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Elephants at the Gallery

gallery-maruyama

 

The Penland Gallery proudly presents Wendy Maruyama: the wildLIFE Project, a mixed-media exhibition that draws attention to the plight of elephants. Through a moving installation of large-scale objects, shrine forms, and informational panels, the show creates a powerful aesthetic environment and makes a compelling case for the preservation of animals in the wild. This touring exhibition originated at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and will be on display at the Penland Gallery through September 4. All are welcome to join us for the opening reception on Saturday, July 16, 4:30-6:30 PM, which will celebrate The wildLIFE Project as well as a show of paintings by Kreh Mellick in the Focus Gallery.

Furniture maker, artist, and educator Wendy Maruyama has been making innovative work for forty years. While her earlier work was built around traditional craft objects, in recent years she has moved beyond the boundaries of studio craft and into the realm of installation and social practice. The wildLIFE Project was inspired by a trip to Kenya where she saw elephants and other large animals in the wild and met with wildlife advocates to learn about the impact of poaching.

In this show, the elephant is memorialized in monumental form through a series of masks, eight to twelve feet in height and constructed from wood panels tied together with string. Several shrine forms are also on display, one of which is based on a traditional Buddhist altar. This beautifully crafted furniture piece incorporates an image of an elephant, flowers, a candle, an incense burner, and a handmade bell that rings every fifteen-minutes to memorialize the elephants that are being killed for their ivory. Another piece, titled Sarcophagus, is a wood and glass box that encases a stack of tusks made from blown glass. Maruyama made these objects in collaboration with glass artists Nancy Callan and Dan Friday during a residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Washington. A third shrine incorporates video, and the wall panels complement the artwork with photographs, text, and graphics.

elephant mask

“Orkanyawoi,” Wendy Maruyama

Curator Elizabeth Kozlowski has followed Maruyama’s work for many years. She says the artist views this body of work not only as an art project but as an advocacy tool. “The social-practice component of her artwork is successful in combining art, advocacy, education, and community. Her work manages to pull you in with stirring visuals and keep you engaged with multiple layers of content.”

Wendy Maruyama was a professor of woodworking and furniture design at San Diego State University in California for more than thirty years. Her work has been exhibited in New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo, Seoul, and London and can be found in many museum collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Japan/US Fellowship, a Fulbright Research Grant and the California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant. She has also been an instructor at Penland School of Crafts several times.

The wildLIFE Project has been shown at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Texas and the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia. After it leaves the Penland Gallery, it will travel to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA and the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design.

This exhibition is a great opportunity to visit the recently renovated and expanded Penland Gallery, which also features paintings by Kreh Mellick in the Focus Gallery beginning July 15. As something special, Kreh’s work not only hangs in frames for the exhibition, but has moved onto the walls themselves in the form of large-scale murals. Come by the opening reception on Saturday, July 16, 4:30-6:30 PM to see the exhibitions, or stop by anytime during gallery hours Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM and Sunday, Noon-5:00 PM.

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: 4th of July Parade!

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

Penland students, staff, instructors, friends, and neighbors make the parade a real community event.
The lithography workshop made custom-printed hats for everyone.
It's a party in the U.S.A. on this red truck.
Can you find Tom Spleth in this photo?
Some truly first-rate hats
It's all sunshine and rainbows on this float, which won "Best in Show" at the awards ceremony!
This dragon made a fine (and crafty) addition to the front of the parade.
Even the golf carts got a festive boost of red, white, and blue!
Photographers get loud
That's a glass flag!
Barbara Cooper's class made quite an impressive moving sculpture.
Upper metals takes silverware to a whole new scale.
Is a parade really complete without fire juggling?
King Mark Hewitt on his wheel throne
Pool floaties and a water slide!
Our favorite way to celebrate? Ice cream for all!
Some seriously fierce face painting took place after the parade.
The knoll shining red with the help of some fireworks and a few thousand bottle rockets
ka-boom!

