Summer at Penland is serious studio time, but it’s also so much more—the views, the people, the porch sits and volleyball games, the new ideas, the focus, the late nights, the energy, the community. The entire experience can be hard to put into words, so we were honored to have a crew from Charlotte here last summer to distill some of it into a short TV segment.
Raven Skyriver will teach the hot sculpting class Asymmetry this April 22-28, 2018 in the Penland hot shop. Register now.
Raven Skyriver’s pieces start out like most other pieces in the hot shop: a blob of molten glass on the end of a pipe, a bubble, the whole thing constantly rotating to remain on center. The glass moves from the bench to the glory hole and back; it gets marvered, colored frit is added. But somewhere along the way, the piece morphs into something different and truly impressive. For one thing, Raven works large—his off-hand sculpted pieces are often a full two or three feet long, some closer to four. For another, he succeeds at an impressive realism in his sculptures. The finished pieces are not simply a whale or a shell, but rather a sperm whale or an abalone shell complete with the coloration and subtleties of shape that distinguish one species from another.
“My work is almost exclusively derived from the marine ecosystem,” Raven explains. “I attempt to place the creatures back in their environment by capturing the fluid nature in molten glass and transferring it into the perceived weightlessness of a swimming creature. I always strive to imbue the work with a hint of life.” Indeed, each of his pieces is evidence of his keen and dedicated observation—from the detailed patterns and textures of a turtle’s back or the scales of a salmon to each creature’s movements and personality.
There’s an intensity to Raven’s hot shop process quite in contrast to the serene beauty of his finished pieces. To make Gyre, his 28-inch green sea turtle, Raven worked with a whole team of skillful glass artists, each one spinning, paddling, rotating, holding, directing, and responding in concert. No fewer than three torches heat the turtle’s fins, tail, and neck while Raven, in the middle of it all, works with expert speed and skill to incise a crease here or elongate an eyelid there. The mounting tension is palpable as he meticulously draws out the turtles’s likeness from the molten glass. It becomes plain that Raven’s work really is a team effort, and any slip or misstep could send the whole endeavor crashing to shards on the floor. (Watch Gyre come together in this awesome video!)
“The nature of glassblowing is teamwork,” Raven states. “The process in the hot shop is my biggest passion.”
We’re thrilled that Raven will be at Penland this spring to share that process and his expertise in the hot shop with Penland students. His 1-week workshop Asymmetry will run April 22-28 and will give experienced glass students new insight into sculpting out of round, working effectively with a team, and addressing technical challenges. See the complete workshop description below and then register now to up your glass game.
Raven Skyriver April 22-28, 2018
This hot glass workshop will be all about sculpting out of round. We’ll focus on team work, timing, and problem solving on the fly, giving students a foundation on which to build intricate asymmetrical forms and teaching them how to overcome technical obstacles. If you are someone who works on symmetrical forms and you want to change it up, or if you simply want to sharpen your hot sculpting skills, this workshop has a lot to offer. Advanced level: your application must be accompanied by a CV detailing your experience in glass and five images of your work. Send these to firstname.lastname@example.org. Studio fee: $40. Code S03GA
Studio artist; teaching: Pilchuck (WA), The Studio at Corning (NY), Niijima Glass Center (Tokyo), Glass Furnace (Turkey), Aya Glass (Japan); exhibitions: Glasmuseet Ebeltoft (Denmark), Island Museum of Art (WA), Maryhill Museum of Art (WA), multiple solo shows at Stonington Gallery (Seattle).
Iron student Josh Toller, being interviewed for a Penland video back in November. Josh attended the fall iron concentration with a Glassroots-Penland Fellowship, a grant-funded program that provides scholarships for students recruited through Glassroots in Newark, New Jersey. “At this monastery for the hands,” said Josh, “I have acquired a new found and deeper respect for artists and art itself, I have obtained an aesthetic that I am proud to call my own, and most importantly I have gained knowledge from those around me that I have lived with for two months.” Josh and his fellow travelers from Newark made a big impact on the fall session, and we hope to see them all here again in the future.
Support for the Penland-Glassroots Fellowship is provided by a grant from The Nicholson Foundation.
Here it is, the summer 2018 workshop catalog!We’re thrilled to share our lineup with you in anticipation of another summer packed with creativity, energy, new friendships, and new ideas. We’re offering 102 unique workshops led by 116 talented artist/instructors, including favorites like encaustic painting and steel sculpture and special classes like brushmaking and skin-on-frame canoe building. Most workshops are open to serious students of all levels (beginners included!), and all give you access to the slide nights, dance parties, movement classes, scholarship auctions, and more that make a Penland session so special.
This year, summer registration will open to all students on January 8 at 9 AM EST on a first-come, first-served basis; we will not be using a lottery system. Applications may be submitted online, by fax, by post, or in person.
Scholarships are available for every summer workshop, including full, partial, and work-study scholarships. Spaces will be held in each workshop for scholarship students. Scholarship applications are due by 11:59 PM EST on February 17.
We hope you find a few minutes over the holidays to pour over the Penland catalog and find the perfect workshop for you, wherever you are in your creative journey. Look out for full course descriptions on the website by the end of December, with printed catalogs to follow in early January.
Holly Roberts, who will be teaching an eight-week Penland workshop beginning in March, is a painter and a photographer. Her work with paint tends toward color and layers, while her photographs often highlight everyday patterns and textures in black and white—the branches of trees against the sky, the coiled springs of a mattress, the pebbly surface of a paved driveway. But her real work is in combining the two into narrative collages.
