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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Two years ago, incoming PAFA student Grace Mox didn’t see art as the direction for her. But going through a rough patch during her junior year of high school opened Mox’s eyes to what art could mean for her life. As Grace continued working on her art, she began visiting art schools. PAFA’s Center City campus, close proximity to her family, and Foundation Year curriculum sealed the deal.

For most of his life, Mark White (MFA '18) has kept his artwork on the sidelines. Although he majored in art in college, his career path took him another way. After a career in the army, he retired and enrolled in the Low-Residency MFA Program at PAFA.

The pace and tone of weekly critiques from PAFA faculty, visiting artists, and fellow students in the Low-Residency MFA program are different from Kevin Hetzel's (MFA '20) previous experiences. They are a welcome addition as he continues to develop his art practice.

An art education at PAFA can begin long before students enroll. For students looking to strengthen their art practice, PAFA’s Summer Academy offers high schoolers a five-week, college-level art-making experience. Many students see Summer Academy as the opportunity to "try out" art school or an art major, to better plan for their college experience and beyond.

Growing up in the New York City area, MFA student Melanie Delach thought she already was where she needed to be as an artist. But her undergraduate professors encouraged her to branch out. Now about to enter her second year in the MFA program, Delach spoke about how a change of scenery has impacted her career and work.

The Currents summer studio residency program, hosted by the graduate program at PAFA, provides an intensive summer learning opportunity for rising undergraduate seniors. Thalia Hernandez, who is attending this year's Currents program, was attracted to the residency because of its unique location of being in an urban environment.

To infuse art into the construction process of the John and Richanda Rhoden Arts Center, PAFA commissioned Matthew Chapman (MFA '15) to paint a temporary mural in the Frances M. Maguire Gallery around what will become the entrance of the new space. To create the geometric design, he drew inspiration from the space itself.

Ahead of PAFA's Rina Banerjee exhibition this fall, the museum is activating several of its gallery spaces with Banerjee’s work. During the installation of Banerjee's 18-foot bright pink recreation of the Taj Mahal, the artist discussed the significance of the building, the role of marriage in society, and how these connect to her art practice.

For much of her career, Anne Greenwood has been a teacher. But right now she’s relishing being taught. The second-year student in PAFA's Low-Residency MFA program is taking a break from her career in teaching for the 26-month program. Even though she’s away from home, Greenwood is thinking of what she can bring back to her local art community when she finishes at PAFA.

Currents, a six-week summer residency program at PAFA provides undergraduate students from across the country with a rigorous art-making experience that includes individual studio space and student housing, lectures and critiques, museum and gallery visits. "You see students who are very used to the kind of discourse they have at their home institution and then they come here and are introduced to totally new concepts and ideas," said program director, Colleen Asper.