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Penland Gallery Artist of the Week – Rob Pulleyn, Ceramist

 

Big Jaw Vase
Big Jaw Vase

Rob has been showing his work in our gallery since 2005. Although Rob pays homage to the vase form, the work is equally respectful of sculptural vessels – robust, grounded forms with necks, collars and strong shoulders. The vessels are subtle and complex; the matte surfaces are treated to Rob’s language of mark making and edges have as much significance as the larger fields on the sides of the pots. There is a studied seriousness throughout his work; a well considered relationship with the material.

Rob founded Fiberarts Magazine in 1975, and later Lark Books in Asheville NC, that publishes some great craft books including our Penland series. Lately he is behind the project Marshall High Studios, the renovation of an old high school building into artist studios here in western North Carolina. He currently serves on our board of trustees, providing support and endless dry humor. Clearly he is not a lazy man.

No surprise that when he began doing ceramic work he took it on 200%. Since 1999, Rob has taken ten classes at Penland. Most have been in the clay studios, but just to keep everyone on their toes, he has taken drawing, glass, and iron classes as well.

 

 

Weight
Weight

About Rob

I’ve been involved in the crafts/arts field in general and the fiber arts specifically for more than 30 years.  This includes a checkered history as a tapestry weaver beginning in the early 70’s.  Besides the design process, what I enjoyed most was the experience of the “hand” of the material.

That led me to ceramics in the 1990’s.  I am in love with the basic material of ceramics: wet clay.  While it took many years for the materials and techniques of textiles to become familiar to me, I have, for some wonderful reason, become comfortable with the language of clay in less than a decade.  Working in clay is exhilarating, frightening, and totally satisfying.

While I have no academic background in clay (my undergraduate and graduate study was in Sociology and Anthropology), I have studied under some great ceramics teachers, all at the Penland School of Crafts.  They include: George Bowes (1999), Richard Notkin (2000), Steven Heinemann (2001), Yih-Wen Kuo (2002), Richard Burkett and Lana Wilson (2004), and Anne Hirondelle (2005). 

 

 

Helm
Helm

About the Work

I use high fire clays. My work is decorated with multiple layers of underglazes, stains, and oxides, which means that most pieces are fired many times. I don’t want to obliterate the clay itself, so I rarely use glazes. 

 I am most creative when I’m working within self-defined restrictions. My ceramic work for the last several years has had as its restriction the ability of the pieces to hold water and thus flowers or stems. Some of my forms are obvious in this, others less so.  I think of my work as sculpture with a hidden ability to be functional. Commissions also give me restrictions, which is why I enjoy them.

 I play with the surfaces of the clay both before and after I build the vessels. With each piece, I force myself to do something I’ve never done before. This means each piece is an experiment of sorts. It also means I destroy a lot of evidence, but it keeps the anxiety level sufficiently high and the joy of success addictively sweet.

 While I’m creating, all the world, all speech, and all time stops. It’s a selfish process. But, I am extremely happy with the result of that process somehow speaks to me…..and others. It’s all a mystery, of course, but isn’t that the underlying attraction? 

Penland Gallery web page

Marshall High Studios

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Penland Gallery Artist of the Week – Sondra Dorn, Textile Artist

Cicada Wings
Mica Composition with Cicada Wings

Sondra is a full time studio fiber artist who received her MFA from the University of Washington in 1996. She has been involved with Penland School as a work-study student in 1991, a Core Fellowship student from 1992 to 1994, and a Resident Artist from 1997 to 2001. She has also generously donated her artwork to our annual fundraising auction many times since her days in the residency program.

Sondra deftly joins digital technology and traditional fiber techniques to create works that showcase her love of color and pattern. Poke berries, cicadas, mica, maple leaves, wild leeks, ferns, and protozoa all have been translated by Sondra via her computer and onto her cloth. Add some seriously detailed hand and machine stitching and the end result is a textile painting, with multiple layers of texture and intense organic color. We have been showing Sondra’s work for nearly 10 years in the gallery and although her work has altered and grown over the years – collectively the work beautifully represents her viewpoint and voice through her textiles.

About Sondra

Protozoa Forms
Mica Composition with Protozoa Forms

I knew I wanted to be an artist when I was young, but the first time I decided to plunge myself full-tilt into this career didn’t come until 1991. It was the first time I ever went to Penland as a work-study student and my instructor, Randall Darwall, an amazing weaver and teacher, read our class a quote from Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”

I think that really was the moment I saw that there might be a way to make my art my life’s work. I have tried to stay true to this path through many ups and downs. My work has always been the lens through which I view the world.

I love color and pattern and I see it everywhere. I love to find common objects and examine them until I find the compositions and patterns and colors within that may not be apparent on first glance. These discoveries are the backbone of my current work.

