Professor Emerita of Art
Virginia Maksymowicz (“Prof. Maks”) is an artist who, in addition to courses in sculpture, drawing, papermaking and printmaking, taught First Year Seminars, Connections I and the Senior Capstone for studio art majors. She retired from teaching in 2018 and now holds the title of Professor Emerita.
Prof. Maks received a B.A. in Fine Arts from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and an M.F.A. in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego. She also spent a year studying figurative sculpture at the Brooklyn Museum Art School.
While living in New York, she worked for two years as an artist for the Cultural Council Foundation’s Artists Project. This position was funded by the federal government under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), which from 1974 to 1981 employed 20,000 arts workers nationwide. It was the largest such project since the Works Progress Administration.
She also spent three years as Executive Director of Amos Eno Gallery, a small nonprofit art space, then in Soho, and three years as Articles Editor for Art&Artists newspaper, published by the Foundation for the Community of Artists.
Before coming to F&M, Prof. Maks taught at Oberlin College, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Wayne State University, and the Moore College of Art and Design. At F&M she served as a member of the Exhibitions Advisory, Mueller and Honorary Degree committees (notably awarding a Doctorate of Fine Arts to Christo & Jeanne-Claude), as chair of the Common Hour Committee, director of the Conrad Nelson visiting artist program, and chair of the Art & Art History Deparment. She acted as faculty advisor to the John Newman Association and to the Art Club. Outside of F&M, Prof. Maks served on the Advisory Board of the M.F.A. Studio Art program at Moore College of Art, and on the Professional Practices Committee of the College Art Association.
In addition to class time, Prof. Maks could often be found in the old Herman Arts building working diligently alongside her students on special projects. These resulted in sculptural installations across the F&M campus, including one in the Kneedler Sculpture Garden and another hanging in the atrium of Barshinger Life Sciences. There were also special Introductory Sculpture and Trash Art shows at the College Center and at the Wohlsen Center, and First-Year Seminar exhibits at Brooks College House and New Street Studios.
Although she is no longer regularly in the classroom, she continues to interact with students in a variety of capacities: Zooming with current fummers, giving tours of sculpture parks for alumni, or presenting lectures and workshops at colleges around the country.
In addition, she maintains an active artistic practice from her studio in West Philadelphia. Her work has been shown at the Franklin Furnace, Alternative Museum, Elizabeth Foundation, Grey Gallery and MoMA/Library in New York City, as well as in college, university and nonprofit galleries throughout the U.S. and abroad. In the fall of 2016, a solo exhibition, “Architectural Overlays,” was on display at SACI Gallery in Florence, Italy.
Locally, her sculptures have been shown at the Michener Museum, the Woodmere Museum, the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts and the Delaware Art Museum. In April of 2022, her sculptural installation, Tools of the Trade, was dedicated at William H. Gray (an F&M alumnus!) Amtrak Station in Philadelphia. In the fall of 2023, “The Lightness of Bearing” — a major solo exhibition — was mounted at the High Street Gallery of Rowan University.
Prof. Maks is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in sculpture and grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Leeway Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Art. Her artwork has been reviewed in Sculpture, The New York Times, New York Newsday, The New Art Examiner, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Artblog. Her series, The History of Art, appears on the cover of The Female Body, published by the University of Michigan Press (1991).
She also writes about art, having published articles in Leonardo Magazine, Hyperallergic and Sculpture, and chapters in books by the University of Chicago Press, the International Sculpture Center, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation/Chesterwood.
She has been a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome (three times), an artist-in-residence at the Powel House Museum in Philadelphia and Surry Arts in Maine, and a fellow at the Vermont Studio Center.
Prof. Maks is also engaged in a major research effort in which F&M plays an important role. An initiative called “The CETA Arts Legacy Project” has brought together a nationwide coalition of artists, administrators and government officials who are working to preserve the history of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act’s support of the arts. In connection with this project, Prof. Maks has been working with both library and IT staff to create a digital archive of research materials openly accessible to scholars. This archive is housed at the college.