The job of a Penland studio coordinator is a many-faceted one. Our eight coordinators order materials and keep studios clean and equipment running smoothly. They manage budgets and large inventories of supplies. They work with our programming office to plan upcoming workshops, and instructors to provide for specific classes, and individual students to solve problems on the fly. It’s a demanding and unpredictable job, which makes it all the more impressive that these eight individuals are also working artists in their own right. We are thrilled and proud that they have come together to put on a group show of their work at the Asheville Area Arts Council. Appropriately, the exhibition is called Off the Clock.
As curator and Penland friend Elaine Bleakney writes:
OFF THE CLOCK features eight artists, all full-time studio coordinators at Penland School of Crafts in Penland, NC. The work on view here was made in the off-hours by friends and colleagues who see each other daily and exchange interests, affection, knowledge, and regard for each other.
This is not a group show in the traditional sense. These artists are not strangers, and the works are not estranged from each other, despite their singular presences. Rather, looking from artist to artist, the viewer might pick up a magical sense that the works were made on the same set of evenings, in studios closeby. One of these artists might have looked up from her work and gazed out the cool, green window. She might have seen one of the other artists riding by on a bike, and waved.
Off the Clock will be on view at the Refinery Creator Space at 207 Coxe Ave in Asheville through September 16, 2016. It features the work of Daniel T. Beck (iron/sculpture), Betsy DeWitt (photography), Susan Feagin (ceramics), Jay Fox (print), Nick Fruin (glass), Ian Henderson (metals), Ellie Richards (wood/sculpture), and Amanda Thatch (drawing/textiles).
There will be a reception for the show on Friday, September 2 from 5 PM to 8 PM, and the artists will present a public talk on Saturday, September 3 from 4 PM to 6 PM. More information about both events is available on the exhibition’s Facebook event page.
Summers at Penland can be seasons of frenetic energy, while winters here have a more independent, reflective mood. Between them, springs and falls are seasons of sustained inquiry, exploration, and growth. The 8-week concentrations that take place during these times combine the length of a college term with the intensity of fully-immersive workshop education. For artists looking to make great strides in their work or dive deeply into new techniques, Penland concentrations are an unmatched opportunity. The application deadline for fall scholarships is August 1, 2016.
Birdie Boone and Matt Repsher will lead students in their “pot-centric” workshop to develop wheelthrown and handbuilt pieces with stronger connections between form and surface.
In “The Cane Ladder,” Claire Kelly and her students will dive deep into glassblowing techniques, covering cane and murrine as well as sculpting, hot and cold assemblies, and cold work.
Blacksmith Jay Burnham-Kidwell will take students through eight weeks of fire and iron: forging, bending, splitting, punching, welding, finishing, and more.
In Kristina Glick’s workshop “Counterbalance: Enameling, Electroforming & Found Objects,” students will use liquid enamels on metal to produce finished pieces of jewelry, wall panels, and other exquisite objects.
Georgia Deal will lead her students in an exciting mix of monoprinting and hand papermaking to develop layered prints and rich visual vocabularies.
Recent resident artist Rachel Meginnes will teach “The Thread Between,” a workshop focused on textiles and artistic development that will include weaving and surface exercises as well as readings, writing, and group discussions.
In “Books, Relics, Curiosities,” Daniel Essig will lead students in an exploration of wood and bookbinding techniques to create book-based sculptures.
Each of our fall concentrations are open to students of all levels, and scholarships are available for every concentration. The deadline to apply for a fall concentration scholarship is August 1, 2016. Read more about Penland’s scholarship program, and then apply online through Penland’s slideroom site.
Join us for eight weeks of creative energy and artistic growth this fall!
In less than three weeks, summer workshops will be underway at Penland! If you’re not registered for a workshop already, there are still lots of classes with open spaces, and even a few that have work-study scholarship positions available. Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing…
In session 1, students in Lola Brooks’s workshop Storytelling & Belt Bucklery will tie together a wide range of metalworking techniques through narrative. The class will use stone setting, soldering, forming, fabricating, marriage of metals, and more to create pieces that are at once functional, beautiful, and full of meaning. It’s the perfect opportunity for beginning metalsmiths to get a solid footing in technique and for more advanced students to develop their ideas and artistic voice. Register now.
