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Photo of the Week: Warping Mill

Allie Dudley using a warping mill at Penland

Student Allie Dudley using a warping mill to measure out threads before warping a loom in the spring weaving workshop taught by Tommye McClure Scanlin and Bahkti Ziek.

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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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Penland Director Jean McLaughlin to Retire

portrait of Jean McLaughlin taken by resident artist Mercedes Jelinek

A recent portrait of Jean taken at Penland by resident artist Mercedes Jelinek.

Jean McLaughlin, director of Penland School of Crafts, will retire in December 2017. Jean began working at Penland in May 1998 and has presided over an extraordinary period of growth, development, and stabilization at the school.

During these two decades, Penland has built new studios, expanded programs and scholarships, conducted two successful fundraising campaigns, greatly solidified its base of support, and grown its endowment from $2.1 million to $17 million.

One of Jean’s first projects was to commission architect Abie Harris and landscape architect Sam Reynolds to create a campus master plan, which has guided the most visible changes at Penland. Major infrastructure upgrades include new studios for iron, wood, printmaking, letterpress, drawing and painting, and book arts, with construction underway for new photography and papermaking studios. The clay, metals, glass, and textiles studios were improved or expanded. There were major renovations to historic Horner Hall and The Pines, and many other old buildings were repaired or renovated. Several new housing structures were built, and attention was paid to accessibility and safety campus-wide.

Under Jean’s leadership, the school was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Penland School of Crafts Historic District, and the Jane Kessler Memorial Archives was established to preserve Penland’s history. Dozens of new scholarships were endowed, the workshop program was expanded, a writing residency was established, and new programs were created to serve the local community. All of this was made possible through a significant expansion of the staff and the support of a devoted board of trustees. Jean’s accomplishments were recently honored nationally when she received a 2016 Distinguished Educator’s Award from the James Renwick Alliance.

 

cutting the ribbon for the opening of new studio buildings

Jean leads a group at the ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation Studio in 2015.

 

“I came to Penland with big aspirations,” says Jean. “I knew how powerfully the school had affected the lives of artists, and I knew how important its history had been to the craft movement in our country. My desire was to make change happen that would evolve and improve Penland without losing its distinctive character. Looking back, I see so many moments that fill me with pride—accomplishments that were made possible through the wise counsel and enthusiastic support of many people. I am grateful to have been part of making these important and needed improvements happen.”

Speaking for the board of trustees, chair Alida Fish said, “The quality of Jean McLaughlin’s leadership has been extraordinary—an inspiration to us all. For the past two decades, she has provided a vision keenly focused on growth and innovation. Thanks to her unwavering commitment, Penland is now well positioned for continuing success.”

Later in the year, we’ll have celebrations and going-away parties and post an interview with Jean, but for now we’ll just say, thank you for everything.

A more comprehensive list of what has been accomplished at Penland in the last 19 years can be found here.

 

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Announcing Penland’s Newest Resident Artists

At long last! Our 2017 Resident Artist Program selection process is complete. We received an outstanding pool of 61 applications from across the United States for the four available positions. Our selection committee did an excellent job reviewing and evaluating applications; it is a thorough process, and we couldn’t do it without the time and energy they give so generously. Thank you to everyone involved in this year’s selection.

We would like to officially announce and welcome four new resident artists who will arrive at Penland September 15, 2017 to begin their three-year residencies.

 

Eleanor Annand

Eleanor Annand

“The expressive qualities of a line and the development of visual history are at the root of my work. I create drawings, paintings and prints that tell the story of my line. Process is at the forefront of this exploration. In a state of deep meditation I search for order and progress amidst a restless mind. Through scribed and abraded surfaces images emerge as representations of this often raw state of mind.”

Eleanor Annand currently lives in Asheville, NC, where she has been co-owner and art director at 7 Ton Design & Letterpress Company since 2015. She maintains a studio practice and exhibits her prints, drawings, and paintings on steel at galleries throughout the US and Canada. She has a Bachelor of Graphic Design from the College of Design at North Carolina State University and was a core fellow at Penland from 2010-2012. In 2016 she taught at Penland for the first time. This winter Ele is a resident at the Jentel Artists Residency Program in Banner, WY. During her residency at Penland, Ele plans to develop innovative uses for the press using printed and folded paper; combine printing, mark making, and design to create new work; and explore new formats for her work at a larger scale.

