UArtist Day of Giving, Feb. 27
The fifth annual UArtist Day of Giving on Feb. 27 is a 24-hour campaign for the entire UArts community. Make your gift to the school or UArts cause you care about most, and help unlock matching funds in support of our students.
Advancing Human Creativity
University of the Arts’ mission is simple: to advance human creativity. UArts believes creativity is the most essential skill for success in today’s society and has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders for nearly 150 years.
After being granted university status in 1987, University of the Arts became the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance, theater and writing. It now features 22 undergraduate arts majors, 12 graduate programs, and the nation’s first PhD program in Creativity.
With a gift of $25 or more, donors are eligible to receive custom UArtist socks designed by student Jenna Ellis ’24 (Illustration).
Jenna is an artist whose style exists in the nebulous zone between horror and humor. Her process utilizes a sharp, ink-focused approach inspired by the comics and animation she loves. Whether through complex illustrations, written narratives, or simple comic strips, her passion is telling stories. Others describe her work as “pretty cool,” which is good enough for her. After graduation, she hopes her eye for the surreal and commitment to never taking herself too seriously help her break into the comics industry.
The fifth annual UArtist Day of Giving will take place Feb. 27. It’s a day when our entire community comes together for a 24-hour giving drive in support of our students. All the action will take place on our GiveCampus page, on social media, and at special popup events on campus.
Last year, 1,140 students, alumni, families, donors, and other members of the UArts community helped us raise $246,186. Join us as we build on this success for Day of Giving 2024 by giving a gift on Feb. 27 or volunteering on campus!
Those who make gifts of $25 or more will receive a pair of limited-edition socks, designed by Jenna Ellis ‘24 (Illustration).
To learn more, contact Jean Murphy, manager for the annual fund and leadership giving, at email@example.com.
The top three schools that secure the highest number of individual gifts will not only win a coveted UArtist Day of Giving trophy; they will also unlock additional funds for students in their programs, thanks to a challenge gift provided by UArts Trustee Nat Hamilton BFA ’07 (Photography).
- 1st place school = $7,500 unlocked
- 2nd place school = $5,000 unlocked
- 3rd place school = $2,500 unlocked
Thanks to UArts Trustee Harriet Weiss, alumni can unlock an additional $50,000 if a total of 200 or more alumni make a Day of Giving gift! The school that receives the most individual gifts from alumni will win bragging rights and a UArtist Day of Giving trophy.
If staff help to raise a total of $10,000, they will unlock a challenge gift for an additional $50,000 pledged by UArts Trustee Seth Lehr. The department that helps raise the most money will win a UArtist Day of Giving trophy and a special reward.
How can you help unlock additional funds?
- On Feb. 27, make a gift to your chosen school or area.
- Become an advocate on our GiveCampus site.
- Spread the word to your network by posting on Facebook, Instagram, X, or LinkedIn.
News & Events
On Thursday, May 18, University of the Arts celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2023 during the university’s 145th Commencement with a unique blend of tradition, music and revelry. A total of 406 students received degrees during the ceremony, the last to be overseen by UArts’ President and CEO David Yager before his retirement in June.
Led by hardworking Philadelphia band Snacktime and Associate Professor of Fine Arts Mark Campbell, who served as the grand marshal, the procession of students, faculty and honored guests strode down Broad Street Thursday morning to the city’s celebrated Academy of Music, where family and supporters awaited its arrival. Once the graduates were seated, the university opened the proceedings with a new tradition recommended by the university’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee: the reading of a land acknowledgment that recognizes that UArts sits upon the ancestral homeland of the Lenape people.
The committee’s suggestions for enhancing Commencement also included a moving rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a hymn written by former NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900 that is widely regarded as the Black national anthem. It was performed by graduating seniors Shawn Bobien BM ’23 (Instrumental Performance) and Aaron Hill BM ’23 (Vocal Performance).
The university’s work in pursuit of a more inclusive campus was the focus of President Yager’s remarks, and he urged the graduating class to carry the ideals instilled within them during their time at UArts and to be catalysts who enact the change they wish to see in their world. He also invited Stephen Cirino, director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility to join him at the podium to present the university’s recently approved Inclusion and Diversity statement.
“Among the many accomplishments we have achieved as a community, through our shared values of compassion and collaboration, the incredible work we have engaged in to make University of the Arts a welcoming place for everyone is perhaps the most meaningful,” President Yager said. “Every person in this room, whether they are seated on stage, helping behind the scenes, or among our audience, has played a critical role in supporting the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Jeanne Dickenson BFA ’23 (Illustration) was selected to serve as this year’s valedictory speaker. Reflecting on identifying as the “art kid” during high school, Dickenson spoke at length about finding a community at UArts and the joy of entering the creative world with fellow graduates.
