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Photo(s) of the Week: Spring in the Studios

The following post is a photo slideshow. If you’re looking at it in email, we recommend viewing it on the blog.

Students at work in the "Artist and Weaver" concentration
The weaving studio has looked like a veritable Pantone book this spring
Ikat weaving (and party banners!)
A giant frame loom with a radial warp
It takes teamwork to prepare pulp for papermaking
Learning the delicate art of Eastern papermaking
Turning pulp to paper
Handmade sheets of paper show their texture in the sun
The iron class started by forging spoons and other small objects
Products of an iron inflation demo in Elizabeth Brim's workshop
The glow of a coal fire in the iron studio
Taking a closer look at negatives during a 1-week workshop
Nancy Blum came to campus as this spring's visiting artist
This spring's clay concentration includes throwing, decorating, and handbuilding
Wavy clay things
Colorful clay things
Working with image transferring techniques
Students adding soda to a kiln during firing
A few treasures out of the kiln
A rainbow of inks in the letterpress studio
A few of the cloth bags that came out of one week of "Printfest!"
Just a small selection of the plates and prints that came through the studio in one week
Inking wood type to add to a print
Instructor Laura Wood in the studio during her "Make Show Repeat" concentration
Talking metals
For Alicia Keshishian's color theory workshop, the whole drawing studio got a colorful makeover.
Choosing palettes from a table full of color
Everything is scaled up in the wood studio this spring for the timber framing class
Working on site before the whole frame is raised
Wood students with their building-to-be!
Glass bubbles and tubes and twists before the addition of neon
Some glass blowing teamwork.

 

Between seven concentrations and nine 1-week workshops, we’ve had a busy spring at Penland. It’s been exciting to see the progress that long classes make, whether it’s transforming straight beams into a fully-realized timber frame structure or collecting plant material to make into paper to make into books. Scroll through the photos above to get a glimpse of the colorful, experimental, detailed, thoughtful, beautiful things underway in the studios. And, if you’re in the area, please join us on May 5th at 8pm to celebrate the end of the session at the scholarship auction in Northlight!

 

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Photo of the Week: Timbers

Timber framing at Penland School

Instructor Raivo Vihman (left) and studio assistant Tom Shields (right) with some very long timbers they are preparing as part of the spring Concentration in wood, which is building a small timber-frame building on campus.

 

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Welcome Back, Horner

Horner Hall at Penland School

After more than a year of renovation and new construction, Penland’s venerable old Horner Hall, home to the Penland Gallery, is fully functioning again. This is the front of the building with the newly-installed sculpture, New Growth, by former Penland resident artist Hoss Haley.

 

Horner Hall at Penland School

Much of the building was gutted, the floor plan was altered, and all the spaces were completely renovated.

 

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A new exhibition hall and a courtyard were added to the North side of the building.

 

Horner Hall at Penland School

The second floor, which had been used for student housing for many decades, was refashioned into staff offices.

 

Horner Hall at Penland School

The building reopened in mid-March, just in time for the opening of the first scheduled Penland Gallery exhibition, This is a Photograph, curated by artist, photographer, and long-time Penland instructor Dan Estabrook (at left, with glasses).

 

 

Horner Hall at Penland School

The gallery walls and pedestals (custom-built by former Penland resident artist Daniel Marinelli) are covered with beautiful work, and we hope you’ll come visit. The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 – 5:00 and Sunday from Noon – 5:00. Closed Mondays. Lots more gallery information here.

 

Here is a time-lapse sequence of Hoss Haley and crew assembling New Growth on March 25.

 

 

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Communicating Through Craft: A Profile of Aaron Hughes

portrait of Aaron Hughes working at the press in the letterpress studio

 

Art, activism, performance, protest—for Aaron Hughes, the lines between them are blurred and insignificant. “All my work is about creating stories and sharing stories,” he explains. “I’m trying to find space for people to bridge the divides we have in our world through art and through stories.”

