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Horse-drawn theater!

Rural Academy Theater at Penland School

Mark Boyd is Penland IT guy and also our connection to the world of big puppets and alternative theater. This time he’s arranged a performance by the Rural Academy Theater, who are touring Western North Carolina on bicycles and a horse-drawn wagon.


Rural Academy Theater at Penland School

Here they are pulling in this afternoon. If you are in the neighborhood, please join us for the show on Tuesday night. You can find more information and details about the rest of the tour on their website.


Rural Academy Theater

Here’s the wagon–with all its curtains drawn–on Highway 19, over near Spruce Pine.

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It Came from the Kitchen!

Penland Friends snack tray

Penland Friends snack tray

Penland Friends snack tray

Feast your eyes on these adorable creations from the Penland kitchen, for Wednesday’s Penland Friends party at the Pines, proof that our kitchen staff are up to some deliciously creative mischief. Need more evidence? Behold, from Thursday’s lunch…

Penland kitchen deviled eggs

The Devil’s eggs!

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Deyton Elementary’s Batik Week

Deyton Elementary School's Batik Week
On Community Batik Day, Mitchell County students, parents, and teachers gather around as artist-in-residence Leni Newell explains waxing – one of the detailed steps of the batik process.

With a grant provided by the North Carolina Arts Council, in collaboration with Penland School of Crafts, Deyton Elementary School in Spruce Pine recently hosted “Batik Week.”  Every day for one week, artist-in-residence Leni Newell led fourth grade students step-by-step through the process, which involves melted wax and vibrant fabric dyes. Batik art has African and Indonesian roots and completed art can be framed, sewn into a pillow, or quilted.

Art teacher Samantha Hundley was instrumental in choosing Ms. Newell for the residency. “Batik is a great art form because it can be done individually or with a group, and Ms. Newell has an emphasis on teaching students and getting the entire community involved,” she said.

As part of the residency, on September 19th Deyton invited Mitchell County residents to participate in making a community banner that will decorate the halls of the school. Parents, teachers, and students worked side by side to learn the process of Batik.

“I’ve studied Batik art for over 25 years, and I love teaching it because it is an amazingly successful, self-esteem boosting art form,” commented artist Leni Newell. “Anyone can pick up a tool and make a completed piece without previous experience.”

If you are a teacher and are interested in applying to host an artist-in-residence, please contact Penland’s community collaborations manager, Stacey Lane, at 828-765-8060 or Penland School is excited to explore new ways of supporting art education in the local schools.

– Shannon Moon

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Focus on: Jerilyn Virden

The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center presents its seventh Focus exhibition of the year, a new body of  work in ceramics by Jerilyn Virden. This show is on view in the Focus Gallery from Friday, October 5th through Sunday, October 28th.

Jerilyn Virden vase
“Black Pillow Vase,” hand-built earthenware

“Using the vernacular of the vessel and working within a narrow range of forms, I use the power of subtlety to create intimate spaces. Each form employs a language that reveals its intentions. My interest lies in the slight shifts within the arc of a bowl that determine the nature of the containment.

Jerilyn Virden cheese tray
“Small Cheese Tray with Cloche and Bowl,” hand-built earthenware, glass

“Looking to primitive objects that have a contemporary relevance, I pare down forms and exaggerate isolated elements accentuating their sense of generosity and strength. Hollow construction allows for exaggeration of features, contributing a visual weight that floats above the table. A bowl that curls back on itself may seem shy and protective, while the force of a gentle upward turn of its lip invites a more active investigation of the object.

Jerilyn Virden servers
“Nesting Hollow Servers,” hand-built earthenware

“Formed through repeated scraping and pinching, building up and finally excavating the appropriate curve, each piece retains the history of its making. Layers of glaze soften these individual marks, bringing more clarity to the form. The surface becomes a way to manipulate scale, moving from intimacy to expansion, in the way one understands a landscape by knowing both the small stone at one’s feet and the bulk of the mountain far away.”

Jerilyn Virden nesting bowls
“Square Nesting Bowls,” hand-built earthenware

Jerilyn Virden is a studio artist who lives in the village of Greensboro, Vermont. She creates hollow ceramic sculptural forms as well as utilitarian pottery. Before relocating to the Northeast Kingdom, she was a studio artist in Mitchell County, North Carolina for 10 years. She was a resident artist at Penland School of Crafts from 2001-2004, and received a North Carolina Arts Fellowship Grant in 2006. Jerilyn earned her MFA from Southern Methodist University in 2001. Before attending graduate school she completed a two-year assistantship at the studio of Silvie Granatelli, in Floyd, Virginia. Her work has been exhibited at the Mint Museum of Craft and Design and she has work in the permanent collection of the Asheville Art Museum and NCECA.

Click here to visit Jerilyn’s website, where you can see more of her work.

Click here to visit the Penland Gallery website.

Penland’s Focus Gallery is a space primarily dedicated to single-artist exhibitions. Focusing on individual artists over the course of the year, it presents a larger selection of their work to gallery visitors and patrons.

Click here for more information about the Focus Gallery.