Archives for posts with tag: PAFA

It’s a busy year for Cynthia Norton. Not only does her work appear in Contraption, but also in the exhibit, Cynthia Norton: Freedom Rings Placed Within, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The exhibit, which runs from March 3 – May 27, 2012, juxtaposes PAFA’s fine art collection with references to Norton’s Southern upbringing and Kentucky culture. Check out the full exhibition description on PAFA’s website.


I’m back with another addition of Artists Talk. Like always check out our Artists Talk page for the full interview, but here is an excerpt.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the ideas behind your work and what you hope to convey to your audience. How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it?

TW: This is a big question.

I think I try to convey what any artist tries to convey.  It’s hard to put into words, but it’s a little like saying everything and nothing all at once (that’s not very clear, I know).

Making the work, I try to include everything from small bits of self reference, bits of feelings and opinions about day to day things, to the big ideas about why we make art, or why we do anything for that matter.  I think these are the same sentiments that drive anyone in his/her chosen profession.  How can I make the world a better place by doing what I do best? ….

….In this case, the works are oil paintings; some on panel and some on canvas.  They are mostly realist paintings painted with a, somewhat, limited palette.   I like to think that paintings depict the things I see, but only when the things I see look like the things I imagine.  By this I mean, they are pictures of scenes one might see in real life, but they have a quality that makes them seem not quite real.

QHow has PAFA’s M.F.A program influenced your development as an artist?

TW: The program has influenced my art in many ways.  Technically and theoretically, it has pushed me to better define what I am trying to achieve in my work, and it has provided me with a community in which to do this.

More specifically, I like to think that I can now attempt to join the lineage of Philadelphia artists with whose work I have become very familiar through the Academy.  From Thomas Eakins, to Walter Stuempfig, to Sidney Goodman, to Vincent Desiderio…all of these and more have influenced me.  Historically, there is a bleakness to Philadelphia realism.  Perhaps it started with trips to The Philadelphia Museum of Art as a child, but I am drawn to this sentiment, and I don’t think I would have been able to hone this taste as easily if I hadn’t attended PAFA.

The Frightened Ones, 2010, oil on panel, 18″ x 24″

Icarus and the Bird Girl, 2011, oil on panel, 48″ x 72″


I have another artist interview for you! A few weeks ago, I had a fascinating talk with Emily Erb. She had some really thought provoking things to say about the MFA. Check out an excerpt below and don’t forget to read the full interview on our Artists Talk page.

Q: Tell me a little bit out the ideas behind your work and what you hope to convey to your audience. 

EE: Well it’s on silk and generally politically driven, generally very colorful. I’m influenced by maps as well as political imagery.

Q: How has the MFA influenced your development as an artist and as a person? What have you learned? What skills have you developed?

EE: Of course, having my work seen by fresh eyes helps to influence it and steer it in directions it may not have gone.   Hopefully, it helps me make some of the connections that I need to make as an artist. I have switched up my process a bit. They wanted me to not paint on silk, so I tried painting on something else for a while and then went back to silk. I am working on new project that I am excited about.

This question of the value of the MFA has been on mind. I don’t think I would be a different person if I hadn’t gone for my MFA. Before talking to you, I was looking into what the MFA is supposed to be in society. What is it supposed to mean? It’s so unquantifiable. I was looking up articles about the MFA program as a whole, and found an article in the Huffington Post. It was focused on the MFA in creative writing, but I think creative writing and painting are comparable. The author sited few solid arguments for the MFA and against it.  He claimed that the reason we have the MFA isn’t for the benefit of each individual artist but for society to be able to maintain a standard of excellence and provide a living history of the craft, but I don’t know if it’s doing that.

Q: Why not? 

EE: Because a school is a business, because there are people who are there just to pay tuition. That doesn’t matter to the school, money and art don’t mix as nicely as we wish it would.  Maybe it would be different if the government funded MFA programs, but that would never happen. I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m going to finish my MFA degree and see what effect it has in my ability to achieve the goals I have as an artist.

 Guernica Revisited, Emily Erb, Dye on Silk, 2010