As a veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait for fifteen months in 2003-2004, Aaron is sharply aware of those divides. His deployment introduced him to a rougher and more complex world than he’d known growing up in the Midwest. “I felt like the ideas from my upbringing, my religion, my country didn’t make sense anymore,” he remembers. “But what did make sense was art. I felt like art was something I could invest in and believe in and put my energy into. It was something creative and not destructive.”

Aaron came home from his deployment determined to use art as a tool to generate conversations and connections about difficult topics like war, trauma, and oppression. In 2006 he graduated from the University of Illinois with a BFA in painting, and in 2009 he received his MFA in Art Theory and Practice from Northwestern University. Then he went on to work with organizations such as the National Veterans Art Museum, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and the Center for Artistic Activism.

 

Drawing from the series 21 Days to Baghdad/Chicago

One of the pieces from “21 Days to Baghdad/Chicago,” a collection of drawings and maps Aaron made after returning to Illinois from his deployment.

 

In the summer of 2013, Aaron came to Penland for the first time with a Windgate Charitable Fund Scholarship. “I had spent so much time helping others to tell their stories and listening to other people’s stories that I had neglected any kind of personal work I needed to do,” Aaron explains. “I applied to Penland as a part of my transition back to focusing on my own art practice.”

He has returned to Penland each summer since to take classes in the printmaking and letterpress studios. “One reason I’m super invested in the printmaking program is that I’m interested in the way printmaking and politics can help to popularize language, stories, and movements,” he says. The connection is clear for Aaron: “Your ability to communicate lies in your ability to execute a craft. That’s what I’ve been gaining each time I come to Penland—the opportunity to develop my craft and to improve my communication skills.”

Aaron readily admits, however, that his time at Penland has been about more than gaining skills in the studio. “Penland is a generous space for me as a veteran,” he explains. “It’s a place of transformation and growth and learning. I’ve been encouraging other veterans to apply there because it’s such a healing, generative space.”

When he’s at Penland, Aaron describes himself as a “studio hound.” “I just want to make, make, make, make, make,” he laughs. But Aaron also values the quieter, more contemplative moments on campus. He describes the short walk back from dinner to the print studio: “There’s a little bench that’s halfway. I’ve often enjoyed sitting there, embracing the evening as it approaches and watching the Appalachian dusk. It’s so beautiful—transcendently beautiful. And I just sit in between all this creativity and embrace the present moment of being there. I feel like that’s healing. That’s wholesome for anybody.”

–Sarah Parkinson

 

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The Altered Image: Mixed-Media with Photography

Nick DeFord, “Cibola,” Hand-embroidery, Highlighter, White-out and adhesive stickers on found map

Nick DeFord, “Cibola,” hand embroidery, highlighter, Wite-Out, and adhesive stickers on found map

 

“The type of work I make is not the kind of thing I can speed up. It goes at the pace it goes,” says artist Nick DeFord. “It’s stitching. I can only do so many stitches.”

It’s easy to imagine stitching and to think of detailed quilts or elaborately-embroidered handkerchiefs. But to imagine those items is not to imagine the work that Nick makes. Nick stitches not to attach two surfaces or enhance them with detail, but to add meaning, distort meaning, change meaning.

“My work explores the visual culture of cartography, occult imagery, geographical souvenirs, and other structures of information that are altered to examine the relationship of identity, space, and place,” Nick explains. He often chooses a found object as a starting point—an old photograph, a map, or a page from a book. From there, he adds layers with paint, stickers, paper, yarn, or thread, adding dimensions to it or changing its context. “Embellishing the truth” is how Nick describes the process.

 

Nick DeFord, "Invasion," hand embroidery on paper, four panels, 13" x 13" each

Nick DeFord, “Invasion,” hand embroidery on paper, four panels, 13″ x 13″ each

 

This spring, Nick will bring his unique approach to the Penland studios for a 1-week workshop called The Altered Image: Mixed-Media with Photography. The class, which will run April 24-30, 2016, will focus on physically altering photographs through collage, drawing, painting, and embroidery. Each student will transform photographs into pieces of layered art—but whether those layers are supernatural, whimsical, spooky, romantic, contradictory, or something else all together will be entirely up to them. The image is just a starting point.

