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Drum Leaf Books with Rory Sparks, November 1-7, 2015

Rory working with a student

Rory working with a student during a workshop in the old Penland books studio in 2011.

 

Rory Sparks first learned bookbinding in college, right at the end of her senior year. “[I] realized that I had spent four years studying something that wasn’t my passion; that actually, bookbinding was my passion,” she recalls. “I think it comes from really enjoying craft and precision…It just really spoke to me.” From there, Rory studied in England and sought out traditional binders that she could learn from. Instead of getting a Masters degree, she decided to piece together her own education by traveling and studying with a variety of artists and binders and printers. “I’ve learned from so many different people. I kind of take what’s important to me from each one and build my own philosophy around what I do and how I do it.”

letterpress printed book by Rory Sparks

Rory Sparks, Drum Leaf Binding, letterpress printed paper, 7 x 5-1/2”

Twenty-something years later, Rory’s early passion for books has transformed into a deep well of knowledge, creativity, and enthusiasm for her field. She has spent time at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and as a resident artist at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. She binds high-end books for collections and museums. She teaches courses and workshops to share her knowledge with students. And she founded Em-Space, a collective book and letterpress studio in Portland, Oregon that builds creative community and provides artists with access to tools like presses, foil stampers, and more.

Given her extensive background and excitement for teaching, we love having Rory here in the Penland studios. In 2013, she joined us as the master printer/bookbinder at the helm of our winter residency in print and letterpress. She came back in the spring of 2014 to lead a concentration that blurred the lines between letterpress and animation. And this November she’ll return to teach bookbinding, her original love. The class will focus on the versatile but exacting drum leaf binding structure, which makes a perfect canvas for the sort of imagery-heavy books that Rory gravitates towards in her own pieces. If you, too, want a new structure to show off your two-dimensional work, or you enjoy craft and precision, or you’d like to absorb knowledge from an expert binderthis week with Rory could be just the ticket. Register here for her drum leaf books class.

 

Drum Leaf Books

Rory Sparks
November 1-7, 2015

Explore the versatility of the drum leaf binding, an ideal format for 2D artists because it provides a page with unbroken imagery and no gutters. Each spread can be a print, painting, or photograph. This structure provides a simple, intuitive way of laying out a book, and it’s perfect for small editions. We’ll include several cover variations and many versions of stiff-leaf bindings and board books. Windows and wells will provide a wealth of opportunities for incorporating artwork and flat objects into these books. Come prepared to invent and push the boundaries of your book forms. All levels. Code F03B

Rory Sparks is a studio artist, edition binder, and printmaker. Her teaching includes the Oregon College of Art and Craft, the Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland), and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. She founded Em Space Book Arts Center (OR) and has been in exhibitions at the Tacoma Art Museum (WA) and the Portland Art Museum (OR).

Register here for Drum Leaf Books

 

 

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“A Zeal for the Creative Process”

portrait of Robert Bush

 

Robert Bush came to Penland this summer as a session four student in Jana Harper’s class “The What & the Why: Books as Idea Generators.” The class was part of a one-month sabbatical from his job as president of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a first-time Penland student, Robert arrived on campus with “a zeal for the creative process” but without much experience in the visual arts.

Writing about his experience later for the ASC blog, Robert reflected:

“I could recount the 12 hour days, ‘one word’ prompts each afternoon that required a book be made for a 10 a.m. group show and critique the next morning, the mistakes I made….let’s just say I now understand ‘make it work’ and I held my own. I totally stepped away from my job and the world (no TV, barely internet) for two weeks, immersed myself in an unfamiliar setting doing unfamiliar things. It was nothing I expected and everything I had hoped for.”

He finished his essay with a list of the giftsboth personal and professionalthat his time at Penland had given him. They’re a valuable reminder of the enriching role art can play in our lives and the importance of “being present and engaged in community.”

See the list and read Robert’s full post here on the ASC blog.

 

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Handbuilding Laboratory with Eric Knoche, November 1-7, 2015

Wood-fired clay sculptures by Eric Knoche

When viewing sculptor Eric Knoche’s work, it’s clear he has a facility with form. And when he describes his forms, it’s clear that he finds a lot of inspiration in the clay he works with. As he recently explained in an interview, “Clay is just such an amazing material, and you can work it so many ways; additive and subtractive processes work equally well, it is both demanding and forgiving, it can be softer than water and as hard as stone, as delicate as an eggshell and more durable than anything else humans have ever made. It changes from second to second as you work with it, which creates a feedback loop or a dialog. For me, the material itself is endlessly fascinating.”

