Kati Hellmer '19 outside the PAFA Museum. Kati Hellmer '19 outside the PAFA Museum.

Artworks by Sarofim School of Fine Arts alumnae Kati Hellmer ’19 and Sophia Anthony ’19 were recently chosen by a jury for the Crosscurrents exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), America’s first museum and art school. The exhibition, which opened in early December, highlights the work of advanced undergraduate artists and recent alumni from peer institutions around the country. Hellmer and Anthony are among 27 artists from 18 schools nationwide to have their art featured in the gallery this year.

Hellmer attended the Crosscurrents exhibition on December 12, 2019, and was granted the Jerry Wind prize for the selected works from her Indices in Ultramarine series. Compiled of monochromatic paintings and documentary photographs, the series explores the relationship between contemporary art and the environment and challenges the ideas of 20th-century artist Yves Klein. Hellmer explains that while “Klein stated that his works ‘impregnate space’ and possess their own unique immaterial qualities,” her paintings in turn argue that “artworks are more significantly influenced by their environment.”

Kati Hellmer's Indices in Ultramarine series presented at Southwestern's 2019 Research and Creati... Kati Hellmer's Indices in Ultramarine series presented at Southwestern's 2019 Research and Creative Works Symposium.

Hellmer’s process for creating the series included painting panels with Klein’s patented “International Klein Blue” and setting them facedown, while still wet, onto surfaces in various predetermined environments. Hellmer took photographs of each panel in its environment before pressing it into the surface as well as of the impression on the wet panel. The photographs are presented alongside the panels as representation of the “visual evidence of both the effect of an environment onto an artwork and the unpredictability of an artwork’s reception depending on such an environment,” Hellmer says. 

Sophia Anthony's Lineup series. Sophia Anthony's Lineup series.

Works from Anthony’s series Lineup, first presented in her senior exhibition at the Sarofim School of Fine Arts, also captured the attention of the PAFA jury. Making reference to booking photographs, the portraits bring into focus the practice and suggestive nature of mugshots and aim to incite meaningful conversation around internment and the justice system. “Despite a presumption of innocence, a booking photograph can seemingly indict the subject in the eyes of the viewer,” Anthony says. Her process of painstakingly recreating the images in the style of 19th-century aristocratic, honorific portraiture presents a new way of viewing the subjects, removing the assumptive lens of guilt and offering them a sense of dignity.

The Sarofim School of Fine Arts is incredibly proud of our outstanding alumnae and congratulates them on their recent honors. The Crosscurrents exhibition is on display in the Walter & Leonore Annenberg Gallery Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building at the PAFA through January 19, 2020.