Penland Gallery – The Penland Sketchbook The official Penland School of Crafts blog Sun, 14 Jan 2018 18:29:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Penland Gallery – The Penland Sketchbook 32 32 Contemporary Ceramics at the Penland Gallery Fri, 02 Jun 2017 15:39:01 +0000 Ceramic work by Shalene Valenzuela, Jeremy R. Brooks, and Roberto Lugo.
Works from “Within the Margins.” From left to right: “Ironing Things Out: Various Notions” by Shalene Valenzuela, “(Altered) Young Man’s Fancy” by Jeremy R. Brooks, and “Basquiat and Celia Teapot” by Roberto Lugo.


The Penland Gallery presents Within the Margins: Contemporary Ceramics, an exhibition curated by Steven Young Lee, in the John and Robyn Horn Gallery. Seventeen artists are represented in the exhibition with mostly narrative ceramic sculpture in a wide range of forms and styles. The exhibition runs from May 30 through July 16 with a gallery talk at 3:30 PM on Saturday, June 3 and a reception to follow from 4:30 to 6:30 PM.

The group of artists is quite varied in terms of their cultural backgrounds and personal histories, and this is reflected in the content of the work. Shalene Valenzuela, for example, says of her bright-colored earthenware and porcelain sculptures: “My narratives explore topics ranging from fairytales, urban mythologies, consumer culture, societal expectations, etiquette, and coming-of-age issues.” Sculptor Sunkoo Yuh makes complex pieces that are often groupings of forms including plants, animals, fish, and human figures. He describes his process this way: “I draw images intuitively and spontaneously with ink and brush. I study my drawings and select a few to transform into three-dimensional clay sculptures. My work expresses my inner emotions, communications about life, and directly draws from mundane experiences.”

Curator Steven Young Lee is the resident artist director of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana. He has lectured extensively in North America and Asia including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. His work was recently featured as part of “Visions and Revisions: Renwick Invitational 2016” at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

In describing his intent for the exhibition, Lee said, “The exhibition includes artists who, while residing within one set of perceived margins or another, are working from within to expand or redefine those boundaries, ultimately shifting the lines of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, cultural identity, or material association. Each artist is articulating a world view, and the most important aspect of their work is the sincerity of their investigation and quality of their execution. The title, Within the Margins, recognizes that while boundaries do exist, the mere fact of their existence invites—if not demands—that they be confronted, challenged and reshaped.”


Three ceramic plates featuring the letters E, F, and G
E, F, and G plates by Holly Walker from “Abecedarium | Envisioned.”


Also on view, in the Focus Gallery, is a small-format exhibition of functional ceramics by Holly Walker. She specializes in handbuilt earthenware and approaches the surfaces of her pots as a painter, brushing colored slips over the clay surface and then layering them with multiple glazes. This exhibition is titled Abecedarium/Envisioned because it includes an installation of twenty-six plates whose designs are inspired by the letters of the alphabet. The gallery talk at 3:30 on Saturday, June 3 will include remarks from both Steven Young Lee and Holly Walker.

The Visitors Center Gallery has an ongoing display of objects that illuminate the history of Penland School, while the Lucy Morgan Gallery presents a selection of work by dozens of Penland-affiliated artists. On display outside the Penland Gallery is a monumental steel sculpture by Hoss Haley and two new stone installations by Carl Peverall.

The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM and Sunday, Noon-5:00 PM; it is closed on Mondays. For more information call 828-765-6211 or visit





Elephants at the Gallery Fri, 15 Jul 2016 20:07:51 +0000 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.














This Is a Photograph | Penland Gallery Exhibition Mon, 21 Mar 2016 22:10:11 +0000 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.


One Weekend, Two Shows Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:55:04 +0000 Penland has not one but two groups of super-talented artists living and creating on campus: our resident artists and our core fellows. And next weekend, they will put on not one but two gorgeous shows to display their recent creations. Mark your calendar down for the evening of October 9, and mark down the afternoon of October 10 as well. Both openings will be well worth attending.


Core show poster


Personal Effects: Core Show 2015
Opening Reception October 9, 8:00-11:00pm, Northlight Hall

Personal Effects brings together pieces by Penland’s nine talented core fellows: Jamie Karolich, Joshua Kovarik, Meghan Martin, Emily Rogstad, Tyler Stoll, Elmar Fujita, Daniel Garver, Morgan Hill, and Bryan Parnham. The core fellows design and curate the show, and it’s a rare opportunity for them to display the sum of all the thinking, learning, and creating they do in their individual classes and studio practices.

