Photo(s) of the Week: Core Show Slideshow

Penland School of Crafts Core Fellows

Penland’s 2014 Core Fellows at the opening of their wonderful exhibition at Northlight on October 10. Click here for a slideshow with pictures from the opening and a few pieces by each person.

The core fellows (left to right) are Joshua Kovarik, Jamie Karolich, Emily Rogstad, Sarah Rachel Brown, Will Lentz, Tyler Stoll, Meghan Martin, Angela Eastman, Audrey Bell.


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Books & Pictures: an interview with Michelle Moode


Michelle Moode, hanging books from the installation “All the Little Stories About Nothing”


Michelle Moode: Works on Paper is on view until November 6, 2014 in the Penland Gallery, and available online in the gallery’s shop. I corresponded recently with Michelle about her current work, process, and intentions.–Elaine Bleakney


You’ve written that your work aims to give a visual representation of thought, to evoke the process of thinking. What is it about thinking that connects to or feeds the flame of your impulse to make art?

When I’m working, and particularly when I’m drawing, my brain goes everywhere: daydreaming, asking myself questions, remembering things, making up stories. The repetitive tasks that I employ, (like stitching or drawing patterns) do not always require actively making choices, so my mind wanders. I’ve never particularly enjoyed talking, and I tend to have some trouble with words, but there is a freedom of thought that comes with making things and being in my own head. I hope a person looking at my work might have an experience comparable to mine: asking questions, looking closely, remembering things from piece-to-piece, but also feeling a bit overwhelmed or perplexed by all the “bits of stuff.”


"Eights & Old Poppies," etching on Japanese papers, wool thread

“Eights & Old Poppies,” etching on Japanese papers, wool thread

I like that wandering enters into it, and how that implies a freedom from typical borders. In addition to making books and pictures, you have ‘bookkeeper’ as a job title. Have you thought about your job and your calling to make art as activities in correspondence with each other?

Well, I think the real trick is to try to see them as connected. There is some amount of record-keeping and note-taking that goes into my art work, and I am generally attracted to stacks of paper. I like to think abstractly about all the information and data I work with in my day-job.


There’s a happy-go-lucky presence I experience in your abstractions, a friendliness I find in the stacks and layers, marks and moments of text. Would you say that this is something you bring to your work?

No, I don’t think I would say that. I’m fine with the work seeming friendly, but it is not intentionally so. The phrase “happy-go-lucky” makes me think of something frivolous and maybe a bit haphazardly put together. I don’t think that’s true of my work. There’s a lot of care and intricate work in there. I hope it’s a bit puzzling to someone looking at it, but maybe it’s a friendly, clever sort of puzzle. Like a scavenger hunt.


Speaking of puzzles, I’m curious about a piece you have in this show called “Math,” and how a title like this one arrives for you: as you were making the piece? How is making a title for a work associated with the work?

A lot of my titles arrive after the piece is made, by looking at what is contained in the piece. In the case of “Math” I was thinking about math long before I made the piece. That text is etched into a zinc etching plate I made at least three years ago, and appears (very tiny) on the piece. Again, this is why I love etching, and reusing old plates in never-ending variations: there’s so much history in the work.


You attended the Paper & Book Intensive at Ox-Bow this summer. How did that experience affect you and your work?

This year at the Paper & Book Intensive I had my very first experience with papermaking, (with Ann Marie Kennedy and Kerri Cushman) which was a huge deal for me. Paper has always been an important component of the different sorts of work I do, and my time at PBI has really pointed me toward continuing my book arts education. I met so many amazing people at PBI; this was really my first experience being surrounded by book enthusiasts from a variety of professions and backgrounds. We spent our time learning, working, having nerdy conversations, teaching each other things outside of our classes, as well as canoeing, playing poker, playing word games, and adventuring in the woods. I am extremely grateful I had the opportunity to attend this year.


Detail of "To the Memory of (Rocks & Berries)", etching, monotype on Japanese papers, wool thread

Detail of “To the Memory of (Rocks & Berries),” etching, monotype on Japanese papers, wool thread


Do you have a favorite word at the moment, and if so, why is it your favorite?

I think “ampersand” is a favorite word right now. One piece in this show is titled “Purposeful Ampersand.” The word has an interesting etymology, and it is a name of a thing (I like knowing the names of things) and that thing is a symbol. &. What’s not to like?!


View more of Michelle Moode: Works on Paper here


obsevatorymichelleMichelle C. Moode is a mixed media artist. She grew up in Southern California, and spent her high school and college years in Murray, Kentucky. She received her BFA from Murray State University in 2003, and an MFA in Printmaking from West Virginia University in 2007. Through the years she has also learned things at the Penland School of Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Frogmans Print and Paper Workshops. She moved to North Carolina from Los Angeles in 2011, seeking a drastic change of scenery. In addition to making books, she is currently the bookkeeper at the gallery at the Penland School of Crafts.


