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Announcing 2022-2024 Penland Core Fellows!


We’re excited to announce and welcome our four newest Penland Core FellowsAlyssa Colón, Lisa Nguyen, Celia Shaheen, and Lily Wilkins. They will join returning fellows Sarina Angell, Molly Bernstein, Maria Fernanda Nuñez, Tony Santoyo, and Hannah Mitsu Shimabukuro. For two years, they will live communally, take classes, expand their practices, and help run the school. With so many strong applicants, the selection was very difficult this year. Meet the new core!

New Penland Core Fellow, Alyssa Colón with her work,

Alyssa Colón
“I know that the setting, community, and the amount of time spent in one place matters so much for creating.”

Lisa Nguyen
“I believe experimentation and play are vital when creating any new work.”

Celia Shaheen
“Art and craft education are some of my greatest passions and curiosities, and my goal is to contribute to increasing accessibility and pathways to crucial spaces like Penland.”

Lily Wilkins
“Working with new materials and tools is one of the greatest joys I have ever known and being able to communicate through materials has been a universal connector for me to varied people and places.”

Penland received 90 applications this year. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to apply. The selection process was thoughtfully overseen by the following panel.

  • Brandon J. Donahue
    Assistant Professor of Art at University of Maryland College Park; Penland instructor
  • Vincent Martinez
    Host of the Art Institute of Atlanta’s digital TV platform, founder of Fashionado; Penland trustee, former core fellow, and instructor
  • IlaSahai Prouty
    Associate Professor of Art at Appalachian State University; Penland trustee, former resident artist, core fellow, and instructor
  • Yolanda Sommer
    Diversity Recruitment and Partnerships Manager, Penland School of Craft
  • Marilyn Zapf
    Director of Programs and Curator, Center for Craft

To learn more about the Penland Core Fellowship, click here.

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HBCU Tour, 2021 Edition

This post includes slideshows. If you receive it as email, please click here for best viewing.

Quentin Evans with glass leaf
Quentin Evans with a glass leaf he made during the Saturday-morning hands-on activity.

Penland was excited to host—in mid-October—its third annual HBCU Tour, which brought nine students and three faculty members from North Carolina A&T University to campus for two days of tours, talks, mentorship, and hands-on activities. 

The event was organized by Yolanda Sommer, who is Penland’s manager of diversity recruitment and partnerships. In the three years the program has been offered, the school has partnered with four different historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to create awareness of Penland’s craft workshops among the students and faculty of these institutions. The idea began with a conversation between Yolanda and artist Sharif Bey, who has taught at Penland and is now on the board of trustees. Sharif noted that the HBCUs offered campus tours to high school students, and it would be great if the craft schools could, in turn, offer some kind of orientation to HBCU students. 

After a successful visit with students and faculty from Claflin University and South Carolina State in 2019, the 2020 event, with participation from Savannah State University and North Carolina A&T, was conducted virtually with prerecorded videos and live Zoom content, making it one of the few Penland programs that was not cancelled in 2020. 

This year’s group arrived on Thursday evening and stayed through midday on Saturday. They were joined by three Black artist-mentors: metalsmith David Harper Clemons, glass artist Ché Rhodes, and printmaker Althea Murphy-Price. These three stayed with the group throughout and were able to have individual conversations with students about their career paths in both making and teaching. 

The group gets to see some newly created neon art with instructor Jeremy Bert.
Artist-mentor Althea Murphy-Price explains the Vandercook press.
Artist-mentor Ché Rhodes showing some hot-glass basics.
In the Penland Gallery.
Studio operations manager Amanda N. Simons giving a presentation to the group.


The students were a lively and engaged group of art and design majors with strong areas of interest but limited experience in craft disciplines. They were treated to a deluxe tour of Penland’s studios led by work-study student Shae Bishop with lots of supplemental information from the three artist mentors and the instructors of the six Penland workshops that were in progress at the time. 

