The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has a lot of exciting announcements coming up. This Saturday PAFA will present the first major mid-career retrospective of contemporary artist Rina Banerjee, Make Me a Summary of the World, co-organized with the San Jose Museum of Art in California. There will also be a sculpture by Hank Willis Thomas debuting at PAFA in the near future. Not only will these new additions be premiering, but you may even catch a slew of high school students trained by PAFA as professional tour guides taking their classmates on an artistic journey through the museum.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has exciting new additions
The Rina Banerjee exhibit Make Me a Summary of the World will be on view to the public from October 27, 2018, through March 31, 2019, in the galleries at PAFA. It will be accompanied by extensive programming and a full-color, 160-page catalogue co-published with PAFA and SJMA. The exhibition will then open at SJMA from May 18, 2019 – October 6, 2019, before embarking on a national tour.
The exhibit is one you will not want to miss. Known for her large-scale sculptures and installations made from materials sourced throughout the world, Banerjee’s works investigate the splintered experiences of identity, tradition, and culture, prevalent in diasporic communities. Make Me a Summary of the World will transform the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts into an otherworldly and multi-sensory space. A fun addition to the exhibit is a giant hot pink, floating Taj Mahal made of plastic wrap now installed in the Galleries.
Hank Willis Thomas’ sculpture All Power to the People coming to PAFA is going to be an exciting addition. Thomas, founder of the For Freedoms public art campaign, will be speaking at PAFA this spring. “I am so pleased to add All Power to All People, which became such an iconic, Philadelphia public artwork during Monument Lab, to PAFA’s collection,” said PAFA Curator of Contemporary Art Jodi Throckmorton in a press release. “Hank Willis Thomas is one of the most exciting artists working today – it’s an honor for PAFA to now have such an important work by him.”
Along with the exciting additions to the museum the training of high school student docents is what makes the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts truly special. They have the only program in the area that trains students to become professional tour guides, giving them public speaking abilities, confidence and overall knowledge.
PAFA’s Student Docent Program is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and select schools in which 7th – 12th-grade students are trained to become tour guides for their classmates during a museum visit. The initiative invites students from across Philadelphia to become leaders and art critics, as well as inspiring confidence in young people. Over the course of several weeks, Student Docents hone their observation, critical thinking, leadership, and presentation skills while learning inquiry-based tour strategies.
Veronica Coccagna, 15, a 10th grader at Virtual Academy, said she was excited to participate in the Student Docent Program because “I love talking about art and hearing others’ opinions on art,” she said. “I’m excited to see all of the art in the museum. I’m a little nervous to give a tour because I have stage fright but this program has improved my public speaking skills.”
Alicia Caban, 16, a junior at Virtual Academy, said she has been involved with art for her whole life and came to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to learn more about “the history of art and how to discuss it with others.” “I’ve learned the questions to ask people about art and the body language I should use when talking to them. I’m excited to give a tour to my friends.”
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