Low-Residency MFA and a BFA Major in Fine Arts Illustration

Low-Residency MFA and a BFA Major in Fine Arts Illustration

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

Image courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA).
July 22, 2014
Low-Residency MFA and a BFA Major in Fine Arts Illustration

Deadline: December 15, 2014

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
128 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102


Starting in the summer of 2015, PAFA will begin enrolling students into a new Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts program, completed in three eight-week summer residencies at PAFA and two semesters of work at the student’s home studio.

The new Low-Residency MFA will allow artists to complete and share offsite class work during the fall and spring semesters through social media and other means of online communication. It complements the existing MFA program and offers another way to join PAFA’s community of working artists.

The priority application deadline for the Low-Residency MFA program admission is December 15.

PAFA’s Low-Residency MFA differs from other programs in two key ways, according to program head Astrid Bowlby: “The first is that the student remains both deeply connected to PAFA and to the other participants throughout the 24-month degree cycle. This provides meaningful continuity and community for all concerned. The second is that it is expected that the faculty and students will utilize all forms of social media and current methods of online education in order to accomplish this.”


PAFA is also adding a historically significant program to its Certificate and BFA programs. Beginning in fall 2015, PAFA will introduce a new undergraduate major in Fine Arts Illustration. It complements the existing programs in Painting, Drawing, Printmaking and Sculpture.

Building on the artistic skills gained through PAFA’s rigorous fine arts training, Illustration students will create narratives, worlds and characters using mythology and symbolism through images, text, individual renderings, book forms, and/or sequential imagery. PAFA-trained illustrators will use these fine art skills to launch careers in book arts, animation, illustration, print media, and related design fields.

Illustration as a fine art is a part of PAFA’s legacy. During illustration’s “golden age” in America, PAFA-trained artists included Maxfield Parrish, who became one of the era’s most sought-after illustrators, and Violet Oakley, whose illustrations for books, magazines and poems appeared in many popular publications.

Building on PAFA’s long-held tradition is a new wave of recent alumni who are creating successful careers as illustrators. PAFA alumna Kate Samworth, for example, was encouraged by teacher and famed illustrator David Wiesner to pursue children’s book illustration. The result was her first book Aviary Wonders Inc., which The New York Times recently praised for its “brilliantly detailed and arresting illustration” and The Huffington Post called one of “20 terrific books to read with your kids.”

PAFA’s recent alums who have found careers as artists through illustration make the case for how the Fine Arts Illustration major will expand the possibilities for art making.

About PAFA
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America’s first School of Fine Arts and Museum. A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts presented by the President of the United States, PAFA is a recognized leader in fine arts education. Nearly every major American artist has taught, studied, or exhibited at PAFA. The institution’s world-class collection of American art continues to grow and provides what only a few other art institutions in the world offer: the rare combination of an outstanding museum and an extraordinary faculty known for its commitment to students and for the stature and quality of its artistic work.

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Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)
July 22, 2014

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