“If you like spirit photography and stitching, then this workshop is for you,” Nick states. Register for The Altered Image now.

 

Nick DeFord, "Lost" (detail), hand embroidery on found map, 19" x 27.5"

Nick DeFord, “Lost” (detail), hand embroidery on found map, 19″ x 27.5″

The Altered Image: Mixed-Media with Photography

Nick DeFord—Photographs are perceived to be artifacts of truth—but truth can easily be distorted, embellished, and exaggerated. This class will use embroidery, collage, and drawing/painting techniques to physically manipulate photographs as a metaphor for the psychological dissection of truth, memory, and time. We will work on photos brought from home and found photos (both from the physical world, but also the cyber world). While students are welcome to shoot and print digital photos during the workshop, we will not be using the darkroom, and the emphasis of the class will be on manipulation and embellishment after the photo has been printed. All levels. Code S03P

Studio artist and Program Director at Arrowmont (TN); teaching: University of Tennessee, Arizona State University; exhibitions: William King Museum (VA), Vanderbilt University (TN), University of Mississippi, Coastal Carolina University; collections; City of Phoenix (AZ).

nickdeford.com

 

Nick DeFord, "Give the Devil," hand embroidery and Scotch tape on book page, 7" x 7"

Nick DeFord, “Give the Devil,” hand embroidery and Scotch tape on book page, 7″ x 7″

 

 

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Printfest with Aimee Joyaux | April 10-16, 2016

Letterpress print on old ledger paper

Aimee Joyaux, “Posh RVA,” letterpress, rubber stamps, ledger paper, 16″ x 20″

 

“I love narratives,” says Aimee Joyaux. “Life is full of stories.”

As a mixed-media artist and educator for the past 30 years, Aimee’s life is certainly rich with stories—her childhood on the island of Maui, her time as a photographer for a local newspaper, the eleven years she and her husband spent renovating the historic Virginia cotton warehouse they now call home.

“My work examines contradiction and bias, situating a personal experience within a grand narrative through language, iconography, and gestural fields of color,” Aimee explains. “This engagement with cultural memory explores ideas of power and place.” All that, and Aimee manages to do it with a bit of fun and whimsy.

 

PAAL_Aimee_G_JHW_9648

When Aimee was able to salvage hundreds of printing plates from a seed and feed bag company in Richmond, VA in 2011, the plates and their history quickly worked their way into her explorations of narrative. Through Cornmeal Press, Aimee’s co-op community print factory, she and others have been telling stories of agriculture, local production, and the southern United States—with a personal twist. The prints draw on historical imagery but add new layers through color, text, paper, and composition so that each one also speaks of its maker.

 

letterpress print on old wallpaper

Aimee Joyaux, “Don’t Postpone Joy,” letterpress on hand-printed wallpaper, 24″ x 30″ (1 of 15)

 

This spring, Aimee will bring Cornmeal Press and her love of stories to Penland for a week-long printing spree appropriately titled Printfest. “It’ll be crafty and fun—perfect for those new to printing (we’ll cover lots of basics) and the old pros (they can crank out a bunch of work),” Aimee says. “Come on down to North Carolina and put a pig on it!”

Registration is currently open for Printfest, which will take place April 10-16, 2016. If you’d still like more information after reading the course description below, take a look at the Cornmeal Press page on Aimee’s website.

 

Three women working at a printing press

 

Printfest

Aimee Joyaux — This workshop will be a fun week of introductory printmaking using dozens of plates salvaged from a seed and feedbag company in Richmond, Virginia. We’ll mix and match chickens, pigs, cows, and horses to make unique posters and simple broadsides. We’ll review basic printmaking processes with an equal emphasis on fun and exploration. We’ll cover ink application, color mixing, and printing on paper and fabric (tea towels!). We’ll print with a press or by hand using oil-based inks. Students will leave with a shared portfolio of prints and will contribute to the collective work of Cornmeal Press.

Aimee: Studio artist; teaching: Visual Arts Center (VA), Ball State University (IN); exhibitions: Catherine Edelman Gallery (Chicago), National Museum of Women in the Arts (DC), Melanee Cooper Gallery (Chicago), Center for Book and Paper Arts (Chicago); representation: Quirk Gallery (VA), Walton Gallery (VA).