 

Yoonjee Kwak

Yoonjee Kwak

“In Korea, when people talk about someone’s personality, we often use vessel as a metaphor of one’s spirit of tolerance… When I work with clay, my interactive conversation with the clay is vital to the process. While I slowly build up clay coils from the bottom, my hand marks remain on the surface. It records elements of movement, time and my feelings.”

Originally from South Korea, Yoonjee Kwak currently lives in Rochester, NY, where she is a resident artist at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She exhibits her functional objects and sculpture throughout the US and South Korea. She received a BFA in Ceramics and Glass at Hong-Ik University in Seoul, South Korea before earning her MFA in Ceramics at the School for American Crafts (SAC) at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2014.
She was selected as a 2016 Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly and was a summer resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana that same year. Yonjee has spent time at Penland as both a student and a studio assistant. During her residency she intends to expand the scale and scope of her work, experimenting with installation and the relationships created among multiple works presented as a group.

 

Matt Repsher

Matt Repsher

“I draw inspiration from architecture and how repetition is used to create structure and form in buildings. Using pots as my canvas, I carve and paint the surface to appear as if it is built by layers of arches, posts, lintels, and discs… My interest in pattern has moved me towards a long-term investigation of how the layers of carved and painted patterns can optically alter and manipulate the profile of my pots, visually stretching and compressing the vessels.”

Matt lives in Santa Fe, NM where he maintains a studio while teaching occasional workshops and classes. His work is represented by several esteemed craft galleries and has been shown throughout the US in group and solo exhibitions. Matt has a BFA from Pennsylvania State University and an MFA from Indiana University. He was the studio director at Santa Fe Clay from 2005-2008 and a resident artist at the Pocosin Arts Center (NC) from 2015-2016. Matt co-taught a concentration at Penland last fall. He looks forward to his residency at Penland as a way to be surrounded and influenced by the collective energy of artists working in all media. He plans to research pattern, material, and form through both 2D and 3D explorations.

 

Laura Wood

Laura Wood

“I began exploring the human form through dance. When I made the transition from dance to ornamentation to express my creative interests, one common thread emerged: a passion for the body and how this instrument is closely linked with our personal identities. This history of corporeal study will always be a driving force behind the work I create.”

Laura Wood is a jewelry artist living in Asheville, NC. Her work has been selected for many exhibitions throughout the US, most recently as a 2015 SNAG Emerging Jewelry Artist at SOFA Chicago. Her work can be found in select galleries throughout the US and in the permanent collections of the Gregg Museum of Art at North Carolina State University and The Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin. Laura was the founding voice of the annual ECU Symposium and is a co-founder of Jewelry Edition, a creative project to facilitate the growth of jewelry artists. Laura presented at the 2015 Yuma Arts Symposium and taught a spring metals concentration at Penland in 2016. She earned a BFA from the University of Georgia and an MFA from East Carolina University. As a resident artist Laura wants to expand her studio practice, amplify her teaching philosophy, and connect with the Penland community to better understand how artists can sustain and evolve a place in the craft world.

There will be three openings in the Resident Artist Program in 2018. The application deadline is January 15, 2018; artists working in all media will be eligible.

 

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Textile Labyrinth

Katie Wigglesworth at Penland School

Katie Wigglesworth walks slowly and purposefully around and through a series of loosely woven, veil-like panels suspended from the ceiling of Penland’s flex studio. As she walks, her heels click on the concrete floor and the textile walls she is walking through part slightly as she passes. Katie has just completed a textile installation she began at Penland during the 2016 winter residency. “This piece came from a need for calm,” she explains. “I was in a transition time in my life when I began weaving these panels. I started thinking of labyrinths and meditation walks as ways of centering yourself, and the idea grew out of that.”

In 2015 she found out about Penland’s winter residency program from pictures posted on Instagram by a friend of a friend. She applied and was accepted for two weeks of residency in 2016. Katie works for a textile artist in Los Angeles making weavings on a tapestry loom, and this is how she has made most of her own textile work. But the Penland studio would give her access to floor looms, so she decided it was time she learned how to use one.

