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Penland Everywhere: Session 2

The weather is warm, the mountain views are dense with green, and the food is great—but the biggest joy of summer at Penland is welcoming students and instructors to our studios. We’ve really missed getting to foster the creative discoveries and connections that happen regularly in our workshops this summer. Even so, finding new ways to stay inspired and connected with you all has been a highlight of 2020.

We are reaching out to each of our summer 2020 instructors with an invitation to share a bit of their recent creative endeavors with the Penland community. Our hope is that these windows into their studios and explorations will spark something exciting in you, too. Enjoy, stay safe, and keep making! #PenlandEverywhere

Lauren Markley

Session 2 Metals—Fabrication for Sculptural Jewelry

With shelter-in-place orders in effect in North Carolina, April and May were somewhat challenging months because my jewelry studio is not in my home. I was only able to bring some of my equipment home to continue working. After a bit of discombobulation, I started focusing on work I could make in a reduced capacity studio. I’ve been revisiting old pieces, exploring new ideas and new materials, and (finally!) fixing up my website, things that I don’t normally get to do when I’m busy preparing for craft shows. The sterling silver and paint pieces in the first image are from about 8 or 9 years ago—work I’d forgotten about until recently. The second image contains elements made from brass tube with gold vermeil and some test pieces in enamel. I miss the camaraderie and excitement of craft shows and classrooms, and I find myself thinking a lot about what the future holds for artists and makers, but I also think that the challenges of these bizarre times can be seen as opportunities to consider new ways forward.

Laura Mays

Session 2 Wood—Right Angles, Wrong Angles

It’s been surprisingly hard to concentrate over the last few months. What might have seemed like an ideal opportunity to get work done was in fact a haze of anxiety, attempts at online teaching and dealing with the sadness and turmoil of the students whose last two months of the semester had been torn away from them, heavy-duty parenting and attempting to homeschool my 8-year-old daughter, and latterly, facing up to what has always been here: the pandemic of racism and white supremacy. Having said that, I found working in my shop, when I could get there, to be therapeutic and calming. A chance to be out of myself. I don’t mean to suggest that craft is not connected to the world in all its wonderfulness and awfulness, but that sometimes, its role for an individual can be to allow focus on material and physical being.

1. A wall hung cabinet nearing completion, just a couple of doors to go on. Inspired by the paintings of Nathalie Du Pasquier. Exploring 2 and 3 dimensional conventions of representation, and part of an intermittent ongoing series. Title: Interrupted. The painting is Formagramma by Nathalie Du Pasquier.

2. A small sketch model of a chair. I’m thinking about two coopered shells, one for the back and one side, the other for the seat and the other side.

3. Poignantly, some boxes I had started to prepare for my class at Penland, partially made. I was going to bring them along to various stages of completion when the pandemic restrictions hit and cancelled classes. The finished box is titled Fool’s Gold.

Yurico Saka

Session 2 Metals—Traditional Japanese Engraving

engravings by Yurico Saka

Left and right: I was planning to bring these engraving samples with me to Penland this summer; middle: My assistant manager Michenyanlangelo.

I’m trying to think positively and to spend this time studying painting and English, completing ordered work, and making my new works with my cats for an upcoming show.

I really hope everyone is safe and healthy. I believe we can overcome this difficulty and hope it will make us more resilient, more creative and imaginative. Please take care.

Maria Veronica San Martin

Session 2 Books—Creating Artists’ Books

When I was doing my master’s degree at the Corcoran School in DC around 2012, I constantly heard about Penland in the studios and in the hallways, a new word that became stronger as the summer approached. As a Latin American student at that time and today as a Brooklyn-based immigrant artist, my practice has constantly been focused on the search for new learning and experimentation processes through printmaking, a medium that appears not just as a technique but rather an aesthetic; a conceptual medium to study history, memory and trauma through a variety of representation strategies. When I was invited to teach at Penland, I couldn’t believe I was going to try those studios with my own hands to teach, and share some Book Arts concepts, and surrounded by that extensive nature!