 

Penland’s annual 4th of July celebration actually fell on July 4 this year, and the costumes, floats, and fireworks were definitely up to the occasion. Thanks to all the students, instructors, staff, and everyone in the community who came out, dressed up, and made for such a memorable night. Happy 4th, Penlanders!

 

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A Well-Deserved Honor

Award recipients pose after the ceremony

Jean McLaughlin (right) with the other recipients of the James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Educator Award. Left to right: Paul Sacardiz for the Haystack Fab Lab, Chunghi Choo, Jamie Bennett, Jean McLaughlin.

 

Jean McLaughlin, Penland’s longtime director, was honored this spring with a 2016 Distinguished Craft Educators Award from the James Renwick Alliance in Washington, DC. The Alliance is a nonprofit organization that works to promote craft artists and craft education and helps to support the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the nation’s showcase for 20th and 21st century American crafts.

The James Renwick Alliance chooses Distinguished Craft Educators based on the recipient’s reputation for excellence and innovation in education, their influence on future artists in an education program, and their significant contributions to American education in the craft field. In nominating Jean for the award, glass artist, Renwick Alliance board member, and Penland trustee Tim Tate wrote, “When Jean came to Penland eighteen years ago, she breathed new life into the institution. She rebuilt or renovated most of the studios on campus. Thousands of students have passed through their doors, and almost every Distinguished Educator the Renwick Alliance has honored in the past has taught at Penland. Jean’s impact is hard to judge as its scope is so large.”

 

group photo with Jean

Jean celebrates after the award ceremony with a crowd of Penland friends.

 

As part of the award ceremony in April, the Alliance invited Jean to present a short lecture, which she devoted to an overview of Penland’s renowned craft workshops and residencies. “Penland is a leader in education,” Jean told the audience. “I can hardly lay claim to these accomplishments because they are the result of the minds and hands of many staff members and trustees—but my belief in Penland’s educational model is why I moved to Penland to become its director in 1998 and why I believe that I am here today!”

Congratulations, Jean, on this well-deserved honor! All of us in the Penland community benefit from your care, your dedication, and your vision.

 

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This Is a Photograph | Penland Gallery Exhibition

Chris McCaw Heliograph 095

Chris McCaw, Heliograph 095, two unique gelatin silver paper negatives, 10 x 8 inches each. This image was created by exposing photo paper in a view camera for long enough to allow the sun to create a trail across the negative. This piece represents two solar exposures.

 

What possibilities do historic photographic processes offer to contemporary artists? What does it mean to make photographic images with chemically-sensitized and processed materials in the digital era? These are some of the questions raised by “This Is a Photograph: Exploring Contemporary Applications of Photographic Chemistry,” the inaugural exhibition at the newly renovated and expanded Penland Gallery & Visitors Center. Curated by Brooklyn-based photographic artist and long-time Penland instructor Dan Estabrook, the exhibition not only reveals some of the arresting possibilities of these processes, it also brings work by world-class image makers to our community here in Western North Carolina.

Jerry Spagnoli Glasses

Jerry Spagnoli, Glasses 3-3-12, daguerreotype, 14 x 11 inches. A daguerreotype is an image created on a silver surface that has been polished to a mirror finish and then sensitized with fuming iodine and bromine. Dating to 1839, it was the first widely-used photographic process.

“This Is a Photograph” displays work by twenty-three artists experimenting with a variety of processes and materials in ways that frequently have little to do with their historic antecedents: tintype images made on found metal objects, large daguerreotypes that look almost holographic, images created by painting directly onto photo paper with chemicals, and images made by igniting gunpowder that had been sprinkled directly onto photo paper, to name a few. As Penland Gallery Director Kathryn Gremley describes, “handmade images created through the complex alchemy of light and chemistry are the common ground of the artists invited by Estabrook for this exhibition.”

“This Is a Photograph” opens on March 22, 2016. The gallery will celebrate with a public reception on Saturday, March 26 from 4:30-6:30 p.m at which Dan Estabrook and some of the artists will be present. The exhibition will be on display through May 1.

