March Members Show with Thora Jacobson

Da Vinci Art Alliance is honored to welcome Thora Jacobson as the juror of our April Members Show. Thora has been uniquely influential in guiding the evolution of the Philadelphia art scene and continues to share her wealth of knowledge and passion with our community. Thora directed the Fleisher Art Memorial from 1983-2010, opening The Center for Works on Paper, expanding Fleisher’s program offerings, and overseeing improvements to the historic building. She then brought her talents to Philagrafika, an organization intent on increasing opportunities for working artists, particularly printmakers. Today, Thora helms the Philadelphia Art Alliance and continues to foster contemporary local artists while forging connections between art and the greater Philadelphia community.

We asked Thora to give us insight into her jurying process and personal reflections about art in Philadelphia.

Da Vinci Art Alliance: Do you follow any universal criteria when judging an exhibition?

Thora Jacobson: It is perilous to apply universal criteria to works of art made in a wide variety of media, but I do value work that is clear in its intent - whether representational, abstract or conceptual. By that, I don't mean that a work of art has to be obvious, but work that will stand on its own and hold my attention, with or without clever titles or didactic labels. I also respond to work that is distinctive, original, and well made. In the case of DVAA, I am familiar with a number of the members, and I will look for them to have sustained the quality and clarity of their practice, and pushed it further. At the same time, I am looking forward to seeing work by artists I don't know and making their acquaintance.

DVAA: While jurying this show, what specifically captured your attention?

TJ: What I particularly enjoyed about scanning the work for awards and special mention was the number of pieces that I kept returning to. I spent far more time that I thought I would looking at the show and I was impressed with the strength of the "non-paintings." The photographs and mixed media work were, in most cases, every bit as strong as the painted work and appealing because they had an element of surprise in them.

Of the work that I responded to most positively, I found that they were "complete sentences,” to borrow from a grammarian's vocabulary, direct, straightforward, and confident.

DVAA: Having watched art in Philadelphia evolve, what excites you about the current moment and what do you hope to see from the future of Philadelphia art?

TJ: I have seen all kinds of art over the course of my career with particular interest in printmaking, public art and, now, contemporary craft and design. All of these modalities are evolving rapidly thanks to technology, permeable boundaries, social evolution and cultural and political revolution. Artists can and should use everything at their disposal to think about the world we share and plumb the truth of their personal and shared experience in their response.


We thank Thora for her insight and myriad contributions to our shared artistic community and our members for their continued commitment to their craft, our organization, and the arts. We invite you to come see this members show on display now until Sunday, April 24th!