Steve Johnson’s first-session Drawing Inspiration from the Figure class got a visit from five owls this week, courtesy of our friends at the Blue-Ridge Wildlife Institute. The feathery fowl posed for portraits in pencil – like the one being drawn above by Marie Fornaro, Penland’s Development Operations Manager, then charmed a crowd of crafters gathered on the porch of the new Drawing and Painting studio to meet them.
This is an updated version of an earlier blog post. We still have spaces in a number of classes for this exciting session, so we thought we’d make a little more noise.
This June, Penland will turn Australian for two weeks when seventeen artists and educators from Australian National University’s School of Art in Canberra take over our fifteen studios–all during the same summer session, June 7-19, 2015. ANU’s teaching philosophy dovetails beautifully with Penland’s, and we couldn’t be more excited about this experiement. It is not too late to take a Penland workshop this summer and it is not too late to be part of this excellent session.
Richard Whiteley, head of the glass at Australian National University, and Ashley Jameson Eriksmoen, ANU’s head of furniture, developed the all-Aussie session with Penland programs director Leslie Noell. Both schools share an innovative, practice-centered philosophy, and the session presents an unprecedented chance for makers to study with ANU faculty in the U.S.
Students who attend the session will work with Australian artist-educators at the height of their craft. These artists include Richard Whiteley, gold- and silversmith Simon Cottrell, textile and installation artist Jemima Parker, book and multimedia artist Nicci Haynes, and the artists listed in the teaching studios below.
“There is always an easy, open conversation between studios at Penland, and I hear from students and instructors all the time that this creative exchange across media is one of the things that, in addition to the daily focused classroom experience, makes their time at Penland even more rich, said Leslie Noell.
“Now imagine what this conversation will be like with seventeen vibrant instructors who have all known and worked together for years. (Not to mention the accents!) I expect the entire campus to crackle,” Noell said.
Ashley Eriksmoen, who previously taught at Penland and will teach woodworking during the 2015 session, sees a progressive synergy between ANU’s hands-on approach to teaching craft in the academy and Penland’s intensive workshop context.
“[ANU’s] undergraduate and graduate programs are centered on thinking through a material,” said Eriksmoen. “Our workshop disciplines involve art, craft, and design–and are closely aligned with those at Penland. We offer a high-caliber program Down Under. At Penland, we’ll offer it to students who wouldn’t otherwise make the antipodal journey.”
Here are a few of the Australia-based artist/educators who will be teaching during the session:
Gilbert Riedelbauch, who will teach a workshop, for artists working in any medium, on the relationship between two-dimensional and three-dimensional design. Gilbert is the head of foundation studies and the coordinator of the design degree at ANU. See more of his work here.
Simon Cottrell’s jewellery and objects have been extensively published and exhibited worldwide since 1996. He is currently a researcher and professor in the Gold and Silversmithing Workshop, School of Art, at ANU. Metalsmith magazine published an 8-page feature article on his work and practice, which can be read here.
Nadege Desgenetez creates glass work that reflects memory, identity and belonging. “My work,” she says, “draws from an array of autobiographical considerations to explore the sculptural language of glass.” Her Penland workshop will focus on the dialogue between form and color. Learn more about Nadege here.
Suzie Bleach and Andrew Townsend are collaborating artists who create award-winning, large-scale animal representations from steel. They will lead their Penland students through the whole process of designing and creating a steel, animal sculpture.
Caran Florance, whose work is shown at the top of this post, publishes her work under the name of Ampersand Duck. She will lead a workshop titled Bespoke Poetry: Press Poetics that will explore the ways in which letterpress printers can use handset type and creative layout to enhance the experience of poetry.
This building, which is almost finished, will house new studios for drawing, painting, and book arts. It shares a roofline with the letterpress and print building (to the right). The construction crew is working on their final punch list and Penland staff are starting to move equipment in. It’s going to be a beautiful place to work. (And yes, we are planning to move that power pole out of the view.)
On April 24, we had a visit from Nina Fischesser, director of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute at Lees-McRae College. Nina was accompanied by her student Shannon Grangier, three red-tailed hawks, a barn owl, and Char Walker, who is a volunteer at the institute, a glassblower, and a veteran of twenty Penland glass Concentration workshops.
They were at Penland because Nina thought it was an ideal place to release Gunshot, a red-tailed hawk that was rehabilitated at the institute after being injured by shotgun pellets. She invited Char to do that actual release. (See video above.)
The other hawks that came along are the institute’s “ambassadors.” These are birds who would not survive in the wild. They are trained to be calm around groups of people and are shown to visitors and at public events as a way of promoting wildlife conservation and the work of the institute. Here we see Shannon on the right with a red-tailed hawk and Nina on the left with a leucistic red-tailed hawk. Leucism is a genetic condition in which parts or all of an animal’s body surface lack cells capable of producing any type of pigment.
Here’s Char with a barn owl.
The event was attended by students, staff, and neighbors. As we were walking off the knoll, everyone kept repeating some version of, “Wow, we were here for that.”
A few weeks ago, students in Penland’s spring session had a special meal that included lentils, chick peas, and other dishes cooked using methods reconstructed through artifacts from the late Minoan civilization of 1200 – 1500 B.C.E. The dishes were cooked over glowing coals in earthenware pots made by students in Cynthia Bringle’s spring workshop. The project was led by Jerolyn Morrison, who was a guest teacher for two weeks.
Jerolyn’s history with Penland goes back to 1996, when she came as a student just after finishing her B.A. in ceramics at Baylor University. She spent most of the next four years at the school, serving variously as studio assistant, coffee house manager, breakfast cook, and volunteer coordinator for the auction. During this time, she says, she became interested in the “life of the object.” This interest led her to a Masters in anthropology, a Fulbright for study in Greece, and, most recently, a Ph.D in archeology from the University of Leicester in England.
The teaching and cooking she did this spring at Penland were based on her Ph.D. project, which involved reproducing both Minoan cookpots and cooking. Drawing on 100 years of archeology, she began reproducing the cookpots using the local clay in Crete. Then, working from studies of charred food remains, burnt seeds, and residue extracted from 3,000-year-old pots, she assembled what she refers to as the Minoan grocery list. “The clay, the pots, the wood that was burned, the food that was being cooked: once you have this,” she said, “then it’s interpretive.” Which is to say, there’s no way to know exactly how Minoan food tasted. She also had to learn, through experimentation, how to cook in the three-legged earthenware pots. Present day residents of Crete, she explained, still cook on open fires, but they have forgotten how to cook in ceramic pots.
Having completed her Ph.D., Jerolyn continues to live part of the year in Crete where she runs a business called Minoan Tastes that caters special events using the pots, techniques, and recipes she developed through this work. A cookbook is in process. “It mixes anthropology and archeology in a way that’s informative rather than academic,” she said.
Her recent stint at Penland was literally a dream come true. “I had this dream, an actual dream,” she said, “ that I was doing this at Penland. So I called Cynthia Bringle to ask her if there was any way I could make this happen. She was, at that moment, planning her spring workshop and invited me to join her for a few weeks.”
“It was great,” she said. “We got to talk about archeology and pottery as we were working. The rest of the workshop was throwing and these pots are all made with handbuilding techniques, so it expanded the scope of the class that way.”
There were benefits for Jerolyn as well. She appreciated that her Penland students did not stick to reproducing traditional Minoan cookware. “They decorated the pots, which the Minoans didn’t do,” she explained. “And they had no cultural constraints about what the pots should be. It was freeing, and I’d like to work a little more like that. This was a gift they gave back to me.”
And there was consensus that the dinner was delicious.