New Digital Collections

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

The Archives is happy to announce that staff have recently completed organizing and uploading two new digital collections.

The first digital collection of 627 photographs are part of the Alumni Gallery photographs. The photographs document the exhibition openings for 10 alumni gallery exhibitions from 2011-2014. The Alumni Gallery exhibits works by alumni from all of PAFA’s matriculating programs. Located within the Historic Landmark Building, the Alumni Gallery offers a contemporary view of PAFA’s longstanding traditions in art-making and is always free and open to the public.

Inaugural exhibition opening reception for PAFA’s Alumni Gallery, 2011.

The second digital collection is the Annual Student Exhibition and Graduation photographs which consists of 9498 photographs. The collection documents various year end events for students, specifically the Annual Student Exhibition; Preview Party; public opening; award and prize ceremony; luncheon; graduation and commencement ceremony; as well as alumni reunion party.

Graduating class of 2016
Family and friends attending 104th Annual Student Exhibition after graduation ceremony, 2005.

More information about PAFA’s Alumni Gallery and Annual Student Exhibition can be found in the online resources section (School History).

#Flashback Friday – Alumni Spotlight: Donald Erik Chandler

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

Donald Erik Chandler (1922-2005) was a creative artist who had a long professional career creating some of America’s most iconic characters.

Before becoming an artist, Chandler proudly served in the United States Navy during World War II. After he was honorably discharged on December 18, 1945, he applied to numerous art schools including the Corcoran School of Arts and Design in Washington D.C. and San Francisco State College.

Student academic file for Donald E. Chandler, RG.03.03.02, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Archives

Almost two years after being discharged, Chandler applied to and was granted enrollment to PAFA with the support of the GI Bill. At PAFA, Chandler studied sculpture and went on to win the Stewardson Sculpture Competition Prize in 1949.

Donald E. Chandler’s 1949 Stewardson Sculpture Competition Prize

After completing his training at PAFA, Chandler began his career as a technical illustrator to work on America’s Apollo program. Perhaps Chandler’s most notable and recognizable contribution was actually in the American film industry 25 years after leaving PAFA. His first big break was his 25 foot sculpture of a great white shark for the 1975 Steven Spielberg film Jaws. The following year, Chandler with a team of sculptors created a 40 foot tall King Kong sculpture used in the film. Other pop culture characters include his assistance on creating the Pillsbury Doughboy and characters for McDonalds–the Hamburglar, Grimmace, Mayor McCheese, Officer Big Mac, Captain Crook, the Fry Guys and the Hamburger Patch.

After Chandler’s death in 2005, his family made a contribution to name a school studio in honor of his memory. Even after all these years, his legacy still lives on here at PAFA in studio #1018. Thadius Taylor, a BFA + Certificate student is currently using the space to create art.

Don Chandler’s second cousin, Jeff Chandler, reached out to PAFA’s archives a few years ago to start the research process of compiling Chandler’s biographical information. Jeff recently published a short story about the artist’s personal and professional life and donated a copy of the book to the archives. Those interested in reading the book should contact the archives or you can access the digital copy here.

The “Genius” Alumna

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

PAFA Alumna Njideka Akunyili Crosby was announced as one of the winners of the prestigious 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, otherwise known as the “Genius Grant.” In honor of the award, PAFA has hung her monumental two panel work, I Always Face You, Even When it Seems Otherwise. Now on View in the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building at PAFA.



It took extra hands to hang such a large work. Our Team consisted of Liz McDermott, Michael Gibbons, Mark Knobelsdorf, and myself.

The MacArthur fellowships are awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to extraordinarily creative people who inspire the masses.