Bill Thomas’s recent workshop at Penland School of Crafts was a sort of homecoming for the woodworker, whose parents, Vern and Shirley Thomas, live in nearby Spruce Pine. “Most of my family is buried in Bandana,” he recalls. “I was born in Spindale, and my father was born near Micaville. He moved out in the early ’40s, looking for work. He moved back the day he retired.” Thomas taught “Building the Fox Canoe,” a class featuring his technique for fabricating a sleek, lightweight canoe from plywood panels and fiberglass, in Penland’s wood studio the week of April 7 – 13. He has been a professional woodworker for over 35 years, designing and building custom projects from cabinetry and furniture to sailboats, powerboats, kayaks and canoes, for a wide range of clients. He lives in southern Maine, where he says the environment reminds him of North Carolina. There’s more information about Bill at billthomaswoodworking.com.
Pinewood Derby 2.0: A Two-Week, All-Levels Wood and Kinetic Electronics Workshop May 26 – June 7, 2013
Do you need a reboot? This workshop is a mashup in which the folksy simplicity of the Boy Scouts’ pinewood derby will collide with the techno-sophistication of Arduino micro-controllers. The result will be simple wooden vehicles with potentially complex behaviors. They might be programmed to avoid obstacles, follow a flashlight, or draw interesting shapes on the floor. Technical information and demonstrations will include soldering, coding in the Arduino programming language, and the fundamentals of fabrication in wood.
Pinewood Derby 2.0 will introduce students to the amazing potential of integrating micro-controllers into physical objects. All students will begin by assembling Sparkfun’s ProtoSnap – Minibot. This kit includes everything you need to program an Arduino micro-controller and use it to control two motors in response to light sensors and other inputs. Assembling this kit will introduce the basics of soldering, assembling mechanical components, and programming in the Arduino environment. Once we have completed the stock kits, we will begin to customize our vehicles using the tools in the wood studio to create chassis, wheels, and other components. We will learn to customize both the physical arrangement of the vehicles, while also changing their programming allowing them to move over different terrain and respond to different variables in the environment. The course will culminate in a race through the woodworking studio. Suggested reading for the course: Valentino Braitenberg’s Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology, Massimo Banzi’s Getting Started with Arduino, and Arduino.cc‘s Learning and Reference pages.
Matthew Hebert creates work that deals with technology and its effects on the environment and our sense of place, taking recognizable furniture forms and layering new forms of use and meaning onto them. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of California-Berkeley and his Master of Fine Arts at California College of the Arts. He has taught at several schools including the University of Wisconsin – Madison, CalArts, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is currently Assistant Professor of Furniture at San Diego State University. Matthew Hebert has been working under the studio name eleet warez since the mid-90s. His work has been exhibited in venues including The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, The Berkeley Art Museum, The Milwaukee Art Museum, The Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco, The California Center for the Arts, The Chicago Cultural Center, and Core77 in New York. Additionally, he is a member of the collaborative public art team Unmanned Minerals, with Reno-based poet Jared Stanley and Los Angeles-based artist Gabie Strong.
You can click here to visit Matthew’s website, where you can see more of his work, including videos of ambulatory wooden sculptures like The Lawnmonster.
And you can click here to read Man in the Machines, a profile of Matthew Hebert by Kinsee Morlan for KCET San Diego.
Interested? Click here for more information about this and Penland’s other summer workshops in wood.
This is Gene Ayscue and Dan Bailey finishing up the installation, in the Penland Gallery lobby, of Dan’s incredible piece called Looking Down: Penland School of Crafts. The piece was constructed from over 15,000 photos taken in July, August, and October 2012 from a tethered balloon. They have been collaged by hand and placed onto the background satellite image to form a chronicle of human activity on the Penland School campus. Magnifying glasses will be available for visitors. This piece is part of the 0 to 60 project, which is a collaboration between Penland School and the North Carolina Museum of Art.
This is Dan’s piece as it appears on the Gigapan website, where you can scroll around and zoom way in and see all of the activity recorded in the collage. It includes bits from July 4, from the auction, a few sequences of groups of people walking through the landscape, people playing with the balloon shadow, and other delights. Click here and say goodbye to the next half-hour.
Penland School will have two events this weekend marking the opening of a group of four art installations on the Penland campus. The installations are the work of Dan Bailey, Alison Collins, Kyoung Ae Cho, and Anne Lemanski, and they are part of a project called 0 to 60: The Experience of Time through Contemporary Art, which is a collaboration between Penland School and the North Carolina Museum of Art. The opening events will include a evening slide lecture on April 19 and an afternoon walking tour on April 20. The installations will be on view until August 31.
On Friday, April 19, the four artists will each make a short slide presentation about their work. They will be joined by Linda Dougherty, the museum’s chief curator and curator of contemporary art, who will give an overview of the project. This event will take place in the Northlight building at Penland at 8:00 PM. On Saturday, April 20 there will be a walking tour of the four installations beginning at 1:30 PM. Penland’s director, Jean McLaughlin, will make some introductory remarks at the Pines Portico and then each of the four artists will speak when the group visits their installation.
Filmmaker, animator, and photographer Dan Bailey has created a two-part work using time-lapse and low-altitude aerial balloon photography. Looking Up is a slow-moving time-lapse video of the sky over Penland. The vantage point is reversed in Looking Down, a large printed wall piece that is a collage of photographs of the campus made over many months using a camera attached to a helium balloon.
Alison Collins’s Temps Perdu will fill the Dye Shed, a historic log structure at Penland, with hundreds of yards of muslin and hundreds of muslin leaves. On the yardage is text from Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time. On the leaves are words that refer the things the artist herself has lost. The text is written using a dye Alison made from the rust that collected under some of her steel sculptures.
Anne Lemanski’s Extirpated is about animal species that once inhabited this region but have disappeared with no hope of return. The format of Lemanski’s piece is a series of clotheslines suspended between steel supports based on the contour of Kentucky long rifles. Hanging from the lines will be silhouette images of species that have disappeared from Mitchell County.
Kyoung Ae Cho’s Shining Ground, memorializes her discovery of mica the first time she visited Penland in 2000. The piece incorporates mica collected from the banks of the Toe River into vertical panels made of cloth, pins, and wood, which will be installed on the outside of the Northlight building. The piece is her attempt to recapture, many years later, the moment of quiet surprise when she first saw the ground covered with the sheen of mica sand.
The other component of the 0 to 60 project is a major exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. The exhibition, which is open now and runs through August 11, includes work by the four installation artists along with twenty-eight other artists, many of whom have connections to Penland. This exhibition engages the viewer in an experiential and conceptual journey through time, looking at how time can be used as form, content, and material, and how art is used to represent, evoke, manipulate, or transform time. The exhibition will continue through August 11.
Congratulations to recent former core fellow Jack Mauch on his gorgeous spread in the April/May issue of American Craftmagazine:
“It’s hard enough to pull off humor in art, much less combine humor and elegance in the same piece. The whole thing can end up a painfully awkward match, like a bad blind date.
“When it works, though, the union can be sublime. And Jack Mauch seems to have the touch. Not only can he switch effortlessly from one extreme (his exquisite salt and pepper shakers) to the other (the chicken-legged tavern mug), he can blend the two into one seamless whole…” – Judy Arginteanu