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Penland to Oaxaca: February 2015


Scene from Penland in Oaxaca 2014: an experience with local, natural dyes.

Penland will host an art-centered excursion to Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico, February 19-25, 2015–a chance to explore contemporary and folk art in Oaxaca and Chiapas, where indigenous creativity has flourished for centuries.

During seven nights and eight days of cultural immersion and discovery, travelers will meet artists in their studios and discover a vibrant art scene; visit a Zapotec village where pre-Lenten Carnivale is celebrated with extravagant costumes; explore Zapotec archaeological sites; sample cuisine and take a cooking class with one of Oaxaca’s well-known culinary instructors. The trip is limited to twelve travelers and space is first-come, first-serve.

Penland School of Crafts in Oaxaca
Organized by Oaxaca Cultural Navigator
February 19-25, 2015
Registration deadline: November 15, 2014

For complete information about the trip, including an itinerary and how to register, click here

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Video: Jon Brooks

Our last video from our summer series of video portraits made by Wes Stitt features Penland instructor Jon Brooks, who taught a workshop called Convergence: Forest Meets Muse in our wood studio this past June.

To revisit the entire series of Wes’s videos, please visit Penland Stories.


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Photo of the Week: Pin Registration!


Printmaking instructor Amanda Lee demonstrating the wonders of the pin registration system. Yeah, that sounds kind of unexciting — unless you are planning to make multicolor prints and you’d like things to line up really well, in which case you’d be as enthralled as Amanda’s students.


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Norm Schulman

Norm Schulman

Norm Schulman photographed by Gloria Schulman


The craft world, Penland School, and the Penland community lost a great artist, teacher, and friend with the passing of Norm Schulman on October 4, just a few weeks short of his ninetieth birthday. Norm began teaching at Penland in 1975, and he and his wife, Gloria, have lived near the school since 1984. He was widely recognized for his diverse body of work in ceramics, his knowledge of materials and processes, and his generous teaching.

Norm received a Master’s degree from Alfred University in 1958. He began teaching at the Toledo Museum of Art and was subsequently head of glass and ceramics at Rhode Island School of Design and head of ceramics at Ohio State University. In addition to teaching workshops at Haystack and Penland, he was a visiting artist, lecturer, or guest teacher in many university programs. Norm was a Penland trustee, an advisor to the clay program, a mentor to resident artists and core students, and a steady and thoughtful presence in the community.

His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and is in the collections of the Renwick Gallery (DC), the Museum of Arts and Design (NYC), the Wolfsonian (FL), the Mint Museum (NC), and the Asheville Art Museum, just to name a few. Norm was a fellow of the American Craft Council, and in 2006 he was honored with a retrospective traveling exhibition that originated at the Asheville Art Museum. At the 2007 benefit auction, he was the first person to be named a Penland School of Crafts Outstanding Artist Educator, an honor that was shared with Gloria. In 2009, he received the North Carolina Living Treasure award.

Norm said that he was always more interested in learning, experimenting, and exploring than in establishing a signature style. His 2006 retrospective exhibition included functional work, sculpture, figurative pieces, elaborately decorated vessel forms (which he sometimes called “three-dimensional paintings”), different types of clay, many kinds of glazes, and different firing methods. Following a profusion of brightly colored work, the show culminated with a sublime group of simple—perfect—vessels that had been fired in a small wood kiln he built around the time of his eightieth birthday.


Norm Schulmand and Gloria Schulman

Norm and Gloria at home in 2007. (Photo: Robin Dreyer)


Norm Schulman was a kind, straightforward man who shared his knowledge freely and looked everyone straight in the eye. His restless creative energy pushed his artistic career well into his eighth decade. He shared a long and loving marriage with the remarkable Gloria Schulman, and together they have been true builders of community. Norm will be missed for so many reasons.  -Robin Dreyer


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Don’t Fear the Warp



Beth Ross Johnson returns to Penland to teach a one-week workshop this November called Weaving: The First Layer. The workshop is designed for beginners as well as experienced weavers “who dread the warping process.” Students will learn to warp “with multiple threads, to beam on without tangles, and other tricks of the trade” to “establish a foundation for fabrics that will go where we want them to go.”

Interested? You may also want to check out this illuminating blog post by Hollie Pocsai, who took the photographs above. Hollie was a student in Tali Weinberg’s summer weaving class at Penland. She writes: “I was expecting to be amongst the youngest in the class, but to my surprise I was on the older end of the scale in our class made up of twelve women. And some really extraordinary woman at that.” Hollie writes about the work, magic, and one strange nightmare that happened during her stay–a well-rounded post-game view of a Penland weaving class.

To learn more about Beth Ross Johnson’s workshop (November 2-8, 2014), click here. If you live nearby, don’t forget to check our standby policy if you’re thinking of enrolling.


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