Wednesday, May 28

MFA Graduation!

On May 9, 2014, I graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with a Master of Fine Arts degree. 

photo: Alma Selimovic

Earlier that day I attended the awards ceremony where I was honored, delighted, and deeply touched to receive the MFA Faculty Award. The prize description reads:

The MFA Faculty Award is to be presented yearly to the student who, in the estimation of the MFA Faculty, has made a major contribution to the graduating class on the basis of the exceptionally high quality of his/ her work throughout the graduate career and who has exerted a positive influence over his/ her fellow students. First awarded in 2002.

A week earlier, when it was announced I was this year's recipient, I was completely taken by surprise, almost floored.  I had to brush away some sneaky ninja tears and take a few deep breaths. There were so many highly qualified students to choose from that I never even gave the possibility a thought! I am truly honored, and grateful for this encouraging vote of confidence from my faculty, whom I hold in the highest regard. I need to live up to it, going forward.

photo courtesy PAFA

Here's my entire MFA class, assembled on the grand stairway in the historic landmark building, one of the most beautiful buildings on earth. Nice place to be "from."

I'm embarrassed but delighted too. photo: Mike Manley

So, May 9th was also my birthday. When I got up to make a speech at some point in the graduation ceremonies, the Dean of the school, Jeff Carr, stopped me before I reached the podium and led everyone present in a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday!" What a moment. I was intensely embarrassed but it was also pretty cool to have hundreds of people singing Happy Birthday to me...can't image anything like that will ever happen again! Bizarrely cool thing to happen. Thank you Jeff Carr! 

Nancy Bea Miller, David Brigham, Jane Golden, Al Gury
photo: Darian Downs

I love this quick shot taken by my mother-in-law showing me, PAFA president David Brigham, Commencement Speaker Jane Golden (oh my god she was such a great speaker!) and PAFA Painting Department Chair Al Gury, right after the ceremony ended. It kind of makes up for the fact that I don't have a photo of my receiving the diploma or posed afterwards with my diploma. Not only was the official PAFA commencement photographer shooting at a weird angle (up and from the side?) but in addition he caught a transition movement in my face where it looks like I am wincing, eyes closed and mouth a grimacing rictus. On my way to or from a happy smile but not there. So, no, not going use that one! And my family and I didn't think to take the usual post graduation diploma and big grin shot though, I guess, though I do remember some photos being taken somewhere by someone....but NBD!

Amanda Mason and Maisie Moseley, twice, and me at the reception.
photo: Rick Moseley
I in fact took lots of shots of the day, and night, recording the event through my own eyes (yay camera phones!) and I posted the best of them to Facebook. If you want to see happy people and acres of art just go to this link:

So, now I am a Master of Fine Arts. I wish my Mom had lived to see it. She had the only other Master's Degree in our immediate family and she would have been so proud of me, following in her academic footsteps. Many thanks and love to all who helped me achieve this! And I promise to use my powers only for good. ;-)


Anonymous said...


Indigene Theresa said...

Congratulations to an amazing artist and beautiful person! Bravo, dear one, BRAVO!!!!

rebecca said...

I can only echo what Indigene said. Brava to a truly magnificent painter and human being! LOVE.

Sonya Mann said...

Congratulations! You are awesome & it's a good thing they know it :)

sonia a. mascaro said...