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Winter Studio Visit: Dustin Farnsworth

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Dustin Farnsworth’s studio is stage-bright when we walk in. He’s working on three headdresses, and brings our attention to one: three coopered towers to be mounted on the head. To see the expression on the figure’s face is to know something about where this is all going: not only to the world of  “players and painted stage” but somewhere much darker and much more strange.

 

Ah, the “dark” and “strange”–all of it has been commodified in clever ways (Tim Burton, anyone?)–and Dustin’s work nods–and then brilliantly subverts any pop-culture context, favoring more risky considerations of poverty, angst, race. The souls in his headdresses are inexpressibly clear and burdened by what they have to wear (twenty-seven essays could be written about the faces alone), and what they wear is a profound architecture.

 

As we look at the headdress-in-process, Dustin tells us he’s been inspired by Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse–the three headdress sections evoke water towers: signifiers of how we once handled water, and possible indicators of our future demise. As Dustin talks with us about his Michigan roots–“the burn’t out” feeling of Detroit arriving in his hometown of Lansing, Michigan– it’s hard not to see disaster abiding in all his work.

 

But the apocalypse hasn’t happened yet. There’s a lot to do. This, too, is part of Dustin’s sensibility. He shows us a system of walkways that will cross the towers in the headdress, a kind of back-and-forth plank-work. As he talks us through how it will go, the work immediately shifts. There will be an imagined cross-way, the kind that invites a child in. A little Borges in the gloom. A smile in the wince. On a side wall of Farnsworth’s bright studio, behind a door, he’s left a book open. The heading is: “The End Which is the Beginning.”

 

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Photographs by Robin Dreyer; writing by Elaine Bleakney

 

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Rachel Meginnes: Evolving the Cloth

Rachel Meginnes, Jentel (Sky) detail, Gesso, ink, and acrylic on sanded cloth with drawn thread
Rachel Meginnes, Jentel (Sky) detail, gesso, ink, and acrylic on sanded cloth with drawn thread

In this month’s Surface Design Journal, Penland Gallery director Kathryn Gremley traces the origins and evolution of Penland resident artist Rachel Meginnes’s cloth work, illuminating Meginnes’s process through a consideration of individual pieces like Jentel (2012), seen in detail, above.

Download a pdf of the article or purchase the issue here.

 

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Andrew Hayes: Volumes

Former core fellow and incoming resident artist Andrew Hayes has an exhibition opening tonight at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, California. The catalog is available online, and is accompanied by an essay written by Penland’s own far-flung correspondent, Wes Stitt. “Andrew Hayes’s sculptures embody a tactile exploration of scale, a push-and-pull between the immense and intimate,” writes Wes. You can explore Andrew’s work and read the rest of Wes’s introductory essay online:

And if you happen to be in northern California, the exhibition opens tonight at 6:00 pm, and runs until March 2.

Andrew’s altered book structures have also garnered the attention of British bibliophile Robert Bolick. He interviews Andrew and explores his work in-depth over on his blog, Books On Books.

The interview begins with a premise: Andrew picks a book from the middle of his own shelf and then opens it to the middle. Bolick explains what happens next: “[the artist] tells me the author, title and page number, and so the interview begins about the experience and how it might relate to the artist’s work.” Andrew picks from a collection of poems by e.e. cummings, leading Bolick into a lively examination of Andrew’s forms and titles, using cummings as a spark.

Read the interview here.

 

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Introducing Penland’s 2014-2017 Resident Artists

 

Four artists have been selected as Penland resident artists who will live and work in Penland’s close-knit community for the next three years. The incoming artists will arrive in September, 2014 and join returning Penland resident artists Micah Evans, Dustin Farnsworth, and Rachel Meginnes. They include:

 

Annie Evelyn

annieevelynAnnie Evelyn received her BFA and MFA in furniture design at the Rhode Island School of Design. She has taught classes in furniture design, woodworking, and upholstery at The New School (NY), Anderson Ranch, RISD, Penland, and others. A recipient of the Windgate Fellowship in 2010, Annie spent a year as an artist in residence at Indiana University Center for Turning and Furniture Design. Her work has been shown throughout the US and abroad, most recently at the 2013 International Contemporary Furniture Fair. From 2010 to 2011, she worked in New Orleans as set decorator, assistant casting director, and associate producer on the award-winning film Beasts of the Southern Wild, all the while maintaining New Colony Furniture, her design/build business specializing in furniture design and upholstery.

As a Penland resident artist, Annie wants to regain the experimental and conceptual side of her process, something that has been sidelined by the practicalities of making a living as a designer. She hopes three years of studio exploration will help her “establish a way of working and a way of life where [art and design] are working together, informing and strengthening each other.” Annie will relocate to Penland from Brooklyn, New York.

 
 

Andrew Hayes

andrewhayesAndrew Hayes studied art at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and arrived at Penland as a core fellow in 2007. For four years during and following his core fellowship, Andrew worked as a studio assistant to former Penland resident artist Hoss Haley, while beginning to exhibit his altered books throughout the US. In 2013, Andrew established his own studio in Asheville, NC, and began work as a full-time artist. He is now represented by galleries in California, Oregon, North Carolina, Ohio, and Canada. In 2012, Andrew was an Emerging Artist Spotlight presenter at the national Society of North American Goldsmiths conference.

