Archive | April, 2017

Spotlight on Summer

Temperatures are warming, the knoll is very green once more, and summer workshops are on the horizon. There are still dozens of offerings across our studios with available space, including a few session 1 workshops. Why not start your summer off with a concentrated dose of creative energy and inspiration? Registration is open now, and a handful of workshops even have work-study scholarships available!

 

Two figurative sculptures in glass

Sculptures by Ross Richmond. Left: “Peacock,” glass, gold leaf, steel, 14 x 8 x 5 inches. Right: “Untitled,” glass, wood, steel, 22.5 x 8 x 9 inches.

 

Hot Glass Sculpting

Ross Richmond, May 28 – June 9, 2017

This workshop will be an exciting opportunity for intermediate and advanced glass artists to explore glass as a sculptural material. Students will learn torch techniques that will enable a greater level of detail in hot-sculpted forms and will use sketches and drawings to help visualize finished pieces.

Instructor Ross Richmond has been working with glass for over twenty-five years and is known for his involved narrative pieces. Many of his figures measure a full two feet tall, yet they project a serenity and ease that is hard to reconcile with the fast, hot work of the glass studio. The Corning Museum describes him as “one of the top glass sculptors in the field today.” UrbanGlass.org praised his astounding technical skill, saying, “The realization that these forms were hot-sculpted and not mold-blown, or cast into a carefully prepared mold, is to appreciate the skills that went into them.”

For any glassblowers looking to take their work to the next level of detail and expression, this workshop is the perfect opportunity for focused practice, skill building, and expert instruction. Read the full course description.

 

letterpress printed greeting cards

A selection of greeting cards by Lynda Sherman’s Bremelo Press.

 

Letterpress: Text Is Image

Lynda Sherman, May 28 – June 9, 2017

Letterpress newbies and experts alike will get the chance to play with words on the press and on paper in Lynda Sherman’s workshop. The class will focus on hand-setting type and the power and potential of the alphabet as a visual language. Students will be encouraged to experiment and to adapt their designs on the go to explore printing as analog communication.

“To know the history of analog printing is to keep the global continuum of collaboration and friendship uninterrupted,” Lynda explains. “Analog is the gift of our past, and by practicing in the present, it is the promise to the future. Where we go, we go together. Analog doesn’t leave anyone behind.”

If the smell of paper and ink and the turning arm of a Vandercook press appeal to you, then Lynda’s class might be a perfect fit. Read the course description herethere are even a couple work-study scholarships still available for this workshop!

 

wall hung cabinet with tambour doors

Reuben Foat, “Snake Cabinet,” ash, wenge, paint, 15 x 44 x 21 inches.

 

Tantalizing Tambour Doors

Reuben Foat, May 28 – June 9, 2017

Students who have already gotten their feet wet in the wood studio will get the chance to take their work further in this workshop with Reuben Foat. Geared towards intermediate and advanced woodworkers, this class will explore tambour doors and the sinuous movement they can introduce into a material that is more often rigid and static. The two weeks will cover design, solid-wood joinery, and efficient studio practices and will culminate in the construction of an original wall-hung cabinet that incorporates a tambour door.

Reuben is an experienced teacher and an accomplished woodworker who often uses the tambour door format in his own furniture and sculpture. It’s one thing to see still images of his work, but it’s another to see the pieces as they move. We highly recommend taking a look at these short videos of his pieces in action!

Registration for Tantilizing Tambour Doors is currently open to experienced woodworkers, and a couple work-study scholarships are still available on a first-come, first-served basis. Read the full course description here.

 

For a complete list of all summer 2017 workshops with available space, see our open workshop list.

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: Jetsonorama!

Chip Thomas at Penland School

Chip Thomas, a.k.a. Jetsonorama, is a physician, artist, and activist who lives and works in the Navajo Nation. He spent 10 days at Penland as a visiting artist this spring. Chip gave a beautiful presentation about his art and his life, and he created this piece, which covers two sides of a small storage building called Green Acres.

 

Chip Thomas at Penland School

Chip made the photograph in the Penland clay studio. It was printed in 3-foot-wide vertical strips on an architectural plotter. He carefully applied the strips to the building using acrylic matt medium. He was assisted by Kristyn Watson, who is a student in the spring textiles workshop. Chip developed this method as he created numerous installations on roadside stands, abandoned buildings, and other structures in the Navajo Nation. He has also made posters and large graphics for protest marches and other events, and, through his Painted Desert Project, he has brought other street artists and muralists to the reservation to work with him.

 

Chip Thomas piece at Penland School

The pots Chip photographed were on their way to the wood kiln, so he titled the installation, Clay Pieces Pretending to be Contestants on The Apprentice (i.e., pots waiting to be fired.)