“There will be a day in the future when a prospective student is choosing which art school to attend. They’ll see us listed as the accomplished alumni of the University of the Arts, and that will be the deciding factor,” Dickenson said. “We have spent our time at this school looking to the future, and now we are the future. I look forward to what’s to come of all of us ‘creative kids.’”
The presentation of honorary degrees, a tradition that dates back centuries, continued at Commencement, and three influential figures were honored with Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees. This year, the university recognized alum, artist, curator and author Deborah Willis BFA ’75 (Photography) as well as Michael Forman and Jennifer Rice, the husband and wife team who founded the Forman Arts Initiative to support the Philadelphia region’s artists.
In addition, the university presented students and alumni with a number of awards. Nine students received the President’s Awards for Excellence in recognition of their academic and artistic excellence, each of which carries a $1,000 prize. Faculty members Krista Apple and Lauren Whearty also received distinguished teaching awards, which were presented by Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Graney.
Following a warm welcome from the Alumni Association delivered by Nijel Taylor BFA ’14 (Graphic Design), who is a creative director at New York–based strategy and design firm Siegel+Gale, Silver Star alumni awards were presented to Dotty Attie BFA ’59 (Art Education) and Clayton Reilly BM ’06 (Instrumental Performance), MAT ’21 (Music Education).
In typical UArts fashion, Commencement ended with the turning of the graduates’ tassels and an energetic performance by a samba band and dancers, who led the crowd back to Hamilton Hall. The sea of sequins, colors and carefully decorated mortarboards along Hamilton’s famous exterior staircase caused Philadelphians from all walks of life to stop along Broad Street and join the celebration. Spotted among them was former Philadelphia 76er Matisse Thybulle, who just happened to be riding by on his bike.
In recognition of her global contributions to dance, Donna Faye Burchfield, dean of University of the Arts’ School of Dance, was awarded the rank of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture. The recognition, one of the primary distinctions from France’s ministerial orders, is bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves through their creativity in the cultural realm and their dedication to advancing the distribution of arts and culture.
The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) was established by the Republic of France in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. The Order of Arts and Letters is awarded three times annually under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Culture. American recipients of the award include Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman.
“Traveling to France over the past three decades has shaped my career in profound ways,” Burchfield said. “The relationships I have formed there over the years have helped me to understand the great lessons bound up in lifelong, loving friendships in dance. I am humbled by this honor.”
“Collaborating with Donna Faye, sharing ideas, and learning from her experience in dance and education is as joyful as it is elevating. It makes you wish you were a student again, and students of Donna Faye are fortunate indeed,” said Gaëtan Bruel, director of Villa Albertine and Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States.
Donna Faye Burchfield, professor and dean of the School of Dance, arrived at University of the Arts in 2010. Before her arrival, she served as dean of the American Dance Festival (2000–2010) and professor of dance at Hollins University (1993–2010) in Virginia.
While at UArts, in 2019, she worked alongside Lauren Bakst to develop the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage–supported platform The School for Temporary Liveness, which premiered that fall at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. In summer 2018, she launched the university’s internationally situated MFA program in Montpellier, France, situated at the ICI-CCN (International Choreographic Institute). That was coupled with the inaugural Study Cycle, Dancing Politics, Moving Performance: Conversations at the Edges of Choreography, which took place at the CND (Centre National de la Danse) in Paris. She formed a three-year-long working relationship with the artistic staff at the Painted Bride Arts Center as an artistic advisor to guide the Bride’s 2016 Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia Project with support from the Pew Center. Returning to Seoul for the fourth time, she was a juror for the 2016 Seoul International Choreography Festival. She also served on the Dance/USA Philadelphia’s Advisory Committee and as co-chair for the national conference for Dance/USA (June 2013), and she co-chaired and hosted the Society for Dance History Scholars conference: Dance and the Social City (June 2012) at UArts. In May 2014, she received a distinguished honorary fellowship from Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel. The award is given to distinguished artists whose artistic and educational visions have made a remarkable contribution to the fields of music and dance. She was awarded the esteemed Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Award and endowed chair for distinguished teaching at the 2011 American Dance Festival (ADF) at Duke University. In 2006, she received the North Carolina School for the Arts Outstanding Teacher in Performance Award for contributions to the dance program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts and to the state of North Carolina.
While at Hollins, she authored and directed the Hollins MFA program in collaboration with the ADF (2006–2010). She also hosted the American College Dance Festival on two occasions and the 2008 Congress on Research in Dance conference: Dance Studies and Global Feminisms. She received the Hollins Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award for Distinguished Service in 2009.