 

“This Is a Photograph” features the following artists: David Emitt Adams, Christina Z. Anderson, John Brill, Christopher Colville, Bridget Conn, Danielle Ezzo, Jesseca Ferguson, Alida Fish, Adam Fuss, Mercedes Jelinek, Richard Learoyd, Vera Lutter, Sally Mann, Chris McCaw, Sibylle Peretti, Andreas Rentsch, Holly Roberts, Mariah Robertson, Alison Rossiter, Brea Souders, Jerry Spagnoli, Bettina Speckner, Brian Taylor

Read Dan Estabrook’s essay on the show below, and you can see images of all the work in the show on the Penland Gallery website.

 

Adam Fuss Untitled

Adam Fuss, Untitled 2006, unique cibachrome photogram, 30 x 40 inches (courtesy of Cheim and Read, NY). This image was created by exposing color photographic paper through a transparent tank of colored water (with a baby in it).

 

One year ago, I was here at Penland teaching a workshop called “Photography in Reverse,” in which the students and I worked backward through the entire history of photography, stopping at key moments to experiment, play, and think about the nature of each technology. Starting with our smartphones and handheld devices—the very definition of today’s tech—we began to ask ourselves how photography has changed at this critical moment, now that almost all our daily photographic usage is created and printed digitally. At our first step backward in time, with the earliest digital cameras, we learned something crucial: although photography is becoming purely digital, like much else in our life today, we still live in a physical world, and there are artists who will always want to make physical things.

Christopher Colville Dark Horizon 41

Christopher Colville, Dark Horizon 41, gunpowder generated gelatin silver print; unique print, 8 x 6 inches. This image was created by igniting gunpowder in the presence of photographic paper.

We had to scramble to find the right cords and batteries and software so we could use some early digital cameras from 2001, and it became evident how much harder it was to work with the obsolete technology of 5 or 15 years ago than with the processes of 150 years ago. Most of our computers now can’t run the first version of Photoshop (ca. 1990) or read early Photo CDs or Zip Drives. Even the standard color snapshot is being discontinued, since the machines required to make and develop color films are disappearing for good. The history of photography, like the history of technology in general, seems to suggest that every new system or process is an advancement on the last, making all older forms obsolete. And yet for every technique that has been pronounced dead, there seems to be an artist ready to explore its particular expressive qualities. After all, decades after the invention of mass-produced ceramics, people still want to throw beautiful pots. The artists in this exhibition are each exploring the possibilities of physical and chemical photography to pursue their own contemporary aims, very much in the here and now.

Some are finding a wealth of new beauty in the simplicity of the photographic act—a permanent mark made by the meeting of light and chemistry. Others are deeply engaged with history, in how we look backward from the present or forward to the years ahead. Still others have realized how much can be revealed in the life of a physical photographic object. Any technology that can still be used by artists, whether it’s something that can be handmade or something produced from saved and scavenged machines, is going to have an ongoing parallel history through the work of these artists, not just as a period relic but as a technology carried along into the present with new developments and new meaning for the future.

A decade from now it will likely be easier to make a daguerreotype than to use the iPhone you bought in 2016; in 100 years that will be even more true. In the meantime, there will be artists like these to involve us in the material world in which we live, and to expand the possibilities of just what a photograph is.

Dan Estabrook | Studio Artist | Penland Instructor

 

Sally Mann Untitled (Self Portraits)

Sally Mann, Untitled (Self-Portraits), 2012, unique collodion wet-plate positives on metal with sandarac varnish, 9 parts, 10 x 8 inches each (courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, NY). These self-portraits were made using the traditional tintype technique, which involves pouring a liquid emulsion onto a metal plate and then exposing it before it has completely dried.

 

Alida Fish Winter Leaves

Alida Fish, Winter Leaves, archival pigment print transferred onto oxidized aluminum, 24 x 20 inches. Alida creates patterns of oxidation on aluminum sheets and then transfers digitally-printed photographs onto the metal surface.

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: Community Open House 2016

The following blog post is a photo slideshow. We recommend viewing it in an Internet browser.