Eric’s clay forms are deceptively simple. Squiggled lines and arcs gain volume and edges to become three-dimensional surfaces that draw the viewer in from multiple angles. His pieces suggest common objects and quick doodles at the same time as they evoke ancient architecture and the earth itself. Some are small enough to hold in a hand, while others stand as tall as person. “I think of my work as one installation stretching through time as space, each piece adding meaning to the others,” Eric writes in his artist statement. “I have been strongly influenced by languages I don’t understand and tools I don’t know how to use, male and female figures, machine parts, shelters, math equations, micro-facial movements, the Argentine tango, alphabets, the spine and other bones, the distortional nature of memory, the limits of ocular perception, plants, running water, and songbirds.”

 

Eric Knoche working on a clay sculpture

Eric at work on a piece in his Asheville studio. Photo by Frank J. Bott.

 

We are looking forward to bringing Eric to Penland this fall to teach a 1-week workshop November 1-7, 2015. The class will focus on using handbuilding techniques to realize sculptural goals, and we expect it to be jam-packed with insights. After all, Eric is the guy who likes to create clay pieces that are as large as he is to challenge himself technically. “I have no proprietary information,” he states. “I’ll tell anybody anything they want to know about anything I do.” In other words, this week will be pure gold for anyone interested in creating forms with clay. To reserve your spot, register here.

 

Handbuilding Laboratory

Eric Knoche
November 1-7, 2015
In this class we’ll blur the lines between pinching, coiling, slab work, and modeling in order to open up more possibilities in the world of handbuilt ceramics. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the clay itself as we establish a paradigm of creative problem solving and develop a personal set of integrated methods that most expeditiously accomplish each student’s artistic goals. We’ll look at various ways to successfully construct large work, intricate work, and multiple-piece sculptures using simple tools and processes such as tarpaper templates and clay armatures. All levels. Code F03CB

Studio artist; presenter at first European Woodfire Conference (Germany), guest lecturer at Australian National University; Ceramics Monthly emerging artist; exhibitions: Blue Spiral 1 (NC), Baltimore Clay Works, AKAR Design Gallery (IA), Mint Museum (NC), Hjorths Fabrik (Denmark), Gallerei Klosterformat (Germany); collections: Mint Museum (NC), Mission Hospital (NC).

ericknoche.com

Sign up for Handbuilding Laboratory.

 

To see more of Eric’s work and his process, watch this video about how he approaches his art.

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One Weekend, Two Shows

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.

 

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50 Years of Glass at Penland

Though small in physical scale, a single innovation changed the course of glass making in America: in 1962 Harvey Littleton, with the help of Norm Schulman and Dominick Labino, built and demonstrated a studio-scale glass furnace at a workshop for university ceramics professors held at the Toledo Museum of Art. Prior to their demonstration, glasswork had been closely linked with production factories, and a studio glass practice was pretty much unheard of.

Two years later, a fortuitous meeting between Littleton and Penland director Bill Brown at the World Craft Conference, held at Columbia University in New York City, triggered another turning point. Once again, Littleton built and demonstrated a small glass furnace, and Bill Brown left that conference determined to build a glass studio at Penland School of Crafts. In 1965, Bill Boysen, a student of Littleton’s, arrived at Penland to build that studio, and hot glass at Penland became a reality. Penland’s first formal offering in glass was the following summer when Boysen taught two classes. Glass has been a vital component of Penland’s program ever since.

 

man blowing glass

Bill Boysen in the Penland glass studio in 1965. Photographer unknown, Penland Archives.

 

Cynthia Bringle, longtime Penland clay instructor and local resident, was here when Boysen arrived to build the studio. When asked what that felt like, she says, “Like many of the early studios, everyone was just doing what it took to make it work. Bill Boysen came down and did it. I just came down and helped!” She remembers early work made from melted glass marbles (one of the forms you could buy raw glass in back then). Clay and glass remained intertwined in the early years: Norm Schulman, local resident and Penland clay instructor, worked in both media and was an advisor for Littleton’s furnace design. When Richard Ritter was a resident artist in the 1970s, Bringle made ceramic collars for him to use for making glass murrinis, and she filled in as an impromptu gaffer.