During session 2, Fiction in Photography with Emma Powell will combine traditional 19th century printing processes with current digital technologies. Through a mix of theatrical photography, digital manipulation, and hand-printing, students will create images not of what is, but of what could be. If you’d like to to create images that are expressive, surreal, or even gravity-defying, this workshop is the one for you. Register now.
Session 3 offers intermediate glass students an opportunity to deepen the content of their sculptural works in Logic & Lyricism with Rebecca Arday and David Schnuckel. By emphasizing conceptual intent, the workshop will encourage students to develop techniques in the hot and cold shops that amplify their ideas and artistic goals. For anyone who is ready to take their glass beyond simple forms, Logic & Lyricism provides a chance to make work with poetic appeal as well as technical skill. Register now.
These three workshops are just a small sampling of what Penland students will be learning this summer in the studios. To see all the other workshops across our fifteen studios and seven sessions that still have spaces, take a look at the open workshop list. Once you’ve found your perfect fit, you can register right here.
The following post is a photo slideshow. If you’re looking at it in email, we recommend viewing it on the blog.
Between seven concentrations and nine 1-week workshops, we’ve had a busy spring at Penland. It’s been exciting to see the progress that long classes make, whether it’s transforming straight beams into a fully-realized timber frame structure or collecting plant material to make into paper to make into books. Scroll through the photos above to get a glimpse of the colorful, experimental, detailed, thoughtful, beautiful things underway in the studios. And, if you’re in the area, please join us on May 5th at 8pm to celebrate the end of the session at the scholarship auction in Northlight!
The following blog post is a photo slideshow. We recommend viewing it in an Internet browser.
This year’s Penland Community Open House was another big success! Over 700 people from the Penland community came up to try their hand at a new craft. Artists young and old alike were busy forging in the iron studio, flameworking beads in the glass shop, making colorful portraits in the photo studio, creating wooden whistles, and lots more. We’re grateful to all volunteers for helping us to share this fun day with our community, and to all the visitors who join us with such enthusiasm.
Jack Mackie does not identify as a glass artist, nor has he studied the art of blowing glass. But this January, he came to Penland for a week of winter residency in the hot glass studio with some big ideas. “I’m a public artist,” he explains. “The project is the medium, and I make the framework.”
The project that brought him to Penland is the Burnsville Gateway, a public art installation planned for the nearby town of Burnsville, NC as part of the North Carolina Arts Council’s SmART Initiative. The initiative aims to use art to build stronger communities and economies, and those goals have been at the forefront of Jack’s mind throughout the design phase. “There’s a deep tradition of craft here, of quilts, of weaving, of pottery, of baskets, and of glass,” he explains. “One of the things that I wanted to help illuminate through this project is the community of glass that is here, to give prominence to something so special about the area that is not always visible.”
To that end, Jack brought a team of skilled local glass artists with him to Penland: Courtney Dodd, Rob Levin, Kenny Pieper, Dave Wilson, and Hayden Wilson. Together, they worked to create the first glass prototypes for the Burnsville installation, filling the studio with between 800 and 1000 blown-glass pieces in the course of a week. “This artwork is being made by the people who live here,” Jack states. “I simply am providing—conceptually and literally—the frame that their glass artwork is going into.”
Jack’s vision for Burnsville is expansive and draws on the town’s artistic heritage, mountains, history, and designation as one of only a handful of “Dark Sky” communities in the country. At the center of his plans is the telescope, which he connects both to the town’s past (Burnsville’s founder, Otway Burns, was a naval hero who used a telescope in navigation) and its future (a large public telescope and observatory is being planned for the nearby Star Park). The central feature of Jack’s installation will be six giant “telescopes”—towering columns of illuminated metal and glass that stand at the entrances to the town, three on each side, viewable from the highway as visitors crest the hill.