Follow Chip/Jetsonorama @jetsonorama on Instagram
Follow Painted Desert Project on Facebook
Here’s a good video about Chip and his work.
There are short process videos of Chip’s Penland piece here and here.

 

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Two Views of the Craft School Experience

aerial views of the Haystack and Penland campuses

Haystack and Penland seen from the air.

 

When we say “Craft School Experience,” we’re referring to the total immersion workshops offered at Penland and our sister schools Arrowmont, Haystack, Peters Valley, and Pilchuck. We’re referring to the beautiful and often isolated environments of these schools, their deep history, their shared eating and living spaces, and of course their well-equipped studios that support top-notch instruction. The craft school experience means the special community atmosphere that inspires creativity and motivates new discoveries, new ideas, and new connections. It’s common to all these schools, but it’s also an experience that looks different for every individual who sets foot on our campuses.

Over at CraftSchools.us, the Craft School Consortium has been collecting stories and anecdotes to illustrate the craft school experience. Two recent ones on their blog are particularly near to our hearts. The first is by Robin Dreyer, who wrote a beautiful piece about a recent trip to Haystack from his perspective as a Penland staff member, instructor, and student of nearly twenty years. “Getting to the end of the road before I could see the school was a good indication that, while Haystack and Penland may be sisters, they are not twins,” Robin writes. He goes on to describe Haystack’s campus and facilities, its historical connections to Penland, and the little delights and surprises he experienced at this place that felt at once so familiar and entirely new.

 

Bill Griffith stands with a display of his pots

Clay artist Bill Griffith with some of his work in a recent show.

 

In another post, clay artist Bill Griffith describes the unexpected roads that opened up for him after a one-week workshop at Arrowmont in the summer of 1983. We won’t spoil the details of his journey, but we can give you a few hints by saying that he has spent many years at Arrowmont as the assistant director, program director, and now the outreach and partnership liaison. In addition, he’s a working studio artist and clay instructor. In fact, he’ll be teaching a slab-built pottery workshop at Penland during session 7 this summer!

If you haven’t had a craft school experience of your own yet, signing up for a workshop is the best way to start. We can’t be sure where it will take you, but it’s likely to be an intense and creative burst that you won’t soon forget.

 

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Penland Director Jean McLaughlin to Retire

portrait of Jean McLaughlin taken by resident artist Mercedes Jelinek

A recent portrait of Jean taken at Penland by resident artist Mercedes Jelinek.

Jean McLaughlin, director of Penland School of Crafts, will retire in December 2017. Jean began working at Penland in May 1998 and has presided over an extraordinary period of growth, development, and stabilization at the school.

During these two decades, Penland has built new studios, expanded programs and scholarships, conducted two successful fundraising campaigns, greatly solidified its base of support, and grown its endowment from $2.1 million to $17 million.

One of Jean’s first projects was to commission architect Abie Harris and landscape architect Sam Reynolds to create a campus master plan, which has guided the most visible changes at Penland. Major infrastructure upgrades include new studios for iron, wood, printmaking, letterpress, drawing and painting, and book arts, with construction underway for new photography and papermaking studios. The clay, metals, glass, and textiles studios were improved or expanded. There were major renovations to historic Horner Hall and The Pines, and many other old buildings were repaired or renovated. Several new housing structures were built, and attention was paid to accessibility and safety campus-wide.

Under Jean’s leadership, the school was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Penland School of Crafts Historic District, and the Jane Kessler Memorial Archives was established to preserve Penland’s history. Dozens of new scholarships were endowed, the workshop program was expanded, a writing residency was established, and new programs were created to serve the local community. All of this was made possible through a significant expansion of the staff and the support of a devoted board of trustees. Jean’s accomplishments were recently honored nationally when she received a 2016 Distinguished Educator’s Award from the James Renwick Alliance.

 

cutting the ribbon for the opening of new studio buildings

Jean leads a group at the ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation Studio in 2015.

 

“I came to Penland with big aspirations,” says Jean. “I knew how powerfully the school had affected the lives of artists, and I knew how important its history had been to the craft movement in our country. My desire was to make change happen that would evolve and improve Penland without losing its distinctive character. Looking back, I see so many moments that fill me with pride—accomplishments that were made possible through the wise counsel and enthusiastic support of many people. I am grateful to have been part of making these important and needed improvements happen.”

Speaking for the board of trustees, chair Alida Fish said, “The quality of Jean McLaughlin’s leadership has been extraordinary—an inspiration to us all. For the past two decades, she has provided a vision keenly focused on growth and innovation. Thanks to her unwavering commitment, Penland is now well positioned for continuing success.”

Later in the year, we’ll have celebrations and going-away parties and post an interview with Jean, but for now we’ll just say, thank you for everything.

A more comprehensive list of what has been accomplished at Penland in the last 19 years can be found here.

 

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