I now live in Asheville, North Carolina with my cat and surrounded by amazing creative energy and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Ferns in Forest
Ferns in Forest

About the Work

I create my work by bringing together my love of textiles and traditional techniques with my fascination in new technologies. The images are derived from actual objects scanned into the computer, manipulated and enhanced. This is then digitally printed with dyes on 100% linen fabric. I then embellish my piece with hand embroidery, free motion machine embroidery and appliqué of hand dyed linen.

I love the twining of disparate images and approaches, some rooted in the craft tradition of textiles and others based on contemporary technologies. Instead of seeing these objects, images, colors and processes as completely unlike, I wonder and seek their sameness in how they speak to me and to each other.

Penland Gallery web page

Sondra’s website

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Penland Gallery Artist of the Week – Sam Stang, Glassblower

 

Murrini Bottle
Murrini Bottle

Sam first came to Penland as a student in 1983, and returned just over ten years later to teach, which lucky for us, he continues to do every few years. We have been showing his work in the gallery since 2007, both in exhibits and in the sales gallery. (He will be sending work for the upcoming Weight of Black exhibit later this month.) 

Sam’s work reveals itself in layers. First there is the color – he is generous with saturated reds and oranges, and a judicious use of black. Then he edits the forms, keeping them classic and elegant – all the best to carry his skill with the murrini techniques. It seems once you have mastered a traditional technique you have license to play with it – and Sam makes it look effortless. There was a bottle with white cane work that looked like controlled scribbling – soft and loose and perfectly done all at the same time. In contrast – there are pieces that are precise and orderly – wild only in his use of exuberant color. There is much more to the work than meets the eye on first glance – and it would appear that is part of the attraction.
Sam has covered allot of ground since his early days at Penland. Both he and his glass have a quality of integrity, consideration, and professionalism that makes showing his work a pleasure.
Stang-3 
About Sam
Sam Stang was born in Northfield, Minnesota in 1959. He attended Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri from 1980 – 84. He studied with Fritz Dreisbach at Penland School of Crafts in 1983, and with Lino Tagliapietra at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in 1991. Sam was a founding partner in Ibex Glass Studio, 1985 – 1991. In 1992, he moved to Augusta, in rural south St. Charles County, where he remodeled an old auto repair shop and turned it into Augusta Glass Studio, which he still operates as a sole proprietorship. Stang is married to Kaeko Maehata, who is also a glassblower.

Murrini Bottle
Murrini Bottle
About the Work
All of my pieces are made by using traditional European glassblowing techniques. With the murrini pieces, I begin by making glass rods, which are patterned in cross section. The rods are cooled and cut into thin pieces and arranged on an iron plate, which is then heated to fuse the murrini. This is then rolled into a tube on the end of a blowpipe and shaped into the final form.
Every piece I make is entirely produced hot at the furnace. The banded bowls are blown as separate sections and fused together. This technique, known as incalmo, requires a great deal of skill and cooperation. I work with at least one assistant and often with a team of three experienced glassblowers.

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Penland Gallery Artist of the Week – Joanna Gollberg, Jeweler

Prong Necklace
Prong Necklace

We have been showing Joanna’s work for nearly 10 years in the gallery. Her relationship with the school has changed from student, to studio assistant, to extraordinary Penland instructor. She has been published quite a bit, including authoring a number of really smart metals books herself. Her work evolves and reinvents itself – pulling in some surprising materials and reinterpreting traditional techniques in ingenious ways.  The body of work we have been showing this spring is from her Prong Series – cut stones – some polished and others matte and rough – mostly set in delicate but exaggerated prong settings or clustered luxuriantly.  Not surprisingly, the work has a magnetic attraction.

Moss Brooch
Moss Brooch

About Joanna
My grandmother spent a large part of her life as an enamelist. In 1992, she gave me all her enamels and her enameling kilns. I decided to learn how to use them by taking a class at the Penland School of Crafts. I enjoyed this basic metalsmithing and enameling class so much that I set up my own beginner’s studio in the basement of the English building at my college. I continued to make jewelry while still studying for my BA degree. After graduating from Warren Wilson College in 1995, I went back to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology where I received a 2-year degree in Jewelry Design, after studying with some of New York’s most fabulous industry jewelers and designers. I began my jewelry business in 1997, and I currently spend my time making jewelry, teaching people how to make jewelry, and just absolutely loving my job. I live in my hometown of Asheville, NC with my husband, our son, two dogs, and a cat.

Prong Series Rings
Prong Series Rings

About the Work
My work is based on elementary design forms. I love using repetition of simple shapes in ways that make the forms come alive. It is exciting for me to explore the relationship of my hands with tools, and the tools with the material. I am interested in movement in my jewelry, and how the jewelry will move in relationship to the body when it is worn. I strive to make jewelry that is interesting and new, that reflects my way of looking at how things should be made, and that is wearable without going out of style.

Penland Gallery web page
Joanna’s website