She has worked generously across the U.S. and around the world as an educational leader in the field of dance, developing curriculum, managing international programs, and hiring and recruiting faculty, as well as leading national and international recruitment efforts. Her service to the field extends to decades of work on a multitude of panels and organizations around the globe in support of dance and students. Her in-depth work and teaching of dance in countries around the world include China, Hong Kong, England, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Tunisia, Italy and Cuba. She taught, managed, designed and curated the teaching platforms for the ADF International Linkages in Moscow (U.S. State Department supported, 2000), Seoul and Shanghai. Burchfield holds a BFA and an MFA from Texas Christian University, where she studied with Jerry Bywaters Cochran.
Jan. 27–April 20, 2024
Reception: Friday, Feb. 2, 5–7:30
Tuesday: by appointment
Wednesday–Friday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m.–5 p.m.
Philadelphia Art Alliance at UArts is proud to present (re)FOCUS: Mary Carlson, Karen Kilimnik, June Leaf, Ellen Lesperance, Helen O’Leary, Liliana Porter, and Ana Tiscornia, an important multi-generational group exhibit that features varied works that probe the human condition through singular images and handmade processes. No one style is represented here, but rather a panoply, with feminist and world political allusions, art historical references, wry appropriation, DIY bricolage, and craft sensibilities in a range of media. For Leaf, Lesperance, and O’Leary, this will be the first time they have been presented locally.
(re)FOCUS is an exciting and essential component of the important city-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts—a grassroots feminist project and one of the first large-scale surveys of the work of American women artists—which culminated in over 150 exhibitions, panels, lectures, workshops, and demonstrations.
Taken together, the personal historic mythologies and structures of these seven artists provide a compelling visual chronicle of the enormous strengths, diversity, politics, and subtle sensitivities of women working today.
(re)FOCUS was initiated and organized by Judith K. Brodsky, Diane Burko, and Marsha Moss. The exhibit at Philadelphia Art Alliance at University of the Arts was curated by Sid Sachs. A catalog for the entire city-wide project, Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts 1974–2004, with essays by Brodsky, Burko, Robert Cozzolino, Ruth Fine, Imani Roach, and Judith Stein, will be available.
About the Artists
Born in Wisconsin in 1951, Mary Carlson was educated at the School of Visual Arts.
Her early installations incorporated heraldic flags and natural history forms rendered in a variety of materials. Her more recent endeavors incorporate ceramic figures derived from Renaissance and medieval painting sources, such as those by Zubaran, Giotto, or Fra Angelico. Extracted from two-dimensional pictorial space, the intimate scale of her figurative sculptures and small grottoes are sensitively rendered in ethereal glazes, providing the observer with an uncanny psychological experience that is filled with an intense dynamic of residual yet tender content. Size in this case does not affect impact.
A Philadelphia native born in 1955, Karen Kilimnik first showed locally in 1986, only three blocks from the Art Alliance. Her witty and whimsical canvases are characterized by a hybrid sensibility blending romanticized versions of Old Masters, thrift shop Rococo, and fan magazines that create an enchanted fantasy world of glimmering delight and knowing innocence.
Her early work often utilized scattered images and theatrical environments that combined ornamental elements and glamorous props. These decorative concerns extend to today, through her use of spectacular glitter and faux gems adhered to the surfaces of her paintings. As one of the main artists responsible for the resurgence of figurative painting in the early 1990s, Kilimnik often developed semi-fictional characters or adopted pseudo-identities informed by fandom, collapsing fantasy and reality in on itself. By drawing on diverse sources, Kilimnik produced nuanced and playful pastiches of historical codes and symbols. Further, one can consider these charming masquerades as functional homages and adaptations of high and mass culture more than appropriations fueled by the theory of cultural exhaustion.
For over seven decades, June Leaf has created a visionary and carnivalesque realm of human experience via photographs; narrative drawings; paintings; and handmade, kinetic sculpture, all in active states of metamorphic flux. Often working simultaneously on paper, canvas, and metal, Leaf has invented an extensive personal canon of symbols and archetypes that may be comically funky or poignantly tragic, depending on the period in which the work was made.
Leaf was born in Chicago, studied at the Institute of Design (New Bauhaus), and became an influential source of Chicago Imagism. Along with Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, and others, Leaf became a model for the Monster Roster and, arguably, an early influence on Claes Oldenburg. She lived in Paris before moving in 1960 to New York, where she continues to live and work, along with spending summers in Nova Scotia.