 

woman in a glass shop

Cynthia Bringle working in the Penland glass studio in 1965. Photographer unknown, image courtesy of Kate Vogel.

 

Littleton’s technology and Brown’s vision for a glass program at Penland acted as a springboard for the studio glass movement. The technology was accessible, and Penland’s glass program became an influential hub. Penland’s resident artists program—a unique program offering long-term housing, studio space, and creative community to a group of craftspeople—was instituted by Brown in 1963. The first resident in glass, Mark Peiser, arrived in 1965. That program and Penland’s immersive learning environment, along with the progressively more sophisticated glass studios, made Penland a magnet that attracted a community of glass artists to the area surrounding the school. In the late 1970s Littleton retired from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and built a home and studio in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, close to Penland. He was part of Penland summers as a visiting scholar for eight years between 1976 and 1984.

Fifty years after the first glass studio at Penland was built, there are, according to glass artist Kate Vogel, approximately sixty active glass artists living and working in the surrounding community—about forty of whom work full time in glass. The Glass Art Society was founded at a gathering at Penland in 1971 and has held their annual conference here a number of times. The second Penland glass studio, the Bonnie Willis Ford Glass Studio, opened for classes in 1977. The current studio, the Bill Brown Glass Studio, was dedicated in 1995 during a Glass Arts Society conference. Many glass artists, from all over the U.S. and the world, have come to Penland to teach and to learn: in fifty years over 700 classes in glass have been offered, taught by almost 300 different instructors, and 27 resident artists in glass have worked in the glass studio at the Barns. In that time, Penland programs have stretched the boundaries of how glass can be worked at the studio scale, all the while fostering a global community of glass artists.

Carey Hedlund, Penland Archivist

 

Micah Evans working on a flameworked glass piece

Former resident artist Micah Evans working on a piece in the Penland glass studio in 2011. Photo by Robin Dreyer.

 

Resources:

Byrd, Joan Falconer. Harvey K. Littleton: A Life in Glass. New York: Skira Rizzoli Publications Inc., 2011. Print.

Documentary by WGTE television, Toledo, OH: features film footage of the Toledo workshops and interviews with Littleton, Labino and Schulman: http://www.wgte.org/wgte/watch/item.asp?item_id=11648
http://www.toledoworkshop.org/toledo-1962-the-liberation-of-glass.html

Glass Arts Society website: http://www.glassart.org/about.html

Penland School of Crafts, Jane Kessler Memorial Archives

Conversations with Kate Vogel and Cynthia Bringle, August 2015

 

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Penland’s Core Fellowship (Applications due Oct 15)

Core fellows got their name because they are at the very core of the Penland community. They are fully engaged with life at the schoolthey take classes, work in their own studios, live together on campus, and keep the school running alongside Penland’s staff. It’s a pretty special and unique opportunity for emerging artists, and most core fellows find that their two years here are transformative in ways they didn’t even anticipate.

Here’s how some past core fellows have described the experience in their own words:

Amanda Thatch

 

“I have learned so much about so many different materials and so many different approaches to art and living in community. Because I make things, I get to have experiences that I would never be able to have otherwise. As a core student, I’ve been able to take fourteen Penland classes in two years. That’s a pretty incredible gift.”  Amanda Thatch

 

 

Daniel Beck

 

“We work so closely together and influence each other so much that the program is like an idea factory. It’s definitely a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We work hard, but we get a lot for it. I find that the work makes me feel more integrated into the whole school.”  Daniel Beck

 

 

 

Courtney Dodd

 

“I learned so much from being exposed to different teachers and different ways of doing things. I also learned about many things other than craft or art: I learned about landscaping and cooking, for instance, and, more than anything else, about communicating with other people. I think I’ve grown more in the past two years than in any other time of my life.”  Courtney Dodd

 

 

Jack Mauch

 

“My time as a core student has been seminal in every regard. I have grown immensely in my understanding of material and process, and in the sophistication of my artistic vision. I have lived, worked, and learned with people who have had a profound impact on me, and whose influence I will carry forever. I have had the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and the most cups of coffee.”  Jack Mauch

 

 

Rachel Mauser

 

“Being a core fellow at Penland is an incredible blend of being an artist, a staff member, a student, and living in a very close community. Everything is intense: so much more than I think it normally would be. Living with the other core fellows and learning from themas artists, as colleagues, as peoplehas been amazing.”  Rachel Mauser

 

 

 

If the Core Fellowship Program piques your interest, then mark down October 15, 2015 on your calendar. That’s when applications for next year’s core fellowships are due. For more information, visit the Core Fellowship page.

