PHILADELPHIA—Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) graduates Billy and Steven Dufala, known as artists as The Dufala Brothers, were awarded this year’s prestigious West Prize, given by the West Collection of Oaks, PA.
The West Prize received 3,600 applicants from across the country, from which ten finalists were chosen based on how they would fit, foster, challenge, and stretch the West Collection, which is on long term loan to SEI Investments, the firm Al West started 35 years ago. Al West and his daughter, curator Paige West, have built the collection over a ten year period with the mission of meeting young artists who are creating challenging and inventive work and presenting an experience of this new art to the public. From the ten finalists, The Dufala Brothers were chosen as winners of a cash prize of $25,000. The winning art which will now be a part of the West Collection is Ice Cream Truck/Tank (9’ x 8’ x 14’), a rebuilt grummonds bread truck, outfitted as an attack vehicle that serves ice cream.
The Dufala Brothers’ West prize continues an ongoing, award-winning trend for PAFA graduates: MFA graduate and installation artist Constantina Zavitsanos was named one of nine winners of the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial 2008-2009 Wind Challenge prize; sculptor Jordan Griska was named one of fourteen recipients of the International Sculpture Center’s 2008 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards; painters Anne Seidman and Mauro Zamora were two of twelve artists awarded $60,000 Pew Fellowships in the Arts in 2008; and in 2007, MFA graduates Stephanie Beck and Andrew Patterson-Tutschka, were two of fifteen recipients of the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, each receiving a grant in the amount of $15,000. The Academy was the only school of fine arts in the country where two of its students were given this national award in the same year.
Both Dufala brothers graduated from PAFA’s Certificate Program. Billy Blaise Dufala graduated in 2003 with a Sculpture major. At the Academy he was awarded the Cresson Travel Scholarship, Valley National Gases Prize, The Alexander Prize, and Philadelphia Mayor's Award. Steven Dufala graduated in 2000 with a Printmaking major. He has been awarded PAFA’s Cuff/Sammak Prize for Abstract Painting, the Wolf Scholarship in Honor of Peter Paone, and the John R. Conner Printmaking Prize.
States PAFA’s Curator of Contemporary Art Julien Robson, “The success of the Dufala Brothers is great for the artists and for Philadelphia. It shows how vibrant our contemporary art scene is. We should be very proud of these two PAFA alumni.”
The Dufala Brothers’ first solo exhibition, Trophy, is on view at the Fleisher/Olllman gallery through March 28, 2009. Additionally, the Dufala Brothers will be teaching a forthcoming course at PAFA on found material techniques, which will explore alternative methods to traditional art making practice, using Philadelphia’s abandoned material as a basis for students’ new work.
In 2007/2008, the Dufala Brothers won the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial Wind Challenge prize. At the 2005 Fringe Festival, the brothers designed and orchestrated a toilet tricycle race, citing “14 toilet tricycles, 12 city blocks, 5-1/2 minutes.” On their website (http://dufalabrothers.com/
) they state, “Where we are now is making work that reflects our own individual sensibilities, an ongoing dialogue that ultimately results in work that challenges us as much as it may challenge a viewer, or an idea about what art is, or what art can be. Are 20 people riding tricycles fashioned from reclaimed toilets through the city art? Yes, we think so.”
On January 30, 2008, bloggers and reviewers Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof of artblog
) noted, “Brothers and collaborators Billy Blaise Dufala and Steven Dufala have to be the two most unlikely PAFA grads ever. Their surprising art [is] about the world around us—the homeless, bad taste and inflated lawn ornaments, the beauty of tools, and the dehumanization of the medical system and the body.”
About the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America's first school of fine arts and museum. A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts presented by the President of the United States, PAFA is a recognized leader in fine arts education. Nearly every major American artist has taught, studied, or exhibited at the Academy. The institution's world-class collection of American art continues to grow and provides what only a few other art institutions in the world offer: the rare combination of an outstanding museum and an extraordinary faculty known for its commitment to students and for the stature and quality of its artistic work.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Academy is located at 118-128 N. Broad Street in Philadelphia. Admission to the Permanent Collection is Adults $10, Seniors & Students with I.D. $8, Youth ages 5-18, $6. Admission to Special Exhibitions (includes Permanent Collection) is Adults $15, Seniors & Students with I.D. $12, Youth Ages 5-18, $8. Admission is free for members and children under age of 5. Admission to Morris Gallery exhibitions is free.