During quarantine, far from the shared studios I work in in the city, I was more connected to printmaking than I have ever been before. With the aim of making visible the injustices produced by the pandemic and especially in the most vulnerable sectors of the population, I started to use printmaking as a critical tool to think about the social and political order and its effects throughout the crisis. These relations resonate with printmaking processes as metaphors of resistance between oil and water, the action of carving a surface of wood, and drawing in an etching plate. With the lack of a professional studio/equipment, I explored alternative techniques and materials using what was “in place”: I used a bottle of vodka instead of alcohol, a window instead of a plate, and kitchen food and stuff as solvents.”

Boyd Sugiki & Lisa Zerkowitz

Session 2 Glass—Form, Color & Professional Practice

Boyd Sugiki and Lisa Zerkowitz with a rainbow of their vessels

In the past few months we have been working together in our home studio in Seattle. Being in the shop has helped us maintain a positive outlook while allowing us to escape through the creative process; focusing on a bright and cheerful color pallet has been healing. In light of our course cancellation at Penland this summer, we plan to meet with our class virtually this month to get to know each other, talk shop and share the beauty of Penland with them!

Caterina Zucchi

Session 2 Glass—Blown Glass Beads: Skills & Shapes

Before the lockdown, I was working on the possibility of inserting willow branches in my creations. I was dedicating myself to the realization of some prototypes. Glass and willow jewels, an initial idea, a hint of something that could be interesting and poetic. There was barely time to take some photos and then the project stopped, but not in my mind.

Photo credits: Chiara Nicolosi e Francesca Nicolosi, @pretaphoto

Ben Blount

Session 2 Letterpress—The Collaborative Printer

Ben sent us a touching, thought-provoking story about a recent print project he completed and distributed in his community. It was such a lovely example of the power of craft and the written word that we made a whole blog post about it! Read the whole thing here.

Daniel Souto

Session 2 Iron—Material Studies

Daniel wrote to us about his 20-year history with Penland and his co-intructor Stephen Yusko and the traveling school he started to bring blacksmithing to rural areas of his native Venezuela. His story is craft at its most powerful, and we decided to feature it in its own blog post. Please read about Daniel and LaCaravanaEscuela here.

 

See our roundup of submissions from session 1 instructors here.

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Photo of the Week: Penland TV?

 

As many people know, Penland’s annual benefit auction has gone online this year, and it will conclude with a streaming live auction on August 8. This may sound simple, but to do it well, we’ve had to turn the Gorelick Social Hall into a makeshift TV studio. Figuring all this out is our IT manager and resident video tinkerer, Mark Boyd. The photo studio has some sweet lighting equipment, which was set up by studio coordinator Tom Condon. Needless to say, we’ve never done anything like this before, so we’ve been rehearsing. Hope you’ll tune in. Details about the livestream will be posted on the auction page closer to the event.

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Forging More than Objects: LaCaravanaEscuela

We are honored to share the work of blacksmith and session 2 instructor Daniel Souto as part of our #PenlandEverywhere series. Daniel’s story is nothing short of remarkable, a true testament to the fundamental power of craft and education. We are proud to have played a small part in his journey, and we can’t wait for a future opportunity to welcome him back to the Penland iron studio. We encourage you all to learn more about Daniel’s efforts at lacaravanaescuela.org or on Instagram at @lacaravanaescuela.

LaCaravanaEscuela (two children holding horseshoes)

This story goes back to the summer of 1997 when I was 19 years old. I left my country Venezuela for the first time searching for a place where I could learn to forge iron. To my surprise I arrived at Penland School, and at that time I could not have asked for more. I was received by the Penland community, and my first teacher was Stephen Yusko, who became not only my blacksmithing idol but also my English teacher. After taking his class I wanted to stay, so I managed to be around for the rest of the summer learning all that the beautiful Penland community had to teach me… Many years have passed since then, and finally this summer I was invited to co-teach with Stephen Yusko. I could not ask life for more—after more than twenty years I was to be a teacher in that marvelous place, teaming up with my mentor.