 

 

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Stuart Kestenbaum: Tinker Poet

Stuart Kestenbaum spent two weeks at Penland in July as this year’s Andrew Glasgow Writing Resident. Stuart is the author of four books of poetry and a book of essays on craft and creativity. His work has been published in a number of magazines including Tikkun and The Sun and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. He sent us this account from his time at Penland. Scroll to the bottom to see a video of Stuart reading a couple of poems.

 

Stuart Kestenbaum at Penland

Stuart Kestenbaum reading a poem in the metals studio.

 

During my last week of the job I had held for 27 years, I received a call from Penland’s program director Leslie Noell asking me to be the Andrew Glasgow Visiting Writer at Penland for a two-week summer session. Sometimes before picking up a ringing phone I reflect for a moment that it could be either a wonderful opportunity or really bad news. Most times the call is far more mundane than that– a reminder of a dental appointment or a robo-call from a nonexistent bank. The call from Penland, though, was of the rare wonderful opportunity variety, particularly since the job I was leaving was as director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, a program in Maine so similar in concept to Penland that we think of ourselves as sister schools. Penland inspired the founding of Haystack in 1950, and Bill Brown, who was assistant director at Haystack, became director of Penland in 1962. We’ve been sharing faculty and educational strategies for a long time.

 

At Penland I would be able to experience the powerful creative energy of a community of makers—much like what I’d lived with at Haystack—but without any of the responsibility. Someone else would be thinking about plumbing, food, kilns, and fundraising. And, while I always loved the group energy of each session at Haystack, there was rarely time for my own work; these two weeks at Penland would give me time to focus on my writing.

 

A number of the workshop leaders—Bob Ebendorf, Jason Pollen, and Patricia Wheeler—had all taught at Haystack, so I had connections with the studios from the very start of the session. At Haystack I would introduce evening program by reading other people’s poems, so Bob invited me into his workshop to read poems to his class in the mornings. He said that I was like a tinker, traveling to the studio with poetry. I responded by saying that I would be more like a tinker if people gave me words that I could turn into a poem—repairing them or giving them new life in a sense. I would be a tinker of words. This began a series of daily poems with words from Bob’s class and later words from Kip O’Krongly’s clay class too.

 

It was liberating for me to use words that weren’t of my own choosing and exciting for the people in the studios to see their own words transformed. Each morning I’d return with a poem from the day before—some a little crazier than others—but the writing had allowed me make discoveries. And isn’t that what we want from our making? To employ what skills we have to travel along an unknown path into a new place. Using other people’s words provided me some distance from my writing self and allowed me to go inside more deeply, or at least differently. When the clay group left me a list of sixteen words (marsupial, mountain, basket, cleft, immense, bacon, pattern, noodle, anxiety, rigor mortis, stoicism, applesauce, stressed, passion, silhouette, and bedfellows) here’s what I wrote.

 

Hermit’s Dream
Living on the mountaintop, I missed
coffee and bacon at first—who doesn’t?
and later began to dream of simple things like
applesauce and noodles, since I was living
on air. Passion takes many forms,
my master had always stressed.
Look for patterns he said.
Being and non-being are strange
bedfellows. One day anxiety left me, drifting
off and settling in a rock cleft far below.
When the light was right, I could watch
its silhouette moving wildly.
I learned the names of my fears
and put them in a basket. Each day I would
climb the ledges, remembering who I
had been, feeling like a marsupial carrying
all those personalities in my pouch.
Then there was nothing. But it’s not what we
fear. No rigor mortis. I was alive and
dancing in this immense emptiness that
is everything. Stoics were laughing. Birds
were singing. First morning.

 

It was a dynamic partnership with the studios that I would look forward to each day. I’d receive my list of words in the late afternoon and work on the poems at night, ready for delivery to the workshops in the morning. I had my materials and I had a deadline—two key components of any creative process—and people eager to listen to poetry. What more could a writer want?

–Stuart Kestenbaum, September 2015

 

 

Here’s an excerpt from Stuart’s reading at Penland.

 

 

 

 

Stuart’s only complaint about his time at Penland was that, for some reason, nobody was playing frisbee or volleyball that session. He left us this poetic visual comment.

 

 

 

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