Posted on

Matt Repsher / Thomas Campbell Collaboration


What a collaboration! When fall concentration instructors Thomas Campbell and Matt Repsher combine their powers, we would not expect the results to be anything but spectacular. Their first and only collaboration, the piece features elegant geometry, flawless execution, and harmony of styles.

Thomas Campbell working on the piece in the iron studio.

The pair found time to create the work for the fall concentration scholarship auction, despite their teaching responsibilities and Thomas’s status as a brand-new dad. “Matt is a dear friend whose work I’ve always admired, so it was exciting to work on this auction piece together,” said Thomas.

The ceramic center of the piece, incised and inlaid with colored slips in Matt’s signature style, was created first. “I was happy to hand something off to Thomas and feel completely comfortable and confident that he would finish it beautifully,” said Matt, adding, “He’s got skills.” It then fell to Thomas to respond to Matt’s piece, working outward to create an elegant cobweb of angles out of iron that catch the light just so. This part of the process involved a great deal of math and a dedicated bending break machine, with truly stunning results. 

Matt in the clay studio this fall

The Artists

The pair first met when Thomas, then a Penland Core Fellow, was a student in Matt’s first Penland concentration as an instructor. They became good friends when they both lived at Penland from 2017 to 2020. As a Penland Resident Artist, Matt even used his class benefit to take Thomas’s two-week workshop in the iron studio.

The two had had their sights on teaching a Penland concentration together. Scheduled to teach in 2020 before the session was canceled due to the pandemic, Matt and Thomas were happy to return this fall. They share a mutual respect and a similar approach to making. Both are meticulous planners whose work invokes “truth to materials.”

 “Matt and I both rely heavily on technique, precision, and line in our work,” said Thomas. Matt explained, “It’s using repetition to create structures and form. He does it through his processes of cutting and bending and I do it through whatever it is I do with clay.” 

Supporting Penland Scholarships

That magic moment when the piece was won at the scholarship auction! Special thanks to our friend Susan Sanders for capturing this scene.

This piece was generously donated to the fall scholarship auction. It was purchased by phone by an enthusiastic collector in a dramatic bidding war, to the delight of all. “I enjoy making things people want,” said Matt, “and the scholarship program supports a lot of people coming to Penland.”

Thank you to Thomas and Matt for your time, knowledge, and generosity!

Core fellow Maria Fernanda Nuñez shows off the piece during the auction

Posted on

HBCU students get hands-on at Penland!

Penland’s campus recently hosted a lively, engaged group of students and faculty from Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse College, historically black colleges and universities located in Atlanta, Georgia, for two days of talks, studio visits, mentorship, and hands-on activities. Driving up from Atlanta through beautiful fall foliage, the group arrived at Penland on the evening of Thursday, October October 27th, and stayed with us on campus through Saturday.

Clay demonstration with Matt Repsher

An essential part of Penland’s equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts, the tour was created to:

  • Share the benefits of craft schools’ programs with students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
  • Create a more diverse and competitive application pool for workshops, residencies, and scholarships.
  • Address anxieties or preconceived notions students of color might have about the receptiveness of mountain communities and craft schools toward cultural and racial diversity.
  • Increase and diversify the pool of African-American artists for future instructional and exhibition programming.
Touring campus with Shae Bishop

This year’s group was joined by two specially invited mentors, Tanya Crane and Ben Blount, accomplished craftspeople who have each taught at Penland. Tanya specializes in small metals and Ben is a letterpress printer. The welcoming orientation included presentations from each mentor on their individual art practices, which elicited insightful questions from the visiting students during the presentation and throughout the weekend. Tanya and Ben stayed with the group throughout the tour, connecting with the visiting students and faculty, answering their questions, sharing their experiences and perspectives, and giving hands-on demonstrations.

Mentor Ben Blount demonstrates on a Vandercook press

Said Ben Blount, “I think it’s important to have the mentors be a part of the program, not just Penland staff. We have come to Penland on our own.  We don’t work for Penland and we can share what our experience was like, being a teacher or a student.”

Mentors Tanya Crane and Ben Blount
Visiting the Studios
Students enter the metals studio for their hands-on demo with Tanya Crane

“It was fun to experience Penland from a different perspective,” Ben continued. “Much of the visit was spent visiting the studios in the same way the students were, seeing all the things being made, being inspired by what I saw.”

There was a lot of ground to cover! Guided by local artist and many-time Penland student Shea Bishop, the group visited the seven Penland studios that are currently hosting a fall concentration workshop; iron, glass, drawing and painting, books, clay, metals, and textiles.

Fall concentration textile students show the visiting students how to operate a loom

The HBCU folks observed demonstrations, talked with students and checked out their work, learned about different processes, and asked a lot of questions. They watched a collaborative glass project, tried out a few looms, learned about ikat and indigo, and watched a clay demonstration.

