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Notable Alumni: Women's History Month

This page was created specifically to honor a few of the many notable women UArts alumni that have passed through our halls.

Although the artists on this page are featured year round in our Notable Alumni guide, we proudly highlight the artists on this page in conjunction with Women's History Month.

Featured UArtists on this page go as far back as 1898 to as recently as 2021. 

We hope you enjoy exploring UArts history!








Janice Berenstain (1923-2012)

PMSIA Class of 1945

Writer, Illustrator

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 1998.

Janice Grant was born in Philadelphia in 1923, as was her future husband, Stanley Berenstain. They met on the first day of art school at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941, and married in 1946. They both enjoyed cartooning and, soon after they married, they began submitting cartoons to magazines. The Saturday Evening Post and Collier's regularly published their cartoons, and they produced the comic strip Sister from 1953 through 1955. The first book featuring the Berenstain Bears family, The Big Honey Hunt, was published in 1962. Stan and Jan went on to write and illustrate more than 250 books featuring the Berenstain Bears; more than 260 million of these books have been sold over the years. Their sons, Michael and Leo, have also helped illustrate many of the books. The Bear family is featured in many children's museum exhibits including a permanent one at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

- Silver Star Alumni Award Exhibition, paraphrased

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collections








Jeannine Cook

UArts Class of 2005, BFA, Communications.

UArts Class of 2014, MFA, Art Education.

Writer, Educator, Bookstore Owner

UArts Alumni Service Award, 2023.

Jeannine Cook was born in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to the BFA and MFA Cook received from the University of the Arts, she also earned an MFA at Drexel University. In 2020 Cook published her first book of short stories and opened Harriett's Bookshop in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. In 2021 she opened Ida's Bookshop in Collingswood, NJ. Her stated goal for both of these establishments is to highlight and celebrate women authors, artists, and activists.

Image Source: University of the Arts








Teneise Mitchell Ellis

UArts Class of 2005, BFA, Jazz Dance

Stella Moore Prize for Four-Year Achievement, 2005.

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 2019.

Teneise Mitchell Ellis was born in Chesapeake, Virginia. After graduating from the University of the Arts, Ellis has danced with artists and companies such as Philadanco, Camille A. Brown, and Beyoncé as well as for shows including Saturday Night Live, Radio City Rockettes and Wicked the Musical.

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collections








Kate Flannery

UArts Class of 1987, BFA, Acting


Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, The Office, 2006.

Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, The Office, 2007.

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 2013.

UArts Unleashed Alumni Award for Excellence in the Arts, 2024.

Kate Flannery was born in Philadelphia. After graduating from the University of the Arts, Flannery worked in stage comedy with The Second City and other companies as well as performing solo and collaborative shows. She began working in film and television and was cast as Meredith Palmer in the hit NBC show The Office in 2005, a role for which she won two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Flannery has continued to act in a large number of films and television shows including Steven UniverseOK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes and Young Sheldon among others.

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collections








Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968)

PMSIA Class of 1898, Diploma and Teaching Certificate

Painter, Poet, Sculptor, Theater Designer

Honorable Mention, Mrs. George K. Crozer Prize, for the best work in modelling (sculpture), 1898.

Mrs. George K. Crozer Prize ($20.00) for the best work in modelling (sculpture), 1899.

First Prize, Mr. H. H. Battles Prize ($25.00) for a jardiniere, 1904.

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was born in Philadelphia in 1877. She attended Girls' High School, where one of her art projects was selected to be shown at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. As a result of this recognition she won a four-year scholarship to PMSIA. After graduation, she traveled to Paris where she was mentored by Henry Ossawa Tanner, became lifelong friends with W. E. B. DuBois, and became the protege of Auguste Rodin. Rodin was impressed with Warrick's sculpting ability as was the rest of France, where she had many exhibitions of her work. Warrick returned to Philadelphia in 1903 where she was the first African American woman to receive a commission from the United States government, to create a series of tableaux for the 1907 Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition. Warrick's sculptural work focused on themes of the African American experience, racism, feminism, horror and African heritage and identity. In addition to her sculptures, Warrick was also a prolific theater designer, director, and actress.

