On Saturday June 21 and Sunday, June 22, Philadelphians crowded Manayunk’s historic Main Street and sat outside of restaurants, discussing artistry and
300 artists showcased their artwork at the 25th annual Manayunk Arts Festival, hosted by the Manayunk Development Corporation. One of the emerging artists at the festival was recent Tyler graduate, Alexis Kurtzman.
Kurtzman earned her BFA in printmaking last month where, according to Kurtzman, she had some of her most defining moments developing her craft.
At the age of 9, Kurtzman started taking art lessons and it soon became a hobby. She then started building a college portfolio of art while she was in high school.
Kurtzman applied to Temple, first as a journalism major, until she realized that she wanted to pursue art.
“I’ll miss the all-nighters in the studio,” said Kurtzman when recalling her time at Tyler. “I felt like I was very in my element.”
Helping her grow were faculty members that pushed her, as well as and her peers. Despite the competitive nature of the art industry, Kurtzman said she met some of her best friends at Tyler. Some of whom helped her with her career by contributing graphic designs for her website.
“Don’t compare your work with others,” Kurtzman said. “They’re your friends. They’ll be there when you get out of college. They’re there to help you.”
Her interest in Baroque and Rococo styles, as well as weaponry, inspired her junior year thesis.
Her interest in weaponry was so strong that she bought an antique military book from the Paley library that she was told hadn’t been checked out in 35 years.
“I was really into weapons and that book was definitely a source of inspiration for me,” she said.
According to Kurtzman, her peek in her college career was when she studied abroad in Rome as a senior. She described it as one of her best experiences at Temple and left her more driven as an artist.
“It was incredible seeing European art up close and it definitely pushed me,” Kurtzman said.
Since graduation, she has showcased her work in three solo shows, including the Manayunk Arts Festival. She got in touch with the festival through her professor who told students about there being spots open in the Arts Festival through Facebook. After paying her fee, she found herself sitting under the Emerging Artists tent with her mother, showing her prints to hundreds of people.
“I like when people ask me about it. I like when people take a personal interest in how I did it,” said Kurtzman, in reference to her printmaking.
She said she is sentimentally attached to everything she creates, which she does by scratching out images using a needle point on her prints, most of which are a combination of hand drawn and photographic imagery.
“I feel like they’re my children, like they’re a part of me,” Kurtzman said.
Among the 300 other artists, the show hosted returning vendors as well as emerging participants like Kurtzman.
One of the vendors, Marie-Pierre Pulcini, a French jewelry maker, said she saw a lot of returning customers this year. According to Pulcini, the venue has changed in the last two years because more families and college students come by and have less money to spend.
“I know it is more difficult for people to buy things because of the economy, but I still love to talk to the students and grow with them,” Pulcini said.
According to Public Relations and Events Coordinator Shannon Geddes, the festival claimed the title of being the region’s largest outdoor-juried arts festival again this year.
Sharnita Midgett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org