Archive | Community Collaborations RSS feed for this section

Art is activism: an interview with Ruganzu Bruno

 

ruganzu
ruganzu-2
ruganzu-3
ruganzu-4
ruganzu-5
ruganzu-6
ruganzu-7
ruganzu-8
ruganzu-9
ruganzu-10
ruganzu-11
ruganzu-12
ruganzu-13
ruganzu-14
ruganzu-15
ruganzu-16
ruganzu-17
ruganzu-18
ruganzu-19

 

Last week I talked with visiting artist Ruganzu Bruno outside of Penland’s wood studio. It was Ruganzu’s second week at Penland—a time for making his own sculpture after a wild week of collaborative effort. During that first week, Ruganzu and volunteers handpicked by Penland and the McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte built an eco-friendly play area behind Penland’s Ridgeway building. The rapid evolution of the play area (which stars a soaring Luna Moth) can be viewed in the slideshow above.

Thanks to the efforts of Penland’s community collaborations team, Ruganzu and his volunteers attracted and involved the energies of many in the Penland community, including students in Penland’s Kids Camp. Their playground now includes the bamboo-frame Luna moth filled with recycled bottles and coffee cans and a new tire-swing structure.—Elaine Bleakney

 

How are you finding your time at Penland?

The space, the quiet, being away from the city and chaos—this is more like a world for artists, and I feel privileged to be here. Having come with students from Charlotte from different backgrounds for a week to work on an eco-playground was rewarding. We got here and we got moving and working together—and then the students found it hard to leave. The knowledge of people at Penland—everyone has so much knowledge and experience, it’s a rare feature.

 

How did you all decide on the works that would be part of the playground at Ridgeway?

It was a collective decision. I had visited Penland last December. I was making another playground plan in Charlotte for a neighborhood project called Brightwalk that had the same principles. In May I met again with parents and teaching artists, and they were so fond of the Luna moth that I switched my design, working in this idea. I consulted the kids in camp at Ridgeway too—they told us how they love to swing, and so we thought about how much of the playground we could create for swinging. I met Tom Dancer and Matt Anders—they knew all the types of wood and how lasting it was, even how old the wood was. So I call the new swings ‘The Dancer Swings’ after Tom: he’s the one who told me that locust wood might work instead of a chain I had designed for the tire swing. When he told me this I was thinking ‘Okay, how do I change my design?’ But in the end we discovered that the wood worked, and so there was new innovation.

 

How did you make the leap from studying painting, such a solitary act, to working collaboratively on public art?

I trained in painting and sculpture, and was finding collectors—it was selling. But it was not rewarding. Art needs to be in a community. Sometimes as artists we think that all we can do are pieces of aesthetic value for rooms, museums, galleries. For me, I got interested in environmental issues, especially in my country—Uganda is one of the countries affected most by climate change. It’s so hard because Uganda is so green; it’s hard to convince even a local person that we’re being affected. Most people don’t really care, so I was seeing art as an entry to activism. It also happened that when I was at university I saw that artists were communicating to other artists or to the people who collect art—the elite, people who have been to good schools—but it didn’t really go to a local person. So for me this was the realization.

 

What was your experience with art as a child like?

I grew up in a district of Uganda where the mountains and nature were all around. We had lots of potters—and that environment nurtured me. I had a really good artist mentor, teacher, and friend, so I started surviving on art. I grew up as an orphan. I was selling my small pieces, working on what I would call commercial art, and that was my background. I don’t know when it was I started drawing—I’m not one of those artists who can tell you that. For me, the economics in my district taught me about art because I could see that artists could actually make money. So I had a way of finding my feelings about my losses as an orphan and I knew that art would be my solace.

 

Is making art still a solace for you?

I think so. I think my need to make playgrounds relates to my childhood—there was something I was missing—it wasn’t play, it was more the economy, the need to have enough. I see a lot of kids in the U.S. with so much and they feel like they have no choices. I had so little and I saw that I had to choose what would make me happy.

I find in my work that I’m trying to address the consumerism. I’ll be doing a project in Denmark next year called What Is Eating You. I’ll be using some African rituals to show how we can solve issues. Back home, if I wrong you, it’s possible that we don’t rush to court, and we go to the chief. One of the tribes in Uganda actually uses food as conflict resolution. That’s what I’ll be doing in Denmark, in schools.

 

Thank you so much for being here with us.

I would love to come back. I want to try out everything here! I would love to see a Penland structure in Uganda, there would be so many people lining up to enter.

 

 

Comments are closed

Field Trip

Untitled-1

We spied a batch of sketchbooks sitting out in front of the Pines dining hall last week (not an unusual sight at Penland, but still, we wondered who belonged to them.)

After lunch the artists appeared: eighth graders from Harris Middle School, visiting Penland as a final field trip before summer vacation.

Some of the students showed us their sketches–Penland trees, artworks they had seen being made in the studios, buildings on campus, and a real or imagined owl–before heading off with Penland’s community collaborations director Stacey Lane and Leslie Dickerson, their teacher, for a walk to Cynthia Bringle’s studio.

 
 

Comments { 0 }

Community Open House

Our studios will be ready for action on Saturday, March 1, when we host our annual community open house. Everyone is welcome to take part in free activities in clay, iron, glass, metals, photography, printmaking and letterpress, textiles, and wood. There will be a special paste painting activity, as well as postcard-making in the school store. The Penland coffee house will be serving up special fare, and we’ll have information about our summer workshops and Kids Camp, too.

penlandcommunityopenhouse

 

penlandcommunityopenhouse2

 

penlandcommunityopenhouse3

 
More information about this year’s open house can be found here.
 
