TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image
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Celebrating 10 Years of PPAC

September 12, 2020

Philadelphia Photos Art Center (PPAC) is celebrating double digits in 2020, marking 10 years of cutting-edge creative programming, advancing the practice of photography, and supporting artists, locally and from around the globe.

“When we started PPAC, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I knew certain things of importance to the mission: to create access to resources for artists and to engage in conversation and education,” said Sarah Stolfa, PPAC founder, president, CEO, and artistic director. “We’ve exceeded our expectations and my expectations of the organization.”

The nonprofit organization has grown in many ways over the course of 10 years: the number of classes per semester ballooned from three to the current 22; PPAC now boasts up to seven exhibitions a year, up from four; and participants of the Artist Residency program receive a stipend and material cost, providing a transformative experience that enriches the individual artist.

PPAC currently serves 700 students and has had 42 successful exhibitions since its inception.

Marovo by Nazhua Tairi

Programs that have lasted throughout the 10-year-run include the artist lab, continuing educational programs, free exhibitions, and the annual Contemporary Photography Competition and Exhibition, which has shown work from artists like Sasha Phyars-Burgess and Guanyu Xu.

La Donna by Sabine Ostinvil

PPAC has also grown physically, expanding its reach to a wider community. In 2009, PPAC opened with 1,800 square feet and has since expanded to 8,000 square feet, which allowed the organization to add additional services like mounting and framing as well as an additional classroom, the hallway gallery, and the community room.

“Our biggest accomplishment is being true to our mission and to the idea of meeting people where they are in terms of engaging in the arts and developing projects and programs that go out into the community to bring people into our space,” Sarah said.

PPAC’s talented and inspiring community includes alumni Adina Diaz and Nazhua Tairi, who now own their own photography businesses; Sabine Ostinvil and Naomieh Jovin, whose work have been exhibited at The African American Museum in Philadelphia; and Brent Reaney who used the Contemporary Practices Photography Certificate postbaccalaureate program to further his craft by applying for graduate school in Texas.

As part of its 10-year anniversary celebrations, PPAC is featuring creative works by alumni of the Teen Photo program, who shared their work for Ten Years: Teen Photo Alumni Exhibition, which runs through May 2. The 28 local artists shared how creativity manifested in their lives and through their photography.

Teen Photo is a free eight-month program open to all Philadelphia public high school students, which expanded from just eight students to the 60 students now enrolled. This program has now served 225 Philadelphia high school students since it began a decade ago.

In another 10 years, founder Sarah said she sees PPAC offering the same core program to a wider audience with more students and artists in residence.

“We’d also like to organize and implement more large-scale community engagement projects on an annual basis, like the Philly Block Project and the Women’s Mobile Museum,” Sarah said.

PPAC invites you to join in celebrating its 10 years throughout the run of Ten Years: Teen Photo Alumni Exhibition, and you are also invited to join on April 30 for ENVISION, PPAC’s signature gala on the 27th floor of the Comcast Technology Center. The fundraising event features dinner, a silent auction, and a special awards ceremony honoring Lynne Honickman and Stuart Rome.

Teenage Fever, Teen Photo 2017-18
The Block, 2016

Also available for purchase during ENVISION will be a limited-edition portfolio presenting 10 prints by 10 artists who have created, collaborated, studied, and taught at PPAC over the past decades.