Katie Wigglesworth at Penland SchoolKatie has a friend whose grandmother is a weaver and belongs to a weaving group that meets every Wednesday night at an adult education center in Covina, California. “They have a group space with 150 looms,” she said. “They call their Wednesday night sessions a ‘class’ and they’ve been going on for eighty years. I was the youngest person there.” The other weavers taught her the basics of the floor loom, and in the 2016 residency she began working on her current project.

The panels are unpatterened plainweave made from white tencel yarn. Katie works the loom with a light touch so the weft threads are not compressed and retain some waviness. Each panel is about three feet wide and eight feet tall. While they are technically simple, their shimmering, diaphanous quality combined with Katie’s imagination makes them capable of transforming space.

After her 2016 residency, Katie continued weaving on Wednesday nights and then – after she got a loom – in her own studio. She used five panels to create an installation in a small gallery show, and as they accumulated, she began to imagine them creating a floor to ceiling labyrinth. “I started looking around for a place where I could set it up long enough to look at it and document it, but space is hard to come by in LA. So I decided to apply for the Penland residency again and bring all the panels with me in the hope that there would be a space I could use here.”

 

Katie Wigglesworth at Penland School

 

In January, she flew back across the country with twenty-one panels in a suitcase and spent most of her two-week residency weaving ten more. At the end of the session, she was able to realize her idea in an undesignated space called the flex studio.

She installed the piece. It was beautiful. She photographed it. Other residents came to look at it and walk through it. She took it down. It all went into a suitcase and back to Los Angeles. Katie says she will probably keep weaving panels until she has a chance to create another installation – with the form likely to change depending on context. Which is to say it will doubtless be seen again.

 

 

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Capturing Change in Cloth

woman holding a panel woven in black and white

Kim Mirus in the textiles studio with the second of her five woven panels depicting the retreat of Alaska’s Muir Glacier.

 

As someone who works on Penland’s digital media, there’s often a computer screen between me and the moment-to-moment happenings in the studios. I experience workshops vicariously through the posts of Penland students, instructors, and residents, and I usually know these people by their Instagram handles before I know their real names.

Until recently, I knew Penland student and winter resident Kim Mirus only through the gorgeous images she shares of her work. I marveled at her ability to capture quiet details at the loom and the way she transformed sunlight, shadow, and fiber into rich visual moments. But it wasn’t until I visited her in the textiles studio this winter that I understood that Kim’s weavings, just like her photographs, are characterized by a thoughtful treatment of materials and a keen attention to the world around her. Many of her pieces address social and environmental topics; recent themes include juvenile incarceration, the near extinction of the American bison, and climate change.

 

weavings

Left: Kim’s five woven panels laid out in the weaving studio. Right: a detail of the third panel showing what is left of Muir Glacier today.

 

Kim used her time as a winter resident this January to weave samples, dye fibers, and explore new ideas. When I visited, she showed me the series of five woven panels she had just completed. The first is a black field with a large area of white woven into it. The second is similar, but the white area has shrunken noticeably and fragmented apart. In the third, only a small fraction of the central white area remains. It’s barely a smudge on the fourth panel, and the fifth is a solid square of black. “It’s the Muir Glacier in Alaska,” Kim tells me. “This is the area it covered in the oldest photographs I could find, over 100 years ago,” she continues, pointing to the first panel. “And this is how much of the glacier is left today.” She points to the third panel, and the pattern from there is clear: accelerated warming hastening glacial retreat until soon, the entire Muir Glacier will exist only in our photographs and memories.

Kim refers to these pieces as “woven data” because, like graphs or charts, they are visual representations of information presented on cloth. “I want to get people thinking about these issues,” she explains, “and I find that weaving is a non-confrontational way to start conversations that can sometimes be uncomfortable or divisive.”

 

Two images of Muir Glacier taken 63 years apart

Two photographs taken from the same spot in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The left image was captured August 13, 1941, and the right image was taken August 31, 2004. Muir Glacier retreated over 4.4 miles between the two images. (Image credits: William O. Field, Bruce F. Molnia)

 

Kim’s Muir Glacier series is a beautiful example of how craft can be a powerful tool—not just for its beauty or for the skill inherent in its creation, but for its power to open up new lines of communication. Indeed, it was the graphic pattern and texture that drew me to her work, but it’s the receding glacier and our warming climate that I’m still thinking about two weeks later.

See more of Kim’s work on her website

Read about the USGS’s work to document glacial retreat in Alaska


— Sarah Parkinson

 

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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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