 

Comments are closed

Open Mic Night

 

Last Friday in the Pines, Penland’s own supply store clerk Stephanie Ott hosted an Open Mic event organized by Community Collaborations Manager Stacey Lane and spoken-word artist Pierce Freelon (you’ve met Pierce on our blog before) to celebrate the success of Pierce’s week-long artist residency in a local high school. Pierce and his students performed spoken-word pieces individually, and shared a collaborative work as a group. Penland staff members, neighbors, and students rounded out the evening’s lineup, filling a few fabulous hours with wonderful exhibitions of local talent, live-cast worldwide by IT guru Mark Boyd. Thanks to Mark for the video.

Comments { 0 }

Camera Obscura: Pinhole Workshop at Penland

Pinhole camera workshop

Students pose in front of a handmade pinhole camera during a one day photography workshop at Penland School of Crafts, taught by Robin Dreyer. From left to right: Anina van der Vorst, Hope Henson, Priscilla Bonner, Megan Banks, Abbigayle Atkins, David Martinez .

When we take a photograph, we are capturing the light that is reflected off of something. Imagine a person wearing a cap. The sunlight hits the cap in a straight line and bounces off the cap at a 90 degree angle. The light that bounces off is the image that we see. When we take a photograph it is that light that exposes photosensitive chemicals to make an image.  This all might sound very theoretical, but when working with a pinhole camera, the basic functions of photography become exposed (no pun intended). Recently, Mitchell County high school students were invited to participate in a free photography workshop on the Penland School of Crafts campus. The workshop, conducted by Robin Dreyer, focused on pinhole photography. The Penland photography studio was set-up with equipment for students to take, develop, and experiment with pinhole photography.

To make your own camera obscura, follow these simple steps:

1. Cover the inside of a large aluminum can with black spray paint.

2. Drill a ¼ inch hole into the side.

3. Cut a 2 x 2 inch piece of pie tin and poke a tiny hole in it with a needle.

4. Sand the hole to remove any debris.

5. Place the pie tin over the larger drilled hole and secure it with masking tape to ensure light is only coming through the tiny pin hole.

6. Place a removable piece of tape over the pinhole to temporarily block light.

7. Create a top using an opaque material secured with a rubber band.

8. Inside a dark room, Place photo sensitive paper into the can and secure the lid on the can.

9. On a sunny day, find a brightly lit scene and pull back the removable piece of tape for four seconds exposing the pin hole.

10. Find a friend with a dark room to develop the photo.

11. Enjoy your pinhole picture!

Shannon Moon, Community Collaborations

Comments { 0 }

Bound for Success at Power2Give

 

Community Collaborations

 

Bound for Success: Bookmaking in Mitchell County Schools

“It was hard to learn so many facts about the moon – before this project I never really paid attention.”  –  Mitchell County 3rd grade student

Penland’s Community Collaboration crafts powerful learning experiences for youth, deepening their connection with curriculum and engaging their creative minds.  Beginning today, there’s an exciting new way you can help us keep students bound for success, as Penland joins power2give.org for its Western North Carolina launch.  Power2give.org  is an online cultural marketplace that makes it easier for you to nurture specific Penland programs that you are passionate about. We are launching our participation with a project that is near and dear to our hearts: bringing high quality bookmaking experiences to 3rd, 4th and 9th grade students in Mitchell County.  By following the link below, you can find out more about the project and your options for helping to bring this magical experience to students in the classroom. Today’s launch also provides a special opportunity to double your contribution through NC Arts Council matching funds.  Matching funds are limited, so we are hoping you will jump right in!

Click the link below to visit our page at Power2Give, where you can learn more about this project and, if you like, make a donation:

http://power2give.org/go/p/1249

Comments { 6 }

Deyton Elementary’s Batik Week

Deyton Elementary School's Batik Week

On Community Batik Day, Mitchell County students, parents, and teachers gather around as artist-in-residence Leni Newell explains waxing – one of the detailed steps of the batik process.

With a grant provided by the North Carolina Arts Council, in collaboration with Penland School of Crafts, Deyton Elementary School in Spruce Pine recently hosted “Batik Week.”  Every day for one week, artist-in-residence Leni Newell led fourth grade students step-by-step through the process, which involves melted wax and vibrant fabric dyes. Batik art has African and Indonesian roots and completed art can be framed, sewn into a pillow, or quilted.

Art teacher Samantha Hundley was instrumental in choosing Ms. Newell for the residency. “Batik is a great art form because it can be done individually or with a group, and Ms. Newell has an emphasis on teaching students and getting the entire community involved,” she said.

As part of the residency, on September 19th Deyton invited Mitchell County residents to participate in making a community banner that will decorate the halls of the school. Parents, teachers, and students worked side by side to learn the process of Batik.

“I’ve studied Batik art for over 25 years, and I love teaching it because it is an amazingly successful, self-esteem boosting art form,” commented artist Leni Newell. “Anyone can pick up a tool and make a completed piece without previous experience.”

If you are a teacher and are interested in applying to host an artist-in-residence, please contact Penland’s community collaborations manager, Stacey Lane, at 828-765-8060 or staceylane@penland.org. Penland School is excited to explore new ways of supporting art education in the local schools.

– Shannon Moon

Comments { 1 }