The visit also included a session explaining Penland’s scholarship programs in detail, a presentation by studio operations manager Amanda N. Simons about the novel approach she took to financing her education, a talk by Dr. Tamara Brothers, deputy director of the North Carolina Arts Council, shared meals, and freeform discussions with the whole group. 

The culmination of the visit was two hands-on activities, one in metals led by David Harper Clemons, and the other in flameworked glass led by Penland Core Fellow SaraBeth Post. It was the middle of fall leaf season, and the activities were both based on the forms of tree leaves. The result was several high-energy hours of sawing, hammering, and torch work before the group loaded into their van for the trip back to Greensboro. 

Core fellow SaraBeth Post demonstrating the flameworked glass activity.
David Harper Clemons demonstrating the metalsmithing activity.
Anya Laplanche-Dixon working on her glass leaf.
Closeup of glass forming.
Devin Beasley sawing metal.
Brandon Perry sawing metal.
Jeramiah Watson getting pointers from David Harper Clemons
David assisting Iiana Gaillard and Tionne Whitaker
Tionne Whitaker and Quentin Evans hammering their metal leaves.
Closeup of leaf hammering.


Follow-up will include two full scholarships for 2022 summer workshops with travel and materials stipends that are specifically for students who have participated in one of the HBCU tours. The students are also encouraged to apply for all categories of Penland scholarship (including 25+ other full scholarships that specifically target people of color). Yolanda has also made herself available to the students for any assistance they might need with their applications. In 2021, five former HBCU participants attended Penland workshops with scholarships. 

Penland hopes to have an ongoing relationship with the schools that have been part of this program, and to foster that relationship, Penland has also designated two 2022 scholarships (with stipends) for faculty members from the HBCUs. These scholarships are funded by a grant from the Maxwell Hanrahan Foundation.

Kyesha Jennings, content director for the North Carolina Arts Council, also joined in for part of the tour, observing, taking photographs and video, and talking to the students. She recently posted an excellent article with her take on the program.

Penland School is grateful to the Windgate Charitable Foundation and the Kenan Charitable Trust for their support of the HBCU tour. Yolanda is currently planning next year’s tour with Spelman College and Morehouse College. 

Here’s the whole group. In the front on the right are Dr. Tamara Brothers of the North Carolina Arts Council and staff member Yolanda Sommer, who organized the tour.

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We Make Penland, on Giving Day and Everyday!

WOWOWOW! We did it, friends!

What a day! On Tuesday, October 19th, the Penland community came out of the woodwork to show their love and commitment to helping people live creative lives. On Penland’s fifth-annual “Giving Day,” the goal was to reach 350 gifts of any size in 24 hours and to engage with our community near and far on social media, using the hashtag #WeMakePenland. We asked our Penland family to share their stories and to tell us what the school means to them.

The day was a whirlwind of heartfelt posts and grassroots giving. Around midday, we received some exciting and surprising news: an anonymous donor would make a gift of $20,000 if we met our goal or 350 donors by midnight. And we did, with your help. By the end of the day, we had blown our goal out of the water, generating a total of 478 individual gifts for Penland! All of these gifts added up to $51,286 was raised. With the challenge grant, we reached a grand total of $71,298 for Penland! We are so honored by each and every gift. Small gifts and those from new donors carried the day and helped us reach our goal! 38% of Giving Day donors gave under $25 and 25% of Giving Day donors were first-time donors to Penland.

These funds will support scholarships, community outreach, and Penland’s mission to help people live creative lives!

Penland Stories

On Giving Day, you gave the gift of your stories! So many of you took the time to reflect on your experiences here, sharing them with us and with your personal networks. We heard from past and present students, teachers, staff members, board members, and community members. By early evening, our printers were running constantly, printing out more than 70 thoughtful posts and stories, which we hung up at the Northlight building for everyone on campus to view. By midnight, there were many more!

The outpouring of support shown by the Penland community reminds us that we are doing important work here. Here are a few of the wonderful posts from the day:

Creating Families

Many of you met your spouse at Penland! We love love love catching up with you, seeing how your love and your families have grown over the years, or hearing about the start of your journey together. Highlights from this year included two beloved staff members who took the occasion to make their pregnancy announcement and a former instructor who met her spouse in 1989 while teaching in the Penland Textiles Studio! 

