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Photos of the Week: Celebrating Paulus Berensohn

The post is a photo slideshow. If you are seeing it in e-mail, we recommend viewing it on the blog.

The memorial structure on the knoll was designed and built by Jonah Stanford using Penland bamboo and shade-cloth panels (made from recycled plastic bottles).
People gathering on the knoll.
There were many little reunions as people gathered.
A procession to the knoll, with music.
Umbrellas came out and we took a little break while it poured for a bit.
Debra Frasier welcomed everyone as it started to rain.
As the rain subsided, Joy Seidler continued with the program.
The sun came out as Diann Fuller led everyone in a little bit of qigong.
Nick Joerling spoke about being Paulus's neighbor, friend, and landlord for many years.
David Perrin spoke about Paulus's role as "fairy godfather" to many young people--a number of those young people stood with him as he spoke.
Poet Stuart Kestenbaum read "Goldenrod," one of Paulus's favorite poems by his great friend Mary Oliver.
Debra Frasier and Joy Seidler took turns describing the many ways that Paulus made art and taught others -- dancing, clay, drawing, paste-paper, journals, letters, envelopes, color copies, etc.
Round singing finished out the program.
Everyone gathered for a picture.
In front of The Pines, some folks did the dance that Paulus used to end his workshops.
The last event was Splash -- a social gathering in honor of Paulus's daily ritual of welcoming anyone who showed up around 5:00 PM to join him for conversation and a bit of refreshment.
Splash featured Paulus's favorite drink: cheap scotch and grapefruit juice. It's really quite good.

On July 22, friends of artist and teacher Paulus Berensohn gathered at Penland to remember him. The day began with art making and a chance to visit Paulus’s house. At 3:30 everyone assembled on the knoll, where Jonah Stanford had created a beautiful structure for the event. (Photos by Robin Dreyer)

If you are looking for large files for the group picture, you can find them here and here.


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Photo(s) of the Week: Celebrating the 4th, Penland Style

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

The scene on main campus, waiting for the parade
Penland's development team went all out on their recreation of the historic Travelog!
Glitter and rainbows, y'all.
Jean and Jerry's Swan Song
These swans come bearing chocolate.
Miss Lucy Morgan and Miss Edwina Bringle riding along on the Travelog with Joan Glynn behind the wheel
Bringing back the Penland llamas
The one and only Cynthia Bringle, riding the Travelog
Llamas on the knoll!
The Travelog travels on!
Hall of Fame!
A July 4th emergency - wood class to the rescue!
Doug Sigler and his wood class
Bring back the unicorns! Bring back the unicorns!
Paraders of all ages welcome!
Don't thread on me!
A message from the quilt class
A quilted snake from the upper textiles quilting workshop
The Upper Clay Terra Cotta Army
Terra Cotta Army noisemakers
Chapter 1 of the narrative float (more creatures and bubbles to come!)
A wonderful creature (who later adorned the volleyball court)
Kirk, flame juggler
Prime picnic zone
Most Memorable, Most Patriotic, Most Industrious...
The crowd outside the Pines
Ice cream salespeople extraordinaire (aka core fellows)
I scream, you scream


The festivities were so much fun that we extended our Independence Day celebrations to two days this year! (Okay, the rain that started around dark on July 4th may have had something to do with it…) The parade featured some impressive entries, including a replica of Penland’s beloved Travelog, a giant unicorn, a quilted snake, a “Swan Song” float by departing director and deputy director Jean McLaughlin and Jerry Jackson, and even a multi-part narrative float by the students in IlaSahai Prouty’s community art workshop. And, despite the 24-hour delay, the fireworks show was an impressive site to behold. Big thanks to the Penland pyrotechnics crew, the parade participants, the trophy makers, the cheering crowds, and everyone else who came out to celebrate July 4th with us!


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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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Photo of the Week: Iron Pour!

Everybody loves an iron pour, because you’ve got flames, molten metal, face shields, leather suits, and a cheering crowd. Really, what more could you ask for?


The spring iron workshop, taught by Remy Louis Hanemann, has spent the last three weeks building a cupola furnace and all the tools needed for casting metal. This was the first test. It went well. (And it looked good, too.)



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Photo(s) of the Week: Community Open House 2017

learning to cast with pewter

Hands-on craft activities, a legion of wonderful volunteers, hundreds of eager visitors, and some beautiful spring weather all came together this past Saturday to make the 2017 Penland Community Open House a rousing success. Visitors tried their hands at perennial favorites like glassblowing and wheel throwing, as well as new additions like origami, sewn tote bags, and a letterpress scavenger hunt. We look forward to the open house every year as a way to welcome spring and bring together community members of all ages and skill levels. Thanks to all who participated for making it such a fun day!

In the photograph above, metals studio coordinator Ian Henderson guides two young visitors through the process of casting a spoon out of pewter. It took mere minutes to transform the hot, pourable metal into a spoon to take home and enjoy.


two people get their portrait taken

Meanwhile, in the photo activity, Penland resident artist Mercedes Jelinek was busy taking hundreds of portraits of open house attendees. Everyone who sat for a portrait was able to take home their own black-and-white print.


learning to make a glass bead

Visitors to the flameworking studio got to work up close with torches and glass. Here, one attendee learns how to melt the colored glass and shape it around a metal rod to make a unique bead.

To see dozens more photos from the day’s activities, take a look at our complete album of Community Open House 2017 pictures. We hope they inspire you to join us for Community Day 2018!




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Northlight 2.0

A rendering of the front of the new Northlight complex

A rendering of the new Northlight complex, scheduled for completion by summer 2018. The structure was designed by Louis Cherry, FAIA LEED AP with landscape design by Walter Havener, RLA, LEED LP.


