Jean McLaughlin, Penland’s longtime director, was honored this spring with a 2016 Distinguished Craft Educators Award from the James Renwick Alliance in Washington, DC. The Alliance is a nonprofit organization that works to promote craft artists and craft education and helps to support the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the nation’s showcase for 20th and 21st century American crafts.
The James Renwick Alliance chooses Distinguished Craft Educators based on the recipient’s reputation for excellence and innovation in education, their influence on future artists in an education program, and their significant contributions to American education in the craft field. In nominating Jean for the award, glass artist, Renwick Alliance board member, and Penland trustee Tim Tate wrote, “When Jean came to Penland eighteen years ago, she breathed new life into the institution. She rebuilt or renovated most of the studios on campus. Thousands of students have passed through their doors, and almost every Distinguished Educator the Renwick Alliance has honored in the past has taught at Penland. Jean’s impact is hard to judge as its scope is so large.”
As part of the award ceremony in April, the Alliance invited Jean to present a short lecture, which she devoted to an overview of Penland’s renowned craft workshops and residencies. “Penland is a leader in education,” Jean told the audience. “I can hardly lay claim to these accomplishments because they are the result of the minds and hands of many staff members and trustees—but my belief in Penland’s educational model is why I moved to Penland to become its director in 1998 and why I believe that I am here today!”
Congratulations, Jean, on this well-deserved honor! All of us in the Penland community benefit from your care, your dedication, and your vision.