Courtney Dodd annd Nick Fruin are pregat!
Courtney Dodd and Nick Fruin are pregat!


Families start at Penland!
David and Michelle met at Penland in 1989!
Creating Community

Many of you shared how being immersed in the Penland community has touched your lives and art practices. We heard from those who are on campus right now as students, staff, and resident artists, as well as those who have experienced the magic of Penland in years past. Folks on campus expressed themselves in a photo booth at The Pines during lunchtime!

Creating the Future

It is an honor that artists, teachers, and friends will lend their voices to advocate for our school, and we are truly touched by your messages. What we heard, again and again, is this: You support Penland because you believe others should have access to the transformative experiences you have enjoyed here. This year, there is no one who captured this sentiment better than our friend and neighbor, Joe Lee:

“One cannot ever truly answer “what if” questions about how one’s life would be different if events had played out differently. However, we can recognize events that significantly influenced our lives. For me, my experiences at Penland were life changing in the most literal sense. The school is one of only a handful of places where the traditions and frontiers of craft media are actively explored and expanded, and being immersed in an environment where one is surrounded by others with similar pursuits primes them to make unique breakthroughs in their creative practice.

My hope is for as many people to be able to access the same life changing experiences that I had, and continue to have. In these times where we are increasingly outsourcing much of our lives, making something with one’s hands for one’s self is increasingly rare; but the experience of doing so is like nothing else I have encountered. It is so affirming that I wish for everyone to be able to experience it, especially those who, like me, have felt or been told that these fields and these experiences are not for them.

We need more people of all backgrounds to weave, mold, shape, and forge, the chain of craftsmanship. We need to repair the links that have been broken and to continue to build upon the foundations that have been laid by every generation that came before us. Humans are makers, and to deny it to any of us is to deprive us all of something that is at the very core of our beings. So go check ‘em out. See if there are any classes you might be interested in taking and if you can, help them keep the place going.”

With those inspiring words, we thank you humbly for being a part of Penland’s past, present, and future. Together, and with the support of each and every one of us, we are Penland, working to make immersive craft workshops more enriching and accessible. THANK YOU, FRIENDS!

Your posts, hung at Northlight!

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First-Annual Studio Coordinator Pumpkin Contest!

Studio Coordinators and Pumpkins!

The First-Annual Studio-Coordinator Pumpkin-Carving Contest! Kudos to newcomer, wood studio coordinator Kylie Little for coaxing these busy folks into a great time! The winner was Nadia Massoud, metals studio coordinator! Her entry was inspired by a conversation with print and letterpress studio coordinator Adam Leestma about prong jewelry settings (in response to last weekend’s workshop). The winning pumpkin features a diamond in a skeletal “gem finger” setting. PRONGS = GEM FINGERS!

Honorable mention went to clay studio coordinator, Susan Feagin, whose geometrically-carved pumpkin was an homage to Matt Repsher, a recent Penland Resident Artist. The judges admired the structural soundness of her extensively-carved pumpkin!

Tapped from Penland staff, judges included front office administrator Josie Davis and bookkeeper Donnie Roberts, who brought considerable gravitas to the task. Closing the doors to the Northlight pedestal closet, they considered the  “substance of the squash” and “gestalt of the gourd” in reverent whispers.

Each pumpkin was special in its own way! Wood coordinator Kylie Little used a dremel to create a “maple-like” surface design on her pumpkin. Print and letterpress studio coordinator Adam Leestma created a pumpkin with “boo” rendered as letterpress type, spelled backward, of course. Iron studio coordinator Daniel Beck created a “punk-kin” with black Krylon spray paint. Textiles studio coordinator Danielle Lasker created a poppet-inspired entry, filled with creepy pins and complete with a stitched-up smile. Excused from participation were glass studio coordinator Nick Fruin and book studio coordinator Beth Lacourt who had important life stuff, but also love pumpkins.