Image Source:








Elle King

UArts Class of 2012, BFA, Multidisciplinary Fine Arts

Singer, Songwriter, Actress

Elle King was born in 1989 in Los Angeles, CA. King began playing guitar and banjo in her teen years. After graduating from high school in New York City, King studied painting and film at University of the Arts. Upon completion of her degree, King released her first EP in 2012 and then toured or performed with artists such as Dashboard Confessional, Train, and Ed Sheeran. King released her debut album, Love Stuff, in 2015. The lead single from the album, "Ex's & Oh's", reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and received two Grammy nominations for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song. 

Image Source: Red Light Management via The San Diego Union-Tribune








Chien Chien Lu

UArts Class of 2017, MM, Jazz Studies


Chien Chien Lu moved to Philadelphia to study jazz at University of the Arts in 2015 after earning a Masters in Classical Music from Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan. While at UArts, Lu learned from Tony Miceli and graduated with a Masters of Music in Jazz Studies. After her graduation, Lu continued to perform locally as well as attend the Banff Jazz Residency. Lu has been noted as one of the 10 Emerging Jazz Artists of 2023 by the Recording Academy and her debut solo album, The Path, was widely lauded.

Image Source: Artist's website








Xenia Matthews

UArts Class of 2021, BFA, Film


Xenia Matthews is from Melbourne Beach, FL. She moved to Philadelphia to attend University of the Arts, from which she graduated in 2021 with a BFA in Film. Matthews directed her first two short films while at UArts and won Indie Mepmphis’s Departures Shorts Jury award for her thesis film, A Few Things I’m Beginning to Understand. Her 2022 short film OURIKA! had been shown at film festivals across the country.

Image Source: University of the Arts








Gertrude E. "Trudy" Pitts (1932-2010)

PMA Class of 1953, BM, Teacher's Certificate

Jazz Musician

Gold Medal Piano Award, 1950.

Trudy Pitts was born in Philadelphia in 1932. She studied music and music education at the Philadelphia Musical Academy, Temple University, and Juilliard. After graduation, she worked on the musical Raisin and was then inspired to work on her own musical career by her husband. Throughout her career she was lauded for her skill as a jazz organist and worked with various famed jazz musicians such as Grover Washington, Jr., Etta James, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, among others.

Image Source: Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images








Anne Estelle Rice (1877-1959)

PMSIA Class of 1897

Painter, Illustrator

Certificate A, 1896.

Certificate B for the Course in Decorative Painting and Applied Design, 1897.

2nd Place, Mrs. George K. Crozer Prize for Modelling [Sculpture] in the amount of $10.00, 1897.

Anne Estelle Rice was born in Conshohocken, PA in 1877. Rice first studied at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art and then attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. After graduating, Rice began contributing illustrations to various well-known periodicals such as Harper's and the Saturday Evening Post. She traveled to Paris in 1905 and developed her painting style there while continuing to illustrate for magazines and also create murals for the Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia. Continuing from the 1910s onwards, Rice held solo shows of her paintings to critical renown, her most well-known piece being her 1910 painting "The Egyptian Dancers".

Image Source: The Egyptian Dancers, 1910. Brooklyn Museum.








Alina Wheeler (1948-2023)

PCA Class of 1970, BFA, Illustration


UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 2012.

Alina Wheeler was born in 1948 in South Orange, NJ. After graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art, Wheeler co-founded the graphic design firm Katz Wheeler in 1980. In the same year she was a founding board member of AIGA Philadelphia and became its president in 1985. In 2003, she published the book Designing Brand Identity, an important work in the world of graphic design.

Image Source: Ed Wheeler, the Authors Guild