Learning to blow glass is one of the most popular open house activities.
This blob of hot glass became a juice glass after a few minutes' work.
In the letterpress studio, visitors printed masks on the Vandercook press.
Cutting out eye holes in a freshly-printed mask
If you see one of these creatures around, it's probably been to the letterpress studio!
In the clay studio, visitors learned to throw on the pottery wheel.
All sorts of fun clay creatures being made at the handbuilding tables.
Getting clay pointers from one of our great volunteers
Making a clay mask while wearing a letterpress mask
In the iron studio, everyone got to try their hand at forging a J hook.
These two are adding a decorative twist to finish off the hook.
Visitors to the Ridgeway building decorated paste papers.
Sometimes, fingers are the best brushes!
Hands-on fun!
Who wouldn't want to join in on some whistle mania?
Visitors to the wood studio made their own train whistles.
The whistle process involved some precise sawing and drilling.
These two young visitors made a whistle—and it works!
In the flameworking studio, visitors made glass beads.
Here's a mother-daughter flameworking duo.
Each bead is formed by melting colored glass onto a metal rod.
The photo studio was all about crazy portraits.
This visitor is getting her photo taken as a tiger.
Edwina poses with her gold-sequined portrait.
Resident artist Jaydan Moore demonstrated his printmaking process to visitors.
In the metals studio, visitors learned pewter casting.
After the pewter is melted, it's poured into this two-part mold.
Unmolding the pewter revealed a tiny hammer and anvil!
Visitors to textiles learned to weave at the looms.
Everyone went home with a rag-rug coaster they wove themselves.
Visitors to the school store got to embellish Penland postcards
Thanks to the 700+ people who came out to visit us for the Community Open House!
And a big thanks to all our volunteers and staff!

 

This year’s Penland Community Open House was another big success! Over 700 people from the Penland community came up to try their hand at a new craft. Artists young and old alike were busy forging in the iron studio, flameworking beads in the glass shop, making colorful portraits in the photo studio, creating wooden whistles, and lots more. We’re grateful to all volunteers for helping us to share this fun day with our community, and to all the visitors who join us with such enthusiasm.

 

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The Early Days of Studio Glass

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the American studio glass movement was still in its infancy. “Learning to manipulate the glob of hot glass and create the shapes and details we wanted was very experimental,” explained Fritz Dreisbach, a pioneering early glass artist. “In the sixties, we often joked that mentors were glassblowers who had only a few more hours experience than their ‘students.’”

In 1971, a small group of studio glass artists started the Glass Art Society to share information, techniques, and enthusiasm. Their first meeting of nineteen glassblowers took place in Penland’s original glass studio. It was deemed such a success that they arranged a second meeting a year later, also at Penland. Henry Halem, one of the artists who attended the GAS II meeting, recently posted video footage showing Penland, these early glass artists, and the camaraderie of the meeting. “Hopefully this jiggly underexposed film will give you a bit of what it was like in those early days,” he wrote.

Take a look at the video below to see just how far the studio glass movement has come—and also the things about craft at Penland that haven’t changed a bit.
 

 

For more information about the history of the Glass Art Society, read Fritz Dreisbach’s full account on the GAS website.

 

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Empty Bowls Follow-Up

empty bowls crew at penland

The fall Empty Bowls event was a great success, raising $1350 that went to Shepherd’s Staff, which runs a food bank here in Mitchell County. Instead of the usual dinner, this event took place for a week during lunchtime in the Penland Coffee House. Each participant donated $20 and got tasty soup from the Penland kitchen in a bowl donated by someone in the fall clay workshop. And, of course, they got to keep the bowl. A poster for the event was made in the print studio with contributions from the clay folks and the sign painters. In the front are Shepherd’s Staff director Martha Gordon (with poster) and board chair Bill Sweetser. They are joined by the students and instructors from the clay studio (Pat Nevin was added to the picture later) and, in the back, the folks from the kitchen who made the soup. Bill said the money would go straight to Thanksgiving dinners. Thanks, everyone, for helping to build community through craft. More about Empty Bowls here.

 

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