Evon first came to Penland in 1964 at the request of the school’s second director, Bill Brown. He had seen her work and called her to ask if she would teach a workshop in photography, something that wasn’t being taught at Penland at that time. Her first visit, she says, was a turning point in her life. She quickly became part of the school’s inner circle, and was instrumental in establishing photography as a regular program at the school. Through the 1970’s and 80’s, she built darkrooms, recruited instructors, and was the key figure in setting the artistic direction of the program. She became a Resident Artist for several years, served as a Trustee, and continued to teach at Penland regularly for the next twenty-five years. In 2010, Evon was honored as the Penland School of Crafts Outstanding Artist Educator.
To honor Evon and her part in Penland’s formative history, the new studio will be dedicated to her. Evon’s interest in photographic process and experimentation has been critical in the design decisions for the studio. The studio will be somewhat unique in that it will accommodate the broad spectrum of photographic practice from studio work, artificial lighting, historic hand-worked images, and the most contemporary digital techniques. It will be a place worthy of Evon and her love of play, discovery, and invention.
The Chess Players was a key image included in Evon’s retrospective because it represents the period in the artist’s life where she was working outside of her comfort zone of the Florida wilderness. Living and working in New York City in the mid 1950’s both as a freelancer for publications such as Life and Look and with photojournalist Eugene Cook, Evon was experimenting with street photography, natural lighting, and exploring Cartier-Bresson’s concept of the “decisive moment.” Though she would not continue in this vein, the excitement of making a meaningful image from a buzzing and whirling world never left her, especially in her teaching. Evon used many of the lessons learned as a nimble street photographer to coax her students out of their comfort zones and into the rich tapestry of the history of photography.
Mark Sloan – Director & Chief Curator, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, SC
100% of the proceeds from this sale will help fund the Evon Streetman Photography Studio in the new Northlight building at Penland School of Crafts.