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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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.

Artists Nestor Armando Gil and Didier William met at the Experimental Printmaking Institute. The meeting led to a friendship and the two-person exhibition SWARM., currently being shown at PAFA.

Low-Res MFA student Beth Cody is in her final year of PAFA's Low-Res MFA program. “It was great for me because I wish I could do this forever,” said the California native. “It’s so special to be here.”

When Jessica Willittes (Cert. '17) had her work "39 Victory Acres Between Us & Them" chosen for Infinite Spaces, PAFA's summer exhibition, it needed to be preserved and readied for hanging. Liz McDermott, PAFA's conservator technician, stepped in to teach Willittes about conserving artwork.

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.