If you can’t make the opening (or you just want a second look), the core show will also be open to the public from 12:00-6:00pm on October 10 and 11 and from 4:00-6:00pm on October 12 and 13.


promotional image for the upcoming resident artist show


The Barns: 2015
Opening Reception October 10, 4:30-6:30pm, Gallery North

The Barns: 2015 will be the first opportunity to see work from Penland’s current group of resident artists all together. Our newest residents Dean Allison, Maggie Finlayson, Seth Gould, and Tom Jaszczak will display their work alongside that of Annie Evelyn, Andrew Hayes, Mercedes Jelinek, and Jaydan Moore, who joined the program a year ago. The show will reflect the varied interests and talents of our residents, with works in cast glass, clay, metal, and photography alongside furniture, printmaking, and mixed media sculpture.

The Barns: 2015 will be on view this fall in Penland’s Gallery North from October 6 through November 15. Students and guests on campus are encouraged to stop by during their visits.


Books & Pictures: an interview with Michelle Moode Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:24:57 +0000 141001Moode5028WP
Michelle Moode, hanging books from the installation “All the Little Stories About Nothing”


Michelle Moode: Works on Paper is on view until November 6, 2014 in the Penland Gallery, and available online in the gallery’s shop. I corresponded recently with Michelle about her current work, process, and intentions.–Elaine Bleakney


You’ve written that your work aims to give a visual representation of thought, to evoke the process of thinking. What is it about thinking that connects to or feeds the flame of your impulse to make art?

When I’m working, and particularly when I’m drawing, my brain goes everywhere: daydreaming, asking myself questions, remembering things, making up stories. The repetitive tasks that I employ, (like stitching or drawing patterns) do not always require actively making choices, so my mind wanders. I’ve never particularly enjoyed talking, and I tend to have some trouble with words, but there is a freedom of thought that comes with making things and being in my own head. I hope a person looking at my work might have an experience comparable to mine: asking questions, looking closely, remembering things from piece-to-piece, but also feeling a bit overwhelmed or perplexed by all the “bits of stuff.”


"Eights & Old Poppies," etching on Japanese papers, wool thread
“Eights & Old Poppies,” etching on Japanese papers, wool thread

I like that wandering enters into it, and how that implies a freedom from typical borders. In addition to making books and pictures, you have ‘bookkeeper’ as a job title. Have you thought about your job and your calling to make art as activities in correspondence with each other?

Well, I think the real trick is to try to see them as connected. There is some amount of record-keeping and note-taking that goes into my art work, and I am generally attracted to stacks of paper. I like to think abstractly about all the information and data I work with in my day-job.


There’s a happy-go-lucky presence I experience in your abstractions, a friendliness I find in the stacks and layers, marks and moments of text. Would you say that this is something you bring to your work?

No, I don’t think I would say that. I’m fine with the work seeming friendly, but it is not intentionally so. The phrase “happy-go-lucky” makes me think of something frivolous and maybe a bit haphazardly put together. I don’t think that’s true of my work. There’s a lot of care and intricate work in there. I hope it’s a bit puzzling to someone looking at it, but maybe it’s a friendly, clever sort of puzzle. Like a scavenger hunt.


Speaking of puzzles, I’m curious about a piece you have in this show called “Math,” and how a title like this one arrives for you: as you were making the piece? How is making a title for a work associated with the work?

A lot of my titles arrive after the piece is made, by looking at what is contained in the piece. In the case of “Math” I was thinking about math long before I made the piece. That text is etched into a zinc etching plate I made at least three years ago, and appears (very tiny) on the piece. Again, this is why I love etching, and reusing old plates in never-ending variations: there’s so much history in the work.


You attended the Paper & Book Intensive at Ox-Bow this summer. How did that experience affect you and your work?

This year at the Paper & Book Intensive I had my very first experience with papermaking, (with Ann Marie Kennedy and Kerri Cushman) which was a huge deal for me. Paper has always been an important component of the different sorts of work I do, and my time at PBI has really pointed me toward continuing my book arts education. I met so many amazing people at PBI; this was really my first experience being surrounded by book enthusiasts from a variety of professions and backgrounds. We spent our time learning, working, having nerdy conversations, teaching each other things outside of our classes, as well as canoeing, playing poker, playing word games, and adventuring in the woods. I am extremely grateful I had the opportunity to attend this year.


Detail of "To the Memory of (Rocks & Berries)", etching, monotype on Japanese papers, wool thread
Detail of “To the Memory of (Rocks & Berries),” etching, monotype on Japanese papers, wool thread


Do you have a favorite word at the moment, and if so, why is it your favorite?

I think “ampersand” is a favorite word right now. One piece in this show is titled “Purposeful Ampersand.” The word has an interesting etymology, and it is a name of a thing (I like knowing the names of things) and that thing is a symbol. &. What’s not to like?!


