected and Death on the Pale Horse, and of a slice of American history.

The communal space in the Sculpture department is more than an area to make work for Natalie Mallinoff (BFA '21). It’s where she carved out her place in the PAFA community. Mallinoff was drawn to the school and decided to pursue sculpture after attending PAFA's Summer Intensive program for high school students.

Luna Garisto (BFA '21) decided to attend the Summer Academy the summer before their senior year of high school to try out PAFA and to build a portfolio that would eventually get them accepted. Summer Academy participants receive the Next Steps Scholarship, which provides financial support to students who enroll in PAFA's BFA program. In addition to the financial support and expanded portfolio, Garisto said the Summer Academy showed her new avenues of creativity. Garisto is now a Printmaking major, with a minor in Drawing, and wants to become a tattoo artist after graduating from PAFA.

In high school, Ivonne Perez (BFA '19) thought she might become a doctor. But after two weeks attending a community college biology program, Perez knew she needed a change and switched to studio art. After receiving her Associate's degree, Perez arrived at PAFA as a transfer student to pursue a degree in Illustration. These days, she balances a full course load of art classes with learning how to make a career as an artist.

Professors and faculty members see their students grow as artists and as people during their time at PAFA. For over 30 years, Tony Rosati has led the Printmaking Department at PAFA, he’s seen students struggle and succeed in their work since the introduction of the program in the early 1980s.

Katie Weidlein (MFA '19) embroiders marriage market models onto the dresses, juxtaposing the emotionally charged dresses with examples of behavioral economics. The models attempt to predict the number of marriages. It’s a unique pairing but combining art with economics comes naturally to Weidlein. She double majored in the two at Lafayette College.

SWARM. brings together the work of Didier William and Nestor Armando Gil. The SWARM. curatorial team is sharing more about two upcoming exhibitions, Swarm. and Infinite Spaces: Rediscovering PAFA’s Permanent Collection on a dedicated Tumblr.

I’ve Always Worked Hard is the latest exhibition from PAFA’s Youth Council. The Youth Council is a free after-school program that offers interested teens a chance to create a prominent place for young audiences in the daily life of the museum. The Youth Council organizes poetry nights, poster-making events for their peers, and curates an annual exhibition.

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.

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