Having experienced how education changed my life for the better, I started a few years ago to try to start a blacksmithing school in my country of Venezuela, where I have lived since I came back from Penland in 1999. Of course it has not been an easy journey to work in a country where blacksmithing has vanished from our history due to the discovery of petroleum. I tried in 2010 and invited Stephen Yusko to my workshop in Mérida to teach a class for eight friends in my place called SoutoStudio. It was a blast, but it had so little impact that I kept thinking of new ways to spread the craft.

blacksmiths working at an outdoor anvil in Venezuela

Ten years have passed since then. Our economy has disappeared as well as our currency, food, gasoline, propane, electricity, medication, and so on. Five million people have emigrated; meanwhile, the ones who stay are trying to find a new way to survive. A few years ago I faced a personal crisis that put me on a split road between leaving or finding a way to stay afloat with my two kids. I sold some heavy machinery I had and started a plan to take a blacksmithing school to the rural areas where people see no way to keep feeding themselves—not for the lack of land or knowledge but for the lack of basic tools to work the soil.

There I was, with a pickup truck and an old VW bus for a week-long camping expedition to teach these farmers to forge their own tools out of scrap steel found on the riverside. Without the need of electricity we forged not only tools but a new future. Thriving is the class we teach and gratitude is the payment. Now that dream is called LaCaravanaEscuela, an educational platform that has transformed the lives of more than a hundred farmers from three different communities all above 10,000 ft high. They have forged all together more than one thousand horseshoes, hundreds of sickles for harvesting their wheat, oatmeal and barley, and there are more and more communities waiting for LaCaravanaEscuela to arrive.

a woman forging outside under a tent

So, since I could not be there at my dreamland place called Penland School of Craft, I remain here teaching more and more farmers to overcome one of the darkest episodes of our history, comparable only to the battle Simón Bolívar fought more than 200 years ago to free our South America from the Spaniards. I do apologize for not being able to be in the second session teaching, but teaching never stops here where a sickle forged out of rebar or a horseshoe set makes the difference to a remote Andean community. These communities now embrace the infinite and sacred power of the fire that transforms not only iron but a whole society pleading for help and knowledge…

Gracias to all of you for being part of my life and part of my new country’s history.

—Daniel Souto

group shot from Daniel's blacksmithing workshop in La Caña

adding coal to a burning forge

Daniel and a student working at the anvil

 

To see LaCaravanaEscuela in action, we highly recommend watching the short film below.

See other #PenlandEverywhere posts here and here for more content by summer 2020 instructors.

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Artists for Equity

Penland instructor David Clemons demonstrating at the anvil

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been thrilled to hear a strong demand for more opportunities for Black artists and students of color at Penland.

This desire has already resulted in the addition of three new summer 2021 scholarships to our list of scholarships for people of color. They were funded by Penland’s staff, team of directors, and Board of Trustees, respectively. Our staff wanted to make these opportunities as accessible as possible, so each scholarship will cover 100% of tuition, room, and board and also include a stipend for travel and materials.

At the same time, we’ve heard from lots of you, our friends and students and instructors, about wanting to donate to a similar scholarship fund. We’re pleased now to give you that opportunity through the new Artists for Equity Scholarship Fund. The goal of this fund is to increase opportunities for artists of color who would otherwise not have access to Penland due to funding.

In a caring and generous community like ours, even small gifts compound to make a big impact. A single scholarship won’t change the face of the craft world, but it can absolutely open up new possibilities for an individual and start creating the momentum we need to reach a more equitable, inclusive community at Penland and beyond. Please join in with a gift and help bring new artists and new voices to our community!

Contribute to Artists for Equity