The winner took home a very classy Penland MiiR Typography Tumbler and a gift certificate. Of course, bragging rights are the real prize. Congratulations to all and Happy Halloween!

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The Core Show 2021

This post starts with a slide show. If you are seeing it as in e-mail, please click here for best viewing.

The core show is a highlight of each Penland year.
The evening begins with a beautiful dinner cooked by friends of the core fellows.
Program coordinator Courtney Dodd paying tribute to each of the core fellows.
Sarina Angell; Collector's Jacket; toned cyanotype on cotton canvas
Molly Bernstein; A Map of the World; ceramic material
Mia Kaplan; Bullseye Ring; brass, copper, silver, magnets
Maria Fernanda Nuñez Alzata; What if we kissed in the crack of a kernel; cast denim, abaca, and corn husk fiber, 18k gold leaf, graphite
SaraBeth Post; Symbol to Play II; cast glass
Tony Santoyo; Roadmap; acrylic, handmade abaca and cotton on canvas
Erika Schuetz; Corkybara 1 &2; cork, leather
H. Mitsu Shimabukuro; Hypotaxis; hand-pulled sheet of paper with blowout stencil, cotton, abaca, and denim fibers
The core fellows in the gallery.
Core Show Card
Core Show Card

A highlight of every year at Penland (except 2020, because…) is the core show: an exhibition of carefully selected work made during the year by our wonderful core fellows. The evening starts with a beautiful, quiet dinner made by their friends. This is followed by a reception and moment for honoring each of these hardworking artists. This year’s exhibition was in Gallery North, which is part of the Northlight complex.

The Penland Core Fellowship is a two-year work-study residency that has brought generations of hard-working, dedicated artists into the Penland family–taking workshops, covering important work assignments, and inspiring everyone around them. We are also delighted to say that many core fellows continue to have a long-term relationship with the school after their fellowship comes to an end. We are always delighted to welcome them back as instructors, staff members, and in other roles.

Thank you, Erica, Mia, Mitsu, Mo, Molly, SaraBeth, Sarina, Tony, and Scott (who left for grad school before this event) for everything you have brought to Penland. Because everything was canceled in 2020, we got to keep this group for an extra year, and it’s getting hard to imagine the place without them!

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Thank you, 2021 Summer Interns!

To view these images as a slideshow, please CLICK HERE!

1. All the 2021 Summer Interns!
2. Hanging outside the pines!
3. Clay studio intern Emily helping with the salt kiln!
4. Special events intern Katie making a drone video for the Penland Benefit Auction!
5. Glass intern Andrew with visiting artist Ché Rhodes
6. Glass studio intern John assists visiting artist Fred Kahl
7. Intro to electricity class with all of the summer interns
8. Clay intern Nora assists instructor Linda Christianson
9. Special events interns Katie and Kara sending out thank you letters to scholarship supporters with special events coordinator Marianna Pop
10. Iron studio intern Odette helps fix a tool
Thank you, Penland summer interns! Y’all rocked it! We could not have done it without you! Seventy-seven summer workshops and the Penland Benefit Auction were a great success, thanks to your help!


This summer was special. We expanded our summer internship program as part of pandemic-related restructuring. Normally, each workshop has its own studio assistant. This year, we were able to assign a summer intern to each studio to support instructors. Interns came from all over the country and stayed with us on campus from May through August!


We loved getting to know these awesome folks!


Andrea Ramos – Textiles studio
Andrew Mahaffie – Glass studio
Avery Newton – Wood studio
Elizabeth Kaise – Print & Letterpress studios
Ellyse Bendillo – Metals studio
Emily Gunning – Clay studio
John Dillard – Glass studio
Kara Fisher – Donor relations
Katherine Speer – Special events
Lil Seidlin-Gore – Clay studio
Lindsay Davis – Drawing, Painting & Photography studios
Meera Mittal – Books & Paper
Nora Watkins – Clay studio
Odette Blaisdale – Iron studio
Rowan Leek – Books & Paper