Northlight has long served as a community hub here at Penland. For over twenty-five years, students have started their mornings there with early yoga classes, enriched their evenings with instructor slide talks, and celebrated the end of sessions with auctions and show and tell displays. It has also hosted dances, parties, symposiums, weddings, memorial services, benefit auction art displays, theatrical performances, core shows, lectures, and other events. The planning for the original building began around 1984, they broke ground in 1987, and construction was completed by 1991 thanks to a big push of community energy led by then-director Hunter Kariher and maintenance man Harold Jones. Shortly thereafter, the Fall 1991 issue of the Penland Line praised the project with these words:

The Northlight Building has added to the quality of the experience for Penland students because there is now a place in a central location where everyone can fit under the same roof at the same time. Northlight has enabled us to bring all of the studios to the center of campus.


man balancing on a building under construction

This image from the Penland archives was taken during the construction of the original Northlight building in the late 1980s.


Northlight earned a special place in many of our hearts, but it also caused a few headaches in its time. To name a few, it tended to flood in heavy rains; its heating, ventilation, and electrical systems could be lacking; the acoustics left something to be desired; it was the only building we’ve ever seen with a gutter on the inside (long story); and current building code requirements had long since left it behind. Nevertheless, it served us well for a long time.


Northlight as we knew it for many years.


Now, thanks to the gifts of many generous supporters and friends, we are building Northlight 2.0. The new Northlight complex will house state-of-the-art papermaking and photography studios and two levels of social space for slides, exhibitions, orientation meetings, auctions, movement classes, and more. The studios have been planned with close participation from Penland staff and instructors to allow increased flexibility and range in our workshop programming. The social area will enhance Northlight’s important role as a place to build community and bring people together at Penland, complete with a kitchen, gallery space, common room, landscaped outdoor areas, porches, and yes, those beloved rocking chairs looking out over the mountains. Floods will be a thing of the past and landscape features will help mitigate runoff problems in the lower part of campus. The new space will be accessible and adaptable. In short, we think it will be an amazing addition to the Penland campus, and we are eagerly anticipating its completion (planned for summer 2018).


Rendering of Northlight and surrounding landscaping

The new Northlight will encourage interaction, both between individuals and with the surrounding landscape.


Of course, as with all dear friends, we prefer to say “see you later” to the old Northlight than to wish the structure a permanent goodbye. We are excited that members of the Penland community have been carefully salvaging siding, rafters, windows, and other materials to give these pieces new life in other projects. Former resident artist and woodworker Tom Shields has been collecting hemlock boards from the exterior to use in the construction of his new studio in Asheville. Penland grant writer Nancy Lowe has saved some of the big windows from the face of the building to create a greenhouse in her garden. Wood studio coordinator Ellie Richards has recovered flooring and windows with the hope of incorporating them into a tiny house someday. And some of the siding and flooring will be used in the new building.


man removing nails from wood boards with a hammer

Tom Shields removing old nails from the Northlight siding he is hoping to use to build his new studio.


So in a summer or two, when you’re at Penland for a workshop or an artist talk or a July 4th community celebration, we hope your enjoyment of Northlight will be twofold—once in appreciating the beauty and functionality of the new structure, and once again in knowing that the old building lives on in the hearts, minds, and creative endeavors of our community.


See more photos of the Northlight deconstruction project in the slideshow below. (If you are reading this post as an email, we recommend viewing it on the blog.)


The photo studio all cleared out
A view through the papermaking studio of ground being cleared to make way for the new building.
Salvaged windows waiting to be transported to their next homes.












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Studio Practices: Penland 9

concrete tiles, clay vases, and photography

Works from “Studio Practices: Penland 9” by Ian Henderson, Susan Feagin, and Betsy DeWitt


Penland’s team of studio coordinators can generally be found working behind the scenes to support the hundreds of artists that come through our studios every year with their knowledge and skill. But they’re also accomplished artists in their own right, and we’re thrilled that their personal work is on display in the Main Gallery of the Turchin Center at Appalachian State University through June. Studio Practices: Penland 9 includes sculptural, functional, and two-dimensional pieces in a variety of media. The artists address a broad range of themes in their work, from secrecy and family memories to language and play. “Working together to support the practices of other artists at Penland has given the talented coordinators a remarkable synergy,” the show’s curator states. “Their artwork is individually strong and compatible with one another – creating a dynamic and moving installation.”

Studio Practices: Penland 9 features Daniel T. Beck (steel sculpture), Betsy DeWitt (photography), Susan Feagin (ceramics), Melanie Finlayson (printmaking), Jay Fox (paper and print), Nick Fruin (glass), Ian Henderson (concrete and metals), Ellie Richards (wood), and Amanda Thatch (textiles and drawing).


wood sculpture, steel and cement sculpture, weavings

Pieces by Ellie Richards, Daniel Beck, and Amanda Thatch


The show is on view Tuesday-Saturday through June 3, 2017. In addition to regular gallery hours, visitors are encouraged to explore the exhibition further through the following events:

Friday, February 3, 6-9 PM: “Fizzy First Friday” Reception
Come view Studio Practices: Penland 9 and the Turchin Center’s three other new exhibitions while enjoying snacks, drinks, and music.

Friday, April 7, 6-10 PM: Spring Exhibition Celebration
Explore the Turchin Center’s galleries and exhibitions, meet the artists, and have a cocktail or a snack.

Wednesday, April 12: TCVA Lecture Series: Penland Coordinators I
Hear Melanie Finlayson, Daniel T. Beck, Nick Fruin, Amanda Thatch, and Susan Feagin discuss their studio practices.

Wednesday, April 19: TCVA Lecture Series: Penland Coordinators II
Listen to Ian Henderson, Ellie Richards, Jay Fox, and Betsy DeWitt as they talk about their studios and work.





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