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 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.

Kathy Putnam’s art was always on the backburner as she focused on raising her family and a career in finance, but she kept returning to PAFA. An interest in painting led her to take PAFA's Continuing Education classes 25 years ago, which lead to participating in the school's Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program, and finally earning a Master's of Fine Arts degree.

Blinded in a car accident at the age of 21, sculptor Kathy Faul hasn’t let the disability slow her down. Faul built up her art skills alongside sighted students through Community Education classes. Her sculptural work focuses on carving animals out of stone.

As he graduates from PAFA, Aubrey Brown (Cert. '18) receives the Anne Bryan Memorial Award, named for the first friend he made at the Academy. Bryan’s young life was tragically cut short when she was killed in the Salvation Army Thrift Store building fire and collapse on June 5, 2013, at 22nd and Market Streets in Center City. Established by Bryan’s mother, the award assists PAFA students to realize their potential as practicing artists.