Andrew’s residency at Penland comes at a pivotal moment as he develops new work, new professional relationships, and new markets. About his continued connection to Penland, Andrew says: “Penland has shaped my life as an artist. I am eternally grateful for all the breakthroughs and positive experiences I’ve received directly or indirectly through the school… I want to give back to the community that has supported me in countless ways.” More about Andrew and his work can be found on his website.

 
 

Mercedes Jelinek

mercedesjelinekMercedes Jelinek earned a BFA from SUNY Purchase in 2007 and an MFA from Louisiana State University in 2012. Her work has been shown nationally and has recently been included in exhibits at the Ogden Museum (Louisiana) and Cuchifritos Gallery (NYC). Mercedes  has built a  freelance career working in several genres of commercial photography— architecture, fashion, events, and journalism. She is one of the first photographers to be granted access to the top of the new World Trade Center building, and is currently photographing its final construction. Mercedes has taught in several universities and photo centers, run professional and community photo studios, and assisted several elite photographers.

As a Penland resident artist, Mercedes hopes to continue a neighborhood photo booth portrait project with individuals from the Penland community, and challenge her work through increased scale and research into non-toxic photo processes. She will be moving to Penland from Brooklyn, New York. Her work can be viewed on her website.

 
 

Jaydan Moore

jaydanmooreJaydan Moore earned his BFA in jewelry/metal arts from California College of the Arts in 2008 and an MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2011 and 2012. He has taught at several esteemed metals programs throughout the country and has studied under and/or assisted master metalsmiths including Richard Mawdsley, Fred Fenster, Bob Coogan, and Marilyn da Silva. Jaydan was a university fellow at UW/Madison in 2009; a resident artist at the Houston Contemporary Craft Center in 2012; and is currently the Fountainhead Fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Craft and Material Studies. He is also teaching in the metals department at VCU.

Through the Penland Resident Artist program Jaydan will dedicate three years to his own studio work in complement to his established academic teaching path. View Jaydan’s work and learn more on his website.

 
 

For more information about the Penland resident artist program, please click here.

 
 

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Portland to Penland

Drew Kail at Penland

Drew Kail arrived at Penland for the first time last week, traveling from Portland, Oregon to work in Penland’s print studio with lead printer Diane Fine. He began his residency by etching this woodblock with a landscape and then spending, he noted, a lot of time with a lot of ink.

Drew’s landscape tells the story of his journey, Portland to Penland. (In one corner of the print, a figure shouts “Bye!” from a terminal that seems to float above the earth rolling out below.) Here’s a detail from the print, a bird’s-eye look at one printmaker’s winter arrival in the mountains of western North Carolina:

 

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Emilia Ferraro—My Stay at Penland

Emilia Ferraro
Andrew Glasgow Resident Writer, 2013

The problem with trying to “describe” Penland is that Penland is not only a “place,” a school, a community of likeminded creative people. It is also, or mainly (for me) an experience; a sensuous experience in its widest sense, that touched the very core of my being and as such it is extremely difficult to share with others. How to convey in words the change of energies that I immediately sensed as the taxi that was taking me to Penland from Asheville turned left from the main road into the winding narrow road up to the school? The visual lushness of the vegetation, its myriad shades of colours and smells—just a timid hint of the bombarding to which my senses would soon be subjected to at the school.

How to describe the buzz and creative tension that define the very air in this small hidden corner of the Appalachian mountain range? The mist and humidity of the summer mornings only added to the sensuous quality of the place. Penland is a “place” in the traditional sense of the word as a setting with a specific geographical location, beautiful buildings in the vernacular regional style –the heritage of a long tradition of solid skills and local knowledge. But it is also a way of being that goes beyond time and space, where I was offered the luxury of taking leave from a busy academic life, mostly guided by the capitalist ethics of production that has also infiltrated “the business of knowledge.” Everything was provided for me: a wooden and stone house that defies the boundaries between “inside” and “outside”—a shelter from “nature” and a platform onto it. The food: abundant, varied, and tasty provided a concrete and tangible sign of the defining character that Penland has for me: its nourishing quality. Penland takes care of the body in a variety of ways—of which excellent food and yoga exercise are only an example. Penland nourishes souls by providing that indefinable “something” that feeds our human-ness.

Penland opened the doors of workshops and the experience and expertise attached to them. It welcomed me—an academic, not particularly “arty” (I thought)—into a community of creative and original minds. By treating me as a peer, and making me feel I had something interesting and meaningful to give, Penland gave me the confidence to experiment, dare, and push the boundaries of my own creativity and imagination. It transformed my sense of who I feel I am. It gave me space, freedom, and a safe human and physical environment to “be” in any way I felt I wanted to. It did so without asking anything in return.

When I asked what expectations Penland had about my stay, the answer I got was: “Just that you immerse yourself fully into the Penland experience.” I cannot think of a more generous and wise invitation. I could only do this by participating actively in the everyday “practice” of life at Penland. Practice opened the way to experience, and experience opened the door onto my Self. So, if I had to summarise what Penland has done for me, I would say it has allowed me to get in touch with my inner and true Being. Anyone that has had such an encounter at least once in his or her life knows that there is no going back.