With an unmatched passion for the arts, one local painter and Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts president dishes on her goals for the nonprofit and upcoming solo exhibition.
Sosson’s new show takes inspiration from nature, particularly birds
From the summer of 11th grade through college, Philly native Barbara Sosson (artsoss.com) studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). However, it was her love for Photoshop and design, in addition to business and art exhibition skills, that secured her the role as the president and treasurer of the Fellowship of PAFA (fellowshippafa.org)—an independent, nonprofit alumni incorporated organization. Sosson shares, “The academy has been a part of my whole life. I also earned my living with them when they were one of my major [printing] accounts from age 27 to 67, so serving their alumni just makes sense, and I have the skills to do it.” Now, under the stewardship of Sosson, the fellowship is growing tremendously with new initiatives like virtual alumni art shows, free memberships and a growing art collection. “When I started, we had 79 people on our artist contact list. Now we have 800,” she says.
“Chills” (2022, oil and glitter on canvas).
Outside of her role as Fellowship of PAFA president, the artist’s main focus is her painting career—particularly a new show, Sensuous Shapes & Mimicry, running from Feb. 4 to 25 at Gross McCleaf Gallery. “The paintings have images of exotic birds (like South African guinea fowl). I’m building on the idea of the animal mimicry of nature, so the bird patterns are picked up in the abstract design around them,” she notes. Her inspiration? The natural environment near her suburban studio and Philadelphia home, as well as her love of birds. “I love nature, and even though I live in the city, I have tons of birds because we’re right near Fairmount Park,” Sosson says. “My studio is also right near a canal, and when I walk along the canal, the little ducks and the geese come right up to my feet.” Drawing on her strong connection to the natural world, and the fowl that inhabit it, art lovers can anticipate an immersive, vibrant show this month—during the opening, sounds of exotic bird chirps will bring each work to life.