Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)
Ben Volta (Certificate '02) creates intricate public murals and sculptures, working at the intersection of education, restorative justice, and urban planning. His practice stands on the belief that art can be a catalyst for change, within individuals as well as the institutional structures that surround them.
His exhibition in the Alumni Gallery at PAFA will draw from multiple projects created with students and recently incarcerated youth throughout the city. These projects use a collaborative drawing process to generate complex wholes that are more than the sum of their parts.
Installations like “We Are All Neurons” and “Celestial Cascade” combine biological forms like neurons and plant life into visual ecosystems. “Amplify” takes human-created forms—architectural ornaments, wheels, chandeliers—and uses them to express music, exposing their inner harmonies; “Frequencies” takes a direct look at the abstract geometric patterns that fascinate and animate our brains. “Micro to Macro” explores the interplay of all these levels of pattern: from abstract geometry, through atoms and cells, to plants and planets.
The murals incorporate this layering process within their physical material on as many levels as possible: site, scale, line, color, and collage. These formal considerations are underwritten with conceptual concerns that explore layers of social, historical and political context. The interplay between intention and chance—pattern and improvisation—underlies all stages of the process.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website