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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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.

Sculpture professor Jody Pinto has taught at PAFA since 1978 and for 40 years she has pushed her students to seek out new experiences. The chance to explore is what drew Pinto to PAFA as an art student during the early 1960s. Pinto is now stepping away from teaching to focus on her work.

Tossing aside his prepared remarks, artist Nick Cave spontaneously took questions from PAFA’s newest alumni at this year's Commencement ceremony. He urged students to take charge of their careers, continue making work, listen to their creative instincts regardless, and challenge themselves as they forge their own paths.

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) is celebrating the work of more than 40 artists in the PAFA community. Scott Dimond, SAMA’s Curator for Visual Arts, said the exhibition brings a contemporary twist on traditional and realist painting.