Graduate Fine Arts

Posted April 30, 2020
  • Jessi Ali Lin, 'Untitled (Still Life Construction on See Saw)'

  • Valentina Soto, 'Frágil sumario de la historia natural de las indias (A Fragile Natural History of the Indes)'

Two Weitzman MFA Students Awarded Fellowships by the Dedalus Foundation

Each year the Dedalus Foundation awards Master of Fine Arts Fellowships in Painting and Sculpture to four artists who are completing their graduate studies at MFA programs from across the United States. This year two of the four artists, Jessi Ali Lin and Valentina Soto, are from Weitzman’s Department of Fine Arts.

“That two of the four winners went to Weitzman students is a testament to the superbness of the MFA program and the high calibre of students that make up the MFA cohort in Fine Arts,” says Ken Lum, the Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor and chair of fine arts,

Created by the great modernist painter Robert Motherwell (1915–1991) in 1981, the Dedalus Foundation is one of the leading artist-endowed foundations in the United States. Beyond its work promoting the legacy of Motherwell, the Foundation supports a number of community organizations committed to arts education. In 2009, the Foundation awarded a Fellowship to Penn alum Antonio McAfee (MFA’09).

Jessi Ali Lin was born in Taiwan and came to the United States as a teenager. Her work combines performance, the language of Minimalist sculpture, and her Taiwanese-American identity to “create seemingly unobtrusive situations that allow people to heighten their awareness.” For Lin, the "politeness of minimalism" runs parrallel with the expectations she encounters as a Taiwanese-American woman. This pairing can manifest itself in her work to a degree where, as she put it, "everything is very still and in control to a point that it suggests suffocation."

Valentina Soto was born and raised in Santiago de Chile and came to the United States to study at Penn. She creates clay and plaster sculptures that examine how the histories of exploitation of natural resources, colonization and current sociopolitical conditions can be understood and conveyed through art. Her work often draws on the writings and research of early ethnologists, naturalists, and archeologists who documented life in the Americas during the Spanish conquest.