Posted on

Photo(s) of the Week: The Thread Between

jessica-stitching

On a crisp and sunny afternoon, there may be nowhere on campus that gets better light than the weaving studio in Lily Loom. This fall, it is home to Rachel Meginnes’s concentration The Thread Between. Students in the workshop are learning to deepen their studio practices and develop a serious body of work through exercises with textiles, readings, writing assignments, discussions, presentations, and individual consultations. Here, studio assistant Jessica Green works on a cross stitch sample (above), and instructor Rachel Meginnes talks with studio assistant Marie Fornaro about her sewn paper samples (below).

 

rachel-and-marie

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted on

Farewell to Micah, Dustin, and Rachel

Today we bid a fond, sad farewell to three of our resident artists. Micah Evans, Dustin Farnsworth, and Rachel Meginnes have been wonderful community members since arriving at Penland in 2012 and have continually inspired us with their work.

Micah Evans flameworking glass

Micah, our resident in glass, will be heading to Austin, TX to set up a studio there and continue his work. During his residency, he made everything from glass topographic maps to yo-yos to involved decantersall of them exquisite.

 

Dustin Farnsworth with some of his sculpture

Dustin has spent his three-year residency focused on figurative sculpture, producing monumental narrative pieces that are both intricate and immersive. This fall, he will spend the semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Windgate Artist in Residence.

 

Rcahel Meginnes portrait

While at Penland, Rachel moved between painting and textiles, transforming plainwoven fabric into gorgeous and subtle studies of color, texture, and pattern. She is headed to Indiana to teach at Earlham College for the next year but will be back at Penland in fall 2016 to teach a concentration.

Best of luck to each of these three talented artists as they continue exploring new ideas in their work! We’re eager to see where those explorations take them, and we’ll always be eager to welcome them back to Penland.
 

Posted on

Studio Visit: Rachel Meginnes

rachel meginnes at penland

In December, Rachel Meginnes’ sewing machine broke. She asked her friend, fellow resident artist Robin Johnston, if she could borrow hers. Nervous about roughing up Robin’s machine by sewing on paint (which is how Rachel broke her own machine), she stopped herself. “I thought about building up texture with more paint instead of by sewing,” she said. “I’m interested in pulling color from the cloth in ways I haven’t before.” From a busted sewing machine, Rachel’s process busted too.

Correction: processes–there are many. Rachel is a relentless pursuer of textures–“texture” having arrived to us from texere in Latin: to weave. Weaving is where Rachel started, and her creation of textures extends from a consideration of fibers, patterns, and their possibilities. How might an artist trained as a weaver accommodate painting methods and material foreign to the loom? Where would that take her? Rachel has gone far, far out with these questions–not unlike the child in the outfield who forgets, the second she looks up and sees all kinds of blue roping through the clouds, about being in a baseball game. Behold the wall of current Rachel Meginnes experiments:

 

rachelmeginnespenland1

 

“If they fail, they fail,” says Rachel, about these ideas: gessoed paint build-ups, magazine transfers on cardboard, abraded surfaces, color behaving and misbehaving, thread and weave, articulate paper folds, that ominous X. Looking at each moment of texture, one begins to see the depths of Rachel’s experiments. “What happens when I can’t sand away?” she says, noting one of her techniques. Rachel’s studio time this past winter has involved voicing her  internalized methods and then veering away–toward discomfort, change, and not knowing what will happen. As a testament to her endurance in this process, check out her bowl of paint-shocked pins:

 

rachelmeginnespenland0

 

Enduring a winter of self-imposed counter-intuitive experimentation might sound, well, painful. Perhaps the pain, for Rachel, is eased by an adherence to the grid–that endless, giving pattern she uses repeatedly. As I entered her studio, Rachel was applying white strokes of gesso to a fabric made from handwoven scarves that she had bought in bulk, cut up, and then re-pieced. She began to talk about the observational part of her work: watching, day to day, how paint affects not only the surface but the stretch of the fabric. I was immediately reminded of Agnes Martin: how the grid is a constant chance for alteration, for something else to happen. Rachel readily cites Martin, Robert Ryman, and Mark Bradford as influences.

The studio isn’t all action. Set away from a table populated with tubes of paint, there’s a small desk next to a well-tended bookshelf. On the desk, quiet arrangements: a draft for a dragonfly, an old issue of American Craft featuring the image of Ruth Asawa, who said once: “An artist is not special. An artist is an ordinary person who can take ordinary things and make them special.”

 

meginnespenland4

 

Photographs by Robin Dreyer and Elaine Bleakney; writing by Elaine Bleakney

Read Kathryn Gremley’s 2014 essay on Rachel Meginnes’s work from Surface Design Journal here

 

 

Posted on

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.

 

Posted on

Photo of the week: Busy Hands

 

alteringhands

 

Students in Rachel Meginnes’s textile workshop picked up some crochet moves during a demonstration this week. The hands on the left belong to Elizabeth Meyer of Madison, Georgia, a return student to Penland. When we quizzed her about when she was last here, she furrowed her brow, and then suddenly removed her wedding band to look at the date on the inside. Turns out the year of her marriage was also the year she did a concentration with Julia Leonard in bookmaking. As she turned her ring, Meyer remembered zipping back and forth between workshop and wedding planning, workshop and wedding planning, and smiled.