Holly’s collages speak to specific memories, thoughts, or individuals, and she can elaborate on the stories behind each. There’s the yellow collage of a cowboy, for example, loosely inspired by her husband’s grandfather in his ranch hand days out in Texas and New Mexico, or the aqua and dull red image of three faces inside separate houses that deals with the growing rifts between siblings as they age.
On the surface, some elements of these stories are obvious—the cowboy boots, the human features, the three peaked roofs. But deeper inspection draws out more depth from the constructed layers. The cowboy’s belt buckle is pasted from a photograph of a bird’s nest, and the squiggling “bones” that run the length of his body are the branches of trees. In the collage of houses, there are recognizable shapes, but others draw questions—are those hands reaching up from the bottom, or roots? Is the sky filled with clouds, or are those thought bubbles brimming with the unsaid words between siblings?
There’s a directness to these pieces that belies their depth and consideration. What first appears playful or happenstance is the result of careful arranging, rearranging, testing, and experimenting. Holly understands her materials as language and has gained the fluency to communicate through them on an immediate, elemental level.
The short video below is an illuminating view into her creative process in the studio:
This spring, we are thrilled to welcome Holly back to Penland to share her approach to narrative collage with our community. She and her students will go in-depth with the possibilities of paint mixed with other media during her concentration The Perfect Union: Paint, Collage & Transfers. The workshop will run March 11 – May 4, 2018, and registration is open now. Students can expect eight weeks of investigation, exploration, questions, and camaraderie.
The Perfect Union: Paint, Collage & Transfers
Holly Robert—Students will begin the process of combining media by experimenting with different ways of applying paint. Painted surfaces will serve as the core of the images to follow and will guide students in forming these images. Students will experiment with transfer processes, gluing and adhesive techniques, and using their own source material to build images onto their painted surfaces. The workshop will stress investigation, exploration, and risk in an attempt to marry disparate media such as print, text, photographs, and any other material students want to use. All levels. Studio fee: $170. Code S00D
Studio artist; teaches nationally and internationally; two NEA fellowships; monographs of her work published by Nazraeli Press and Friends of Photography; collections: Art Institute of Chicago, Center for Creative Photography (AZ), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Art Houston, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
There’s a certain fearlessness to Christina Shmigel’s sculpture. Her pieces include traditional materials such as steel, wood, and paint, but they don’t stop there. From bright plastic pinwheels and cardboard to plumbing parts and found furniture, everything is fair game as a building block in her thoughtful, observant tableaus and constructions. Each finished piece is like a reflection of the world around her filtered through her keen eyes, skilled hands, and the particular quirks of her attention. There’s a fearlessness in that attention, too.
Christina comes to her sculpture practice with a particularly broad base of experience to draw on. Her BFA from RISD is in painting, and she followed it with an MFA from Brooklyn College that she describes as “more conceptual.” Later, she returned to school for a second MFA at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, this time with an emphasis on technical skills like blacksmithing and casting.
Despite this rigorous training, Christina’s sculptures are anything but precious. “I work in a very crafted, un-crafted way,” she says. “I’m interested in that place where you make something, and you solve the problem with enough elegance so it ‘works’—it’s a little sloppy, but it has beauty, too… How do I bring that incidental beauty into my work?”
A simple answer to that question would be to look at one of Christina’s larger undertakings, A Foreigner’s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities. The piece is built into the sixty-seven drawers of an old Chinese medicine cabinet and is a visual journal/scrapbook/“memory palace” of the years she has spent living in Shanghai. Each drawer is full of incidental beauty, found humor, and the little puzzles of the everyday in a vibrant, adopted city: discarded trinkets, cardboard reconstructions of Shanghai’s ubiquitous air conditioners, the peculiar packaging of a Chinese detergent. Together, they paint a nuanced portrait of a particular city at a particular point in time, and they give us a view into the mind of the artist as she takes it all in.
This spring, Christina will bring her keen observations and relentless inquiry back to Penland, where she will teach the eight-week concentration Sculpture with Fierce Intention. The workshop is for students with an ongoing studio practice who are eager to uncover the “why?” behind the work they make. It will take place in the Penland iron studio but will welcome a wide range of media based on student interest. Guest instructors Mike Rossi and John Watson will each join the workshop for a week to teach their specialties of steel and wood/plaster.
Christina Shmigel—Who am I as an artist? What distinguishes me as a maker? How do I work beyond what I know? Develop a serious body of work in sculpture/installation while digging deep into what gives you pleasure, purpose, and meaning. Through a guided series of riddles and playful explorations, you’ll investigate the why. Technical demonstrations (as needed) will assist you with the how. Guest instructors Mike Rossi (steel) and John Watson (wood/plaster) will each join us for a week of material improvisation. Students may work in any medium in object- or space-based sculpture. Penland’s iron studio will be transformed into a sculpture studio for this workshop. For artists with an ongoing studio practice in any material. Studio fee: $275. Code S00I
Christina: Studio artist; former Penland resident artist; teaching: Webster University (St. Louis), frequent Penland instructor; exhibitions: Ukranian Museum (NYC), Duolun Museum of Art (Shanghai), Laumeier Sculpture Park (St. Louis), St. Louis Art Museum. Mike: principal of Rossi Metal Design (Philadelphia) making unique architectural works, furniture, and sculpture; teaching: Ox-Bow (MI), Haystack (ME), Bryn Athyn College (PA), Kalamazoo College (MI); Windgate Artist in Residence at State University of New York-Purchase. John: Studio artist: teaching: Webster University (St. Louis), Belmont University (TN); exhibitions: Vanderbilt University (TN), hemphill Fine Art (DC); co-author of Living the Dream…The Morning After Art School (Kendall Hunt Publishing).