Ellen Lesperance was born 1971 in Minneapolis. Her work often references the labor traditions and heritage of women fiberworkers in actual hand-knitted works and schematic paintings related to Bauhaus fabrics, Pattern and Decoration painting, and the body. As such, she revisits and empowers the legacies of generations of anonymous women who toiled in practices that were once neglected as culturally insignificant, but are vital to our culture. Her clay Tanagra figures also have a feminist bent that pay homage to Amazon warriors and contemporary feminist activists such as Yevgenia Isayeva, Pussy Riot, and Pipilotti Rist.
Irish-born Helen O’Leary’s mysterious ramshackle assemblages are cobbled-together amalgams of support and subsistence. Reconfiguring armatures from found wood, O’Leary’s works are stuccoed over with handmade paints scavenged from specific locales that reveal their transcendental histories like minimalist arte povera icons. Blurring the boundaries between object and image and construction and restoration, they refashion studio castoffs into elegiac stoic abstractions bearing echoes of a poignant past. Her constructions repair the wounds of entropy and are hopeful and conciliatory.
Liliana Porter was born in Argentina in 1941. She studied in Mexico City and Buenos Aires before moving in 1964 to New York City, where she co-founded the New York Graphic Workshop with Luis Camnitzer and José Guillermo Castillo. Ten years later in Italy, she co-founded the Studio Camnitzer, an artist’s residence studio near Lucca. She also taught at the Porter-Wiener Studio, the Printmaking Workshop, State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase, SUNY at Old Westbury, and Queens College. Beyond printmaking, Porter has worked in a wide variety of media, including painting, drawing, video, theater, and public art. Her innovations often employ drawn abstract lines with concrete imagery.
In installations, Porter often uses toys or decorative figurines, the interactions among which insinuate dark foibles of power. The photographs shown at the Art Alliance, for example, use ceramic avatars as surrogates to explore the human condition. Do not be misled by her borderline kitsch—in those documents, she elegantly balances chaos with the need for order.
Ana Tiscornia was born in Uruguay in 1951. Influenced by an uncle who was an architect, Tiscornia studied architecture in Montevideo. During repressive military dictatorships, she discovered an engraving school, the officially sanctioned meetings of which allowed her to discuss political ideas and develop her style.
In 1986, Tiscornia won prizes at the 2nd Biennial in Havana and the 34th Municipal Salon in Montevideo, and earned a scholarship to study at the Académie de Paris. Emigrating from Uruguay to New York City in 1991, she built on her growing sense of Latin identity and explored her complicated familiarities with dictatorships and emigration while questioning humankind’s place in the urban environment.
After turning to curating and teaching in 1996, she is now professor emeritus at SUNY College at Old Westbury and currently lives in New York. Her recent constructions reference deconstructed architectural ruins, and by implication, political upheavals in her native country. They are installed on walls and are stark and timely evocations of pandemonium and repair, disaster, and despair. Though informed by personal experiences, these works unfortunately now seem broadly prescient to the tragic images we see daily from the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.
Tiscornia and Porter have collaborated extensively in videos and public installations including Untitled with Sky, a permanent installation at the MTA Scarborough Metro North Rail Station, New York. Their joint exhibitions include works at Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York, New York; Galería del Paseo, Manantiales, Uruguay; Galería Beatriz Gil, Caracas, Venezuela; Galería del Paseo, Manantiales, Uruguay; Galería Casas Riegner, Bogotá, Colombia; Point of Contact Gallery, Syracuse, New York; and Georgia State University, Atlanta.
Laurie Wagman Recording Studios
These state-of-the-art facilities are dedicated to exploring all facets of music production including composition, sound design, digital and analog recording, mixing and mastering.
UArts is reimagining the arts university experience. In addition to the distinct opportunity to study outside your major and in Philadelphia’s vibrant cultural center, we’re breaking new ground for creative exploration, expression and learning, year after year.
Rentals at UArts
Host your next event in the heart of Center City on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts. Discover our unique venues and facilities and treat your guests to a one-of-a-kind experience.
#UArtist is a celebration of the boundless creativity of the UArts community. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are welcome to share their work with us via Instagram by including #uartist.
Equal Opportunities and Nondiscrimination at UArts
In order to create the conditions necessary for human creativity to flourish, University of the Arts is committed to fostering individual and artistic integrity and inclusion by promoting and respecting self-expression, a wide range of ideas, and diversity in all of its forms. UArts does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, and family medical or genetic information, in any of its programs, activities or employment and admission practices.
Questions and complaints pertaining to UArts’ commitment to its nondiscrimination policies and its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility initiatives can be directed to the director for Title IX, equity and compliance at 215-717-6362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.