View more of Michelle Moode: Works on Paper here


obsevatorymichelleMichelle C. Moode is a mixed media artist. She grew up in Southern California, and spent her high school and college years in Murray, Kentucky. She received her BFA from Murray State University in 2003, and an MFA in Printmaking from West Virginia University in 2007. Through the years she has also learned things at the Penland School of Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Frogmans Print and Paper Workshops. She moved to North Carolina from Los Angeles in 2011, seeking a drastic change of scenery. In addition to making books, she is currently the bookkeeper at the gallery at the Penland School of Crafts.


Pick & mix: Heather Mae Erickson in the Penland Gallery Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:55:05 +0000 Now open until October 26 in the Penland Gallery is a new Focus exhibition: Heather Mae Erickson: Pick Mix / All Sorts Collection 2014. “Pick mix” plays into the language and experience of the candy shop where customers have an array of confectionary colors, shapes, surfaces, and possibilities at their finger tips.


White/Yellow Cupcake Cup, slip cast porcelain with underglazes, mason stains, and glaze, 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 in.



The candy names that I remember are inspiration enough
to conjure interesting forms and surfaces: Spogs, Strawberry Pencils,
Gobstoppers, Black Jacks, Sour Dummies, Flying Saucers, Fried Eggs,
Jazzles. Just as in the bins and bags at the candy store, I am mixing the
multiple types of objects and allowing users to create
their own sets and compositions. Ultimately the user gets to decide if a
dot is as interesting as a pin stripe or a heart or a bunny or a star.

To touch upon process, the use of multiple types of clays, firing methods, and surface decoration application lend to more variety of candy-coated objects. I use hand-cut or die-cut paper resists on greenware, sponging on greenware and bisqueware, stickers for the outlines of shapes on bisqueware, and different widths of vinyl tapes on greenware.I am pleased when one thinks something looks perfect at a distance but when viewed up close they see variation in a dot or a pattern. Underglazes and mason stains in glazes and casting slip give most of the color in the patterned or solid color work.–Heather Mae Erickson



All works included in Heather Mae Erickson: Pick Mix / All Sorts Collection 2014 are available for purchase online at the Penland Gallery.


Blue Dot L Dish, slip cast porcelain with underglazes, mason stains, and glaze, 1 x 5 x 7 in.
Blue Dot L Dish, slip cast porcelain with underglazes, mason stains, and glaze, 1 x 5 x 7 in.


Erickson1-WPHeather Mae Erickson is an artist, craftsperson, and designer. She is currently Assistant Professor of Ceramics and Studio Art at Western Carolina University in Cullowee, North Carolina. Heather has held residencies from the Archie Bray Foundation and The Clay Studio (PA), and in 2004 received a Fulbright fellowship to conduct independent research at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. She has earned numerous awards, including first place for the Horizon Award presented by the Museum of Art and Design in New York and honorable mentions at the Korea Biennale International 2007 & 2009 Exhibitions.


Snapshots from a Penland tour Thu, 12 Jun 2014 15:35:47 +0000
It's important to stay hydrated on a Penland tour. After stopping at the Penland coffee shop, we head up to the Drawing & Painting studio, where instructor Michael Dixon's students are working on self portraits.
Mikaela Darnell draws herself with her left hand. All the students in this workshop are drawing themselves with their non-dominant hand as a morning exercise.
Next door, in the Books studio, studio assistant Cheryl Prose pops out to show us the vats, fibers, and watery containers used in Eastern papermaking.
Check out the goo! (We check out the full spread of beautiful hardware and materials too.)
On the porch of the glass studio, our intrepid Penland tour guide, Val Schnaufer, prepares us for the awesomeness that is the hot shop.
Behold the awesomeness.
At this point, the other members of this tour (student-artists from Carolina Friends School in Durham, NC) are growing weary of my camera. And rightly so. But look! Instructor Katie Hudnall stops to talk with us about how her students are working intuitively with wood.
From the Wood studio we walk to Photography (where we disappear in the darkroom) and then over to Print, where instructor Kristin Martinic dazzles us with her work--prints inspired by swimming and swimming pools.
She is fun.
We peek into the Penland clay studios. Out back, Joe Pintz demonstrates a mold-making technique to his class, which we only catch a glimpse of because DEMOS ARE SACRED and Penland tours totally respect this.
Meanwhile, we climb the wood steps of Lily Loom House to visit Nick DeFord's embroidery-on-paper workshop. The students stitch and chat about local thrift shops, a potential Asheville trip, and how to find Black Mountain College.
Their table is a mountain of inspiration.
 It's hard to end a Penland tour. Thank you to our wonderful guide Val, the Penland Gallery staff, Amelia Shull, and the young artists from Carolina Friends School for visiting and letting us tag along.


Interested in taking a Penland tour? Tours are free and start at the Penland Gallery and Visitors Center every Wednesday, March through early December, 1:30 PM. Reservations are required. Please call the gallery at (828) 765-6211 to schedule a tour.