For decades, Bobby Kadis has been one of Penland’s greatest friends: a donor, an advisor, a board member (four terms!), and, above all, a student. Bobby has taken clay workshops at Penland every year for the past 43 years. After he made a substantial gift to the studio during the Preserve Penland Campaign in 2001, a decision was made to name the clay studio in his honor. However, he didn’t want his name on the studio while he was still taking workshops.
Following a number of years of treatment for gradually advancing cancer, Bobby recently decided that he no longer had the energy for clay workshops. Everyone at Penland was saddened by this news, and it also meant the time had come to formally name the Bobby Kadis Clay Studio. The naming was held on March 14, just before we all stopped traveling or gathering. It was attended by Bobby and his wife Claudia and their immediate family, plus a small group of Penland staff and neighbors.
After brief remarks, director Mia Hall removed a clay-stained towel to reveal a beautiful mosaic sign made by Penland’s clay studio coordinator Susan Feagin. The sign incorporates pieces from some of Bobby’s pots, including one with his signature. Many of Bobby’s friends were not able to be there, so we made this video to share the special afternoon with everyone who missed it.
To the Kadis family, thank you for your unending support for Penland. And to Bobby, a giant hug and a giant thank you for your wise counsel, for the time and energy you have invested in Penland and the whole North Carolina arts community, and for giving us all an example of how to live a creative life. We’re proud and delighted that our clay studio now wears your name.
Unfortunately, it’s time for the update we didn’t want to make: We are closing Penland School until further notice. Based on our governor’s latest orders and recommendations from our local health department, we concluded that we were no longer able to assure the health and safety of our students while delivering them the Penland experience they deserve.
We are now busy working with students and instructors to shut down the studios and get everyone home safely. It’s a strange time—our gallery is closed completely, the coffeehouse and The Pines are only serving food on a takeout basis, and our entire campus is winding down just at the time of year when the energy usually ramps up. It’s been painful and difficult, to say the least.
What is the status of summer workshops and the Annual Benefit Auction? The honest answer is that we do not know. We are proceeding with equal parts optimism and caution. It is our sincere hope that we’ll be back up and running within a couple months, but this crisis is evolving so quickly that we can’t say for sure. For now, please keep your plans to join us and know that we’ll give you as much notice as possible if anything has to change.
And now for a few bright spots:
– Our students and instructors have been amazing. This is a tough situation for all of us, but they’ve shown us again and again the power and strength of this community and what we all do here.
– The support we have received from all of you out there in our wider circles has been so uplifting. Know that your reassuring words matter as we navigate the unknown. And, to those of you who have reached out with a donation in the past few days—thank you. Your support in this time of immense financial upheaval reaches right to the beating heart of our school.
– We have an incredible staff, and we intend to keep them. Our team is scrappy and resourceful, and you can bet we’ll be putting all our creative juices to the test over the coming weeks as we come up with ways to keep Penland, well, Penland. Expect to hear a lot more from us as we find ways to stay connected to this invaluable community!
We are thrilled to welcome four new artists into the Penland resident artist community! Adam Atkinson, Everett Hoffman, Ellie Richards, and Adam Whitney will arrive on campus in September 2020 to begin their residencies at The Barns. They will join current residents Nate Cotterman, Jason Hartsoe, and Kit Paulson.
Penland’s resident artists are full-time artists who spend three years living and working as part of our school’s community. The primary expectation of them is that they engage intently with their work. Many use this time to explore new ideas and directions, undertake ambitious projects, or develop new bodies of work.
Please give a big welcome to Adam, Everett, Ellie, and Adam and get to know them a bit below. We can’t wait to see what they create during their time here!
Adam Atkinson and Everett Hoffman
“We are a queer artist couple whose studio practice has been defined by the deep bond we have to each other. We work side by side in multidisciplinary practices rooted in craft, striving to grow and give more to craft communities to sustain our field and individual studios.”
Adam Atkinson and Everett Hoffman are cross-disciplinary artists and collaborative partners, whose studio practices intersect in their shared connection to craft, adornment, and identity. Having both grown up in the Pacific Northwest, their individual artistic paths question the hyper masculine tropes associated with the wild west. From the perspective of a queer male experience, they make work through mixed-media installations, wood carvings, photography, and body adornment. Atkinson and Hoffman both graduated with a BFA from Boise State University in 2013, and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2018 (Hoffman) and East Carolina University in 2019 (Atkinson).
Atkinson and Hoffman have participated in a number of exhibitions nationally and internationally including the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, SOIL Gallery in Seattle, Wayne Center for Contemporary Craft in Pennsylvania, the Benaki Museum in Greece, and Nogoya Zokei University in Japan. They are co-curators of Spectral Matter Projects, an annual exhibition platform for LGBTQIA+ artists navigating queer perspectives in craft. Slippery and Subversive marked the first exhibition in this series, highlighting artists whose work takes a position of slippage and ambiguity as a way to redefine body-object relationships.
“As an artist, I recognize freedom of expression as both a privilege and a responsibility; making objects in wood is one way I’ve found to communicate effectively and optimistically with this belief in mind.”
Ellie Richards looks to the tradition of both woodworking and the readymade to create eclectic assemblage, installation, and objects exploring intersections of labor and leisure. In addition to mining the histories of furniture and forestry as cornerstones in her research, she has traveled extensively to investigate the roles that play and improvisation have on the artistic process. Her work, both furniture and sculpture, has been included in exhibitions at the Mint Museum, Center for Craft, SOFA Chicago, and the Society of Contemporary Craft. After receiving an MFA at Arizona State University, Richards participated in residencies, fellowships, and teaching appointments, respectively, at Anderson Ranch, Peters Valley, the Vermont Studio Center, and Appalachian Center for Craft. From there she was Penland’s wood studio coordinator from 2015-2019. This year Richards was awarded Windgate residencies at the Center for Art in Wood and in the wood/furniture design programs at San Diego State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“The greatest inspiration in my work is the process and love of hammering.”
Adam Whitney is a metalsmith who focuses his work on forming and shaping sheet metal into volumetric forms by means of raising, chasing, and repoussé. He is constantly exploring and pushing his understanding and knowledge of the craft. When not in his studio, Adam travels for various projects and to teach workshops, bringing his passion for metalsmithing wherever he goes.
Adam received his BFA in Crafts / Materials Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he concentrated in metalsmithing. He has worked as a bench jeweler and metals studio coordinator, taught jewelry design at Raffles College in Kuala Lumpur, and now runs his own studio, AW Metalsmith.
Among the many fine students who were part of our fall session was Hunter Bell, who was in the iron workshop. In addition to working with steel, Hunter can draw like mad, and he did several great chalkboards during the session, including this one outside the clay studio.
At the end of the session, he left this on the whiteboard outside the dining hall — a little tribute to the six fall workshops (clay, metals, iron, paper/printmaking, glass, textiles).