The Class of 2019: Zach Hill, MFA ’19

The Class of 2019: Zach Hill, MFA ’19

While chatting candidly on his way to Penn’s campus, Zach Hill brings up his family. He and his four siblings, he says, each have their own “thing.” There’s a social worker, an occupational therapist, a businessman, and a skateboard tricker.

Hill’s passion? Without a doubt, he says, is art.

“It’s what I’ve always done, it’s always been my thing,” he says. “I feel lucky to still be doing it.”

Hill, who grew up in Lawrence, Kan., joined Penn’s School of Design last year to pursue his Master of Fine Arts. An interdisciplinary artist, he uses sculpture, video, performance, drawing, and installation to construct storylines that evolve into narrative environments.

He’s fallen in love with Philadelphia’s art community, which he describes as “exciting, fresh, and more accessible than a city like New York or Los Angeles,” and at PennDesign, he’s appreciated—most of all—the artist-development work that’s been offered.

Hill, who upon his acceptance to PennDesign received the Robert and Susan Heidenberg Endowed Fellowship, was awarded this year the Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, an art residency program that the University sends two students to every summer. Talking graciously, Hill says the opportunity allowed him to take what he learned during his first year at Penn and really focus on producing a lot of quality work.

“You basically have a month in a giant studio with nothing else to do,” he says. “It was such an amazing experience.”

As far as his future, Hill says it’s a dream to be able to continue producing art, as well as teach it. A teaching assistant for various courses, he notes how excited he already gets being able to watch students grow.

Zach Hill is a 2018-19 recipient of the Robert and Susan Heidenberg Endowed Fellowship, which provides financial support to a graduate student at PennDesign. Students entering the final year of their professional program will be eligible for the Fellowship. Hill also received support from the Halpern-Rogath Fine Arts Traveling Fellowship, which provides selected fine arts students with funding to allow them to travel nationally and internationally to exhibitions, museums, and art centers.