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Stuart Kestenbaum on the Craft School Experience

portrait of Stuart Kestenbaum

Photo by Gabe Souza

 

Congratulations to Stuart Kestenbaum, who completed 27 years as the director of our sister school Haystack Mountain School of Crafts at the end of May. And congratulations to everyone at Penland, who will have the pleasure of Stuart’s company for two weeks later this summer craft_school_experiencewhen he will be a participant in the Andrew Glasgow Writing Residency.

Stuart will also continue to be involved with the Craft School Experience, which is a consortium of five schools working together to promote craft workshop education. Stuart wrote a short article for the consortium’s website talking about his time at Haystack and his belief in the power and importance of this kind of immersive craft education. You can read the article here.

 

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Photo of the Week: Kiln Break

Michael Kieghery at Penland

Internationally-known ceramic and performance artist Michael Kieghery taking a break in the Penland wood kiln. Michael was part of a special summer session that was taught entirely by artists from Australian National University.

“What’s it like in there, Michael?”
“It’s wonderful! I have a beautiful view of the mountains, it’s cool, and nobody cares if I smoke.”

 

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Ribbon Cutting!

ribbon cutting at Penland

On June 4, Penland had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly-opened Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation Studio, which is the building that now houses our book arts and drawing/painting studios. Among the many folks cutting the ribbon were representatives of the Penland board, the Penland staff, G.E.M. Constructors (who built the building), the committee of artists who consulted on the studio spaces, and the Phillips Family.

 

 

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Rebuilding the “Julia”

“Penland has plenty of kilns sitting outside the ceramic studio – and the kilns have names. There’s Lucille, for one. There’s Jin Jin for another. Then there’s the Julia kiln. “Julia” is named after my wife Julia Terr, a former student and teaching assistant at Penland. She died in 2009.

“The original Julia kiln was built with the help of the Julia Terr Fund for Ceramic Arts which was formed to help support non-profit clay communities to underwrite the building or purchase of kilns. When word spread on social media that the Julia kiln at Penland was being rebuilt, I received messages from friends and total strangers describing to me the pots they took from the shelves of Julia over the past four years. The Julia kiln fired hundreds and hundreds of pots during its time, pots that got cleaned up, packed up and taken home to keep as reminders of knowledge gleamed in workshops. A friend told me she owns a bowl from the Julia kiln that has served her granola and yogurt every morning for the past two years.

 

JuliaKiln

 

After repeated firings, the Julia kiln required repairs; our fund stepped in to help. In April, I traveled to Penland to assist kiln-builder and potter Will Baker to construct “Julia 2.” As I handed bricks to Will, the floor and the walls of the new kiln began to appear, rising up off the kiln pad as if it were the most natural thing in the world. In a flash, I pictured the interior of the new Julia kiln, and how it would house and fire another generation of Penland pots.  I could almost imagine the hundreds of cups, mugs and bowls and the people behind theses pots. The feeling was remarkable to experience, to visualize this new kiln as a tool for future potters at Penland and all the potential this new possibility encompasses for an artistic community. To me, kilns feel like instruments of hope: a glance inside a kiln and one can only imagine what will result, what shapes and forms will materialize as the temperature rises, what beautiful pots will finally emerge from the miracle of the heat.

“The kilns at Penland touch the lives of so many pots and, by extension, so many people. A new kiln called Julia 2 will impact more lives in the years to come. “Julia 2″ had its first firing in the Cynthia Bringle’s spring clay concentration in April 2015.”

–Vince Montague
vincemontague.com

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Working in Three Dimensions

Alex Stasko in the Penland clay studio

Student Alex Stasko working on a clay self-portrait in a first-session workshop taught by Pattie Chalmers. (Photo by Robin Dreyer)

 

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“It’s a Boot Life” with Lisa Sorrell

Bespoke cowboy boot maker Lisa Sorrell, who taught Working with Leather in the textiles studio last month, has made a video (#59 in her ongoing series “It’s a Boot Life“) about her Penland experience:

 

 

In this 10-minute webisode, Lisa shows off work by her Penland students, takes a glassblowing lesson with hotshop instructor Nancy Callan, and teaches you how to trim a leather insole. Enjoy!
 
 

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Char Walker Releases a Hawk

On April 24, we had a visit from Nina Fischesser, director of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute at Lees-McRae College. Nina was accompanied by her student Shannon Grangier, three red-tailed hawks, a barn owl, and Char Walker, who is a volunteer at the institute, a glassblower, and a veteran of twenty Penland glass Concentration workshops.

They were at Penland because Nina thought it was an ideal place to release Gunshot, a red-tailed hawk that was rehabilitated at the institute after being injured by shotgun pellets. She invited Char to do that actual release. (See video above.)

 

red-tailed hawks at penland school

The other hawks that came along are the institute’s “ambassadors.” These are birds who would not survive in the wild. They are trained to be calm around groups of people and are shown to visitors and at public events as a way of promoting wildlife conservation and the work of the institute. Here we see Shannon on the right with a red-tailed hawk and Nina on the left with a leucistic red-tailed hawk. Leucism is a genetic condition in which parts or all of an animal’s body surface lack cells capable of producing any type of pigment.

 

char walker with barn owl at penland school

Here’s Char with a barn owl.

 

hawk release at penland school

The event was attended by students, staff, and neighbors. As we were walking off the knoll, everyone kept repeating some version of, “Wow, we were here for that.”

 

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