Getting Hands-On
Mentor Tanya Crane demonstrates enameling techniques in the metals studio

No Penland visit would be complete without a hands-on experience, and this year’s tour did not disappoint.  Students learned the basics of enameling metal with Tanya and letterpress printing with Ben. Not only did they walk away with finished work, they gained an understanding of new tools and techniques. 

Using a torch to enamel a medallion

In the metals studio, students enameled two-sided medallions using the drill press, enameling kiln, and stencils of their own design. “Me, finding out I’m a jewelry maker!” exclaimed one student as she pulled a finished medallion from the kiln. Intrigued by the process, many of the students elected to use their free time to make a second piece. 

Students get hands-on with colorful enamels

In the letterpress studio, the group created their own commemorative poster, learning to set wood type and pull prints. There were three presses running with different colors. The students jumped right in, with the last person pulling their print five minutes before the shuttle arrived to take Ben to the airport!

Tanya Crane participating in Ben Blount’s hands-on letterpress demo
Going Deeper

The students also visited the Penland Gallery, strolled on The Knoll, ate their meals at The Pines, attended a slide talk, and stayed in Penland housing. They spent time getting to know each other and asking interesting questions. What had they seen that was interesting? How could they incorporate new techniques into their work? What does it mean to be a black artist? How do black artists stand to benefit from the efforts of craft schools to increase diversity? Though some of these questions were not exactly resolved, the conversations were thought-provoking.

First Craft School Experience

A sophomore at Spelman College, Morgan Newson attended the HBCU tour with the encouragement of her professor, Robert Hamilton, who has attended Penland. She was intrigued by the opportunity to check out different media like ceramics and glassblowing. Morgan’s first visit to a craft school yielded a number of surprises. She was stuck by the 24-hour studio access, the interdisciplinary collaboration, and the diversity of ages in Penland’s workshops. “I went into it with the expectation that it was just like college, but it was the complete opposite,” she said.

Visiting the weaving studio, Morgan had the opportunity to connect with Edwina Bringle, a Penland neighbor who has been weaving for over fifty years and has been both student and instructor in countless Penland workshops. “It’s amazing to know that I could be in a class with someone who can give me the knowledge and history of their art form,” said Morgan. The diversity of ages also assured her that, even if she isn’t able to fit Penland into her schedule in the immediate future, “I can always come back.” Morgan hopes that one day she can take a weaving class with her grandmother, who had an important role in introducing her to art.

What Does Penland Have to Offer?

We asked Morgan, Tanya, and Ben, why they took time out of their busy schedules for this tour. What can Penland offer to young artists of color?

Said Morgan, 

“It was a great use of my time. I like that Penland gives me the opportunity to try new things and to know find out what you like and don’t like. We get stuck in our comfort zones. It’s always nice to try something new, and it’s good to know that these opportunities are available to me”

Said Tanya,

“I think providing concrete, lived experience with craft schools is essential. Craft schools are more akin to real life because the learning is more self-directed, and not necessarily tied to an assignment. You’re there for yourself to explore what’s in you with some skill-building guidance. Developmentally, it’s important.”

Said Ben,

“I would like to hear that some of these kids have come back to Penland. I think it’s a great opportunity for them or for any artist. It’s a gorgeous place to be making things, with outstanding facilities. It’s also about meeting people and being exposed, not only to different processes but ideas and people from all over the country and all over the world. It’s the culture of being around artists and people working in so many different mediums, conversations over meals, meeting different studios, making things… thinking about making things. It’s a place to get immersed in art-making.”

Oya Oki and her students demonstrate glass-blowing techniques
Following Up

The follow-up to the tour will include four full scholarships for 2023 summer workshops with travel and materials stipends that are specifically for students who have participated in one of the HBCU tours. The students are also encouraged to apply for all categories of Penland scholarships (including 30+ other full scholarships that specifically target people of color).

Each student created a commemorative poster with Ben Blount

Yolanda Sommer, Penland’s manager of diversity recruitment and partnerships, walked the students through the process of applying for scholarships. She has also made herself available to the students for any assistance they might need with their applications. In 2022, five former HBCU participants attended Penland workshops with scholarships.

Penland is building relationships with the schools that have been part of this program, and to foster that process, Penland has also designated two 2023 scholarships (with stipends) for faculty members from HBCUs. These scholarships are funded by a grant from the Maxwell Hanrahan Foundation.

Penland is grateful to the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust for their support of the HBCU tour. Yolanda is planning next year’s tour with Bowie State University and Howard University.

Many thanks to the students, faculty, and mentors who visited as well as everyone on campus who gave our visitors a warm welcome, from Penland staff to fall concentration students and instructors. And thank you to our visitors for making the most of your visit to Penland!

Letterpress magic


Thanks to everyone who made this tour possible!

To read more about Penland’s HBCU tour and its origins, click here.

Posted on

The Core Show 2022


Lars, Molly, Lisa, Celia, Mo, Lilly, Tony, and Sarina.

