Mixed media in Donna Brown’s natural dye class.
Congratulations to Mitchell County Animal Rescue, who have been named the 2014 Nonprofit of the Year by the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce. MCAR operates an animal shelter and offers low-cost spay/neuter and vaccination services. Many Penland staff members and Penland-affiliated artists have been involved with MCAR as volunteers and board members and have also donated their work to numerous MCAR art sales. Thank you, MCAR, for your valuable service to our community.
There’s a ballet school in my neighborhood. When the sun hits the glass a certain way, the front window of the studio dims from where I view it from my car, and all I see are legs and feet, sweeping and stuttering together. Walking into the glass studio yesterday I was reminded of the feeling: catching sight of a group of bodies acting and reacting to each other as part of a plan. Students in Brian Corr’s concentration workshop moved in slow and quickening formations: standing, starting, leaning, kneeling, turning, crossing, holding and dropping and wiping off singed tools. Not a fluid dance (is there such a thing?) but a strategic and elliptical choreography as mesmerizing to me as any big-time production of Swan Lake. As Frank Sinatra played in the background, Brian’s students scuffed and stepped, keeping the object–a large, blue vessel composed of two parts to be joined–alive on the punties. Above are some shots of the moment.–Elaine Bleakney
Penland’s 2014 Core Fellows at the opening of their wonderful exhibition at Northlight on October 10. Click here for a slideshow with pictures from the opening and a few pieces by each person.
The core fellows (left to right) are Joshua Kovarik, Jamie Karolich, Emily Rogstad, Sarah Rachel Brown, Will Lentz, Tyler Stoll, Meghan Martin, Angela Eastman, Audrey Bell.
Michelle Moode: Works on Paper is on view until November 6, 2014 in the Penland Gallery, and available online in the gallery’s shop. I corresponded recently with Michelle about her current work, process, and intentions.–Elaine Bleakney
You’ve written that your work aims to give a visual representation of thought, to evoke the process of thinking. What is it about thinking that connects to or feeds the flame of your impulse to make art?
When I’m working, and particularly when I’m drawing, my brain goes everywhere: daydreaming, asking myself questions, remembering things, making up stories. The repetitive tasks that I employ, (like stitching or drawing patterns) do not always require actively making choices, so my mind wanders. I’ve never particularly enjoyed talking, and I tend to have some trouble with words, but there is a freedom of thought that comes with making things and being in my own head. I hope a person looking at my work might have an experience comparable to mine: asking questions, looking closely, remembering things from piece-to-piece, but also feeling a bit overwhelmed or perplexed by all the “bits of stuff.”
I like that wandering enters into it, and how that implies a freedom from typical borders. In addition to making books and pictures, you have ‘bookkeeper’ as a job title. Have you thought about your job and your calling to make art as activities in correspondence with each other?
Well, I think the real trick is to try to see them as connected. There is some amount of record-keeping and note-taking that goes into my art work, and I am generally attracted to stacks of paper. I like to think abstractly about all the information and data I work with in my day-job.
There’s a happy-go-lucky presence I experience in your abstractions, a friendliness I find in the stacks and layers, marks and moments of text. Would you say that this is something you bring to your work?
No, I don’t think I would say that. I’m fine with the work seeming friendly, but it is not intentionally so. The phrase “happy-go-lucky” makes me think of something frivolous and maybe a bit haphazardly put together. I don’t think that’s true of my work. There’s a lot of care and intricate work in there. I hope it’s a bit puzzling to someone looking at it, but maybe it’s a friendly, clever sort of puzzle. Like a scavenger hunt.
Speaking of puzzles, I’m curious about a piece you have in this show called “Math,” and how a title like this one arrives for you: as you were making the piece? How is making a title for a work associated with the work?
A lot of my titles arrive after the piece is made, by looking at what is contained in the piece. In the case of “Math” I was thinking about math long before I made the piece. That text is etched into a zinc etching plate I made at least three years ago, and appears (very tiny) on the piece. Again, this is why I love etching, and reusing old plates in never-ending variations: there’s so much history in the work.
You attended the Paper & Book Intensive at Ox-Bow this summer. How did that experience affect you and your work?
This year at the Paper & Book Intensive I had my very first experience with papermaking, (with Ann Marie Kennedy and Kerri Cushman) which was a huge deal for me. Paper has always been an important component of the different sorts of work I do, and my time at PBI has really pointed me toward continuing my book arts education. I met so many amazing people at PBI; this was really my first experience being surrounded by book enthusiasts from a variety of professions and backgrounds. We spent our time learning, working, having nerdy conversations, teaching each other things outside of our classes, as well as canoeing, playing poker, playing word games, and adventuring in the woods. I am extremely grateful I had the opportunity to attend this year.
Do you have a favorite word at the moment, and if so, why is it your favorite?
I think “ampersand” is a favorite word right now. One piece in this show is titled “Purposeful Ampersand.” The word has an interesting etymology, and it is a name of a thing (I like knowing the names of things) and that thing is a symbol. &. What’s not to like?!
View more of Michelle Moode: Works on Paper here
Michelle C. Moode is a mixed media artist. She grew up in Southern California, and spent her high school and college years in Murray, Kentucky. She received her BFA from Murray State University in 2003, and an MFA in Printmaking from West Virginia University in 2007. Through the years she has also learned things at the Penland School of Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Frogmans Print and Paper Workshops. She moved to North Carolina from Los Angeles in 2011, seeking a drastic change of scenery. In addition to making books, she is currently the bookkeeper at the gallery at the Penland School of Crafts.
Penland will host an art-centered excursion to Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico, February 19-25, 2015–a chance to explore contemporary and folk art in Oaxaca and Chiapas, where indigenous creativity has flourished for centuries.
During seven nights and eight days of cultural immersion and discovery, travelers will meet artists in their studios and discover a vibrant art scene; visit a Zapotec village where pre-Lenten Carnivale is celebrated with extravagant costumes; explore Zapotec archaeological sites; sample cuisine and take a cooking class with one of Oaxaca’s well-known culinary instructors. The trip is limited to twelve travelers and space is first-come, first-serve.
Penland School of Crafts in Oaxaca
Organized by Oaxaca Cultural Navigator
February 19-25, 2015
Registration deadline: November 15, 2014
For complete information about the trip, including an itinerary and how to register, click here.
Our last video from our summer series of video portraits made by Wes Stitt features Penland instructor Jon Brooks, who taught a workshop called Convergence: Forest Meets Muse in our wood studio this past June.
To revisit the entire series of Wes’s videos, please visit Penland Stories.