Register to be part of Printfest.

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Aimee Joyaux, “5 O’Clock Somewhere,” letterpress on Atlas Sheets, 11″ x 15″

 

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Black-and-White Photorama with Robin Dreyer

Robin Dreyer, "Wave Runner," silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 inches.

Robin Dreyer, “Wave Runner,” silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 inches.

 

Photography is alive and well at Penland—all kinds of photography. Photography dates back to 1839 and, in the years since then, it has undergone repeated technical evolution, beginning with daguerreotypes and early paper processes and ending up with today’s digital technologies. Along the way, many fascinating and beautiful methods of image-making have come and not quite gone. Not quite, because artists and craftspeople are in the habit of taking an out-of-date technology (like the potter’s wheel or the letterpress) and adopting it for purely creative purposes.

This is exactly what’s happened in photography, and Penland’s photo workshops cover almost every kind of photography that has ever been practiced: salt printing, cyanotype, platinum, color processes, digital processes, and, of course, gelatin silver photography. What is gelatin silver, you might ask? That’s the technical name for black-and-white darkroom photography, which dominated both art and commercial photography during much of the twentieth century. It’s the kind of photography people used to do in their basements using their dad’s camera. It’s the kind of photography that used to be part of high school and college art programs. The profession of photojournalism and the photography collection of the Museum of Modern Art were built on gelatin silver photography.

If you’ve always wanted to explore the potential of these materials or you are nostalgic for that little darkroom you used to have in your bathroom, or if you are a photographer interested in trying out some different ways of working, we have a one-week workshop this spring that may just be for you: Black-and-White Photorama with Robin Dreyer March 27 – April 2.

 

black and white image of oak tree hung with prayer flags

Robin Dreyer, “Prayer Flags,” silver gelatin print, 10 x 10 inches.

 

Robin has been Penland’s communications manager for twenty years, and for much of that time he’s been the school’s main photographer. Although today he makes pictures for the school using digital cameras and a computer, he shot a lot of Penland’s earlier promotional photographs on black-and-white film and printed them in his darkroom. Black and white was his first photographic love, and he’s never lost that interest. His silver gelatin photographs have been shown in galleries in Asheville, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh, Atlanta, and New York City. One of his prints won Best in Show at The Art of the Auction, a juried show/auction at the North Carolina Museum of Art. He’s taught two previous Penland workshops and is looking forward to sharing his enthusiasm for this still-great method of making pictures.

“It’s kind of cliché,” Robin says, “but darkroom photography can be magical. You imagine something as you take the picture, you have some meditative time processing the film, and somehow these strange, translucent, negative images appear on your film. Then you take that film into this room, dimly lit in orange, that has cool optical devices and trays full of liquids, and, after a little fussing, you stand and watch a picture emerge on an apparently blank piece of paper. Often it’s not quite what you were imagining when you pressed the shutter; sometimes it’s much better.”

 

black and white image of chickens in a tree

Robin Dreyer, “Dawn Patrol,” silver gelatin print.

 

“My idea for this class,” he continued, “is to streamline the technical parts as much as possible so we can focus on the excitement of creating gelatin silver pictures. We’ll make our own pinhole cameras from tin cans to get grounded in the basics of the process. We’ll use them to make paper negatives and positives. Then we’ll expose film negatives using large-format cameras and plastic cameras. Large-format cameras can be intimidating, but they aren’t that hard to use, and the results can be amazing. Plastic cameras are quite easy to use; they give you very little control, and the results tend to be surprising and sometimes great. So we’ll get negatives a few different ways.

“With those negatives, we’ll make beautiful prints using Penland’s excellent enlargers. At the end of the week, everyone will have a little portfolio of new images—maybe wonderful, maybe weird—along with a deeper understanding of photography, black and white materials, and the mysteries of light and time.”

More information about Black-and-White Photorama with Robin Dreyer (March 27 – April 2)

Register for Black-and-White Photorama

 

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