It was these telescopes that the team focused on during their week at Penland. Each one measures between twenty-four and thirty feet tall and features “baskets” of blown glass orbs held in by a sturdy wire mesh. At first, Jack envisioned each telescope as a different color, but a sunset one evening changed his mind. “I was driving, and I looked in my rearview mirror,” he tells me. “I saw the colors of the sunset and I thought, ‘That’s it!’” Now, the telescopes on the east entrance to town feature gradations of the yellows and pinks of sunrise, while the western telescopes boast the intense oranges and purples of early evening. From a distance, the reflective rainbow effect of all that glass is quite stunning. “It’s so much more than my color sketches,” Jack comments. “It’s light moving through color held in the medium of glass.”
Up close, the telescopes maintain their power to draw the viewer in. Rather than simply creating smooth, hollow globes, Jack’s team of glass artists created richly-textured shapes—some are ridged and round, while others are curved and spiraling or bulbous or decorated with diamond patterns or delicate bubbles beneath the surface. “I like that each one is different, that they’re tactile and engaging, that people can reach in and experience the glass,” Jack says. “In a society where more and more things are built uniformly and built by the billions, to have these handmade pieces as part of our civic public infrastructure was very attractive to me.”
Over the next couple months, Jack and his team will be busy fabricating hundreds more glass orbs for the project, which will likely involve at least one more trip to Penland and possibly the participation of a few other local glass artists. “We couldn’t make this happen without the vision and ability of these artists and a place like Penland for people to come together to work,” Jack notes. “I want to give these artists ownership of the project and at the same time funnel money into the local community through their work.”
The Burnsville Gateway—complete with the six telescope columns, as well as artistic benches, walkways, and other streetscape elements—is set to be installed sometime in the second half of 2017. When it is finished, it will be a testament to the creativity, skill, and vitality of the Burnsville community and the artists who built it piece by piece. “That’s one of the things that public art can do,” Jack concludes. “It can make a place unique, draw out its special qualities, and illuminate them. In our case, it will literally illuminate the quality of the work and the lives that are here.”
For more information on the project, the process, and the artists behind it, we highly recommend watching these two videos by local videographer Chanse Simpson.
In the 200 years since the first electric light was invented, the light bulb has become a common household object. It has also come to symbolize new ideas and innovation, a spark of creativity, a sudden leap of understanding. Taken separately, a light bulb’s component parts are a simple glass globe, a wire filament, and an electrical current, but together, they open up whole new possibilities. Glass lends light form and volume, while light brings glass assertively to life.
This spring, the Penland glass studio will be all about exploring the possibilities and ideas that open when glass and light combine. It’s an area that collaborating artists Jen Elek and Jeremy Bart are already quite familiar with. In their recent exhibition Look! See? at The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, the two created a dynamic and interactive landscape of forms, colors, reflections, and luminescence. Just as with a single light bulb, their pairing of glass and light combines to make more than the sum of its parts.
For students interested in ways to take glass sculpture a step further, Jen and Jeremy’s spring concentration Hot Glass & Electric Light will be the ideal opportunity to do just that. During the eight-week workshop, which runs March 13-May 6, Jen will lead students through a strong base of hot glass techniques—and Jeremy will added instruction in the fundamentals of incorporating various forms of light into glass, from neon to LEDs.
Register for Hot Glass & Electric Light to give your work a literal jolt of electricity, and discover the potential for striking, communicative, and even humorous sculpture that the combination offers. Unlike the white creature below, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Hot Glass & Electric Light
Jeremy Bert & Jen Elek — Most of us live within the glow of electric light—often protected or filtered by glass. This class will empower the nontechnically inclined artist to harness these omnipresent media by exploring the mechanics of glass and light while considering the potential for electric light in sculpture. Jen will teach the fundamentals of glass furnace work for the full eight weeks. Jeremy will join us for four weeks to cover the basic principles, vocabulary, and techniques of neon and other forms of electric light, including LED and incandescent. Artists ready to explore the combination of glass forming and electric light will find this workshop a great fit. All levels. Code S00GA
Jen has been a member of glass artist Lino Tagliapietra’s team since 2002; Jeremy is a certified welder, crane operator, and sign electrician. The two have previously taught at Pilchuck (WA) and have exhibited their work at Museum of Glass (WA) and Pittsburgh Glass Center.