A highlight of every year at Penland is the annual exhibition of work by our wonderful core fellows. The core fellows are students who spend two years at Penland taking workshops throughout the year while also doing part-time jobs for the school. Every October they curate and install an exhibition of their recent work. This year’s show is title STONEFRUIT, and it opened at Penland’s Gallery North on October 7. It will be up until November 11, so if you are nearby, you still have a week to see this excellent show.

Opening night of the core show always begins with a special supper for the artists. This year the meal was prepared by metals studio coordinator Nadia Massoud, studio operations manager Daniel T. Beck, and glass studio coordinator Nick Fruin. This is followed by an opening reception at the gallery (with desserts supplied by staff and community) and a salute to the core fellows by programs manager Courtney Dodd.

Programs manager Courtney Dodd salutes the core fellows.

Thanks to Sarina Angell, Molly Bernstein, Lisa Nguyen, Maria Fernanda Nuñez, Tony Santoyo, Celia Shaheen, Lars Shimabukuro, and Lily Wilkins for their tireless contributions to life of the school, for their marvelous spirit, and for their inspiring art work. Here are some pictures of the show and a sample of each person’s work.

Tony Santoyo, Interlude, acrylic and pastel on unstretched canvas, 56-1/2 x 64-1/2 inches
Lisa Nguyen, Cat Nap Tunnel, ash, baltic birch, glass, 20 x 28 x 15 inches
Sarina Angell, 100 Nuts, hickory nuts, mixed media, found materials, 44 x 4 inches
Sarina Angell, 100 Nuts (detail)
Maria Fernanda Nuñez, “Not all is not enough”, wood, denim pulp, 60 x 60 x 48 inches
Lars Shimabukuru, fish trap, ceramic, lashed reed, 31 x 20 x 19 inches
Lily Wilkins, Traffic Island, wool, cotton, silk, canvas, 24 x 24 inches
Celia Shaheen, This old ceremony carries me home, handwoven and blockprinted cotton, earthenware, 15 x 67 inches
Celia Shaheen, This old ceremony carries me home (detail)
Molly Bernstein, Benni Goes to Work!, papier mâché, flocking, acrylic, steel wire, phone cord, grommets, 72 x 42 x 24 inches

Posted on

Tony Santoyo, Penland Core Fellow

We love to see Tony Santoyo dance, paint, create ceramics and express himself through all kinds of media. During his time at Penland, Tony has expanded his painting and clay practices and explored a myriad of other media. Tony’s work mirrors the way he communicates; movement follows form or form follows movement. 

Beginning his fellowship in the spring of 2020, Tony will complete his time as a Penland Core Fellow this fall. 

To be in the presence of Tony and his work is truly a joy. We are excited to share these images of some of the works he has created during her time here at Penland (so far!).

The Penland Core Fellowship is intended for early career artists looking to expand technical skills and material fluency while working to support the day-to-day operations of a craft school. Core fellows live communally, participate in intensive craft workshops, and help run the school. We are currently accepting applications for the core fellowship. Please click HERE for more information and be sure to submit your application by October 15th!

“Late night scribbles,” using the body for mark making.
“Extending,” acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 23 x 19 x 3/4 inches, 2022


Tony Santoyo with “Rhythmic Chaos,” acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 x 1 inches, 2020


“No One is Watching,” acrylic and pastel on canvas (unstretched), 67 x 59 inches, 2021


Tony having fun while trying out Raku during Spring Concentration 2022 with Jenny Mendes and Caroline Douglas
“Coy,” earthenware decorated with underglaze, glaze, terra sigillata, 11-1/2 x 6 x 6 inches, 2022


Prickly Pear series, coiled pinch pots; earthenware underglaze, glaze, terra sigillata


Nopal en Cuarentena, coiled pinch pot; earthenware, underglaze, glaze, slip, terra sigillata, 22 x 12 x 11, 2020


“Dotted,” earthenware, underglaze, glaze, terra sigillata, 3-1/2 x 2-/14 x 2 inches, 2022


Tony in the Penland clay studio, throwing a vessel


Find more of Tony’s work on his WEBSITE!

Posted on

Visiting Penland’s Resident Clay Artists

During our recent Fall Short Session, clay instructor Andy Shaw and his students visited Daniel Garver and Sean O’Connell, two Penland Resident Artsits who are currently working in clay. The first stop was Daniel Garver’s studio, pictured below.


Wrapping up a day of plate-making, the clay lovers walked down to The Barns after dinner to talk shop.


Though both residents work in clay, their processes are very different. Daniel Garver is using his residency to refine and expand his use of slipcasting to create clean, geometric objects.


Daniel shared some of the secrets of his work, from the challenges of working with porcelain to his use of “deflocculent” in his process.


Daniel’s work is linear, organic, and colorful!


Fall Short Session instructor Andy Shaw was intrigued by Daniel’s unique use of molds


When students arrived at Sean O’Connell’s studio, he was busy carving wooden spoons.


Sean is mastering the use of the wood kiln and exploring organic, spontaneous surface design in his work.


Students had lots of questions, the most common one being, “How did you make this one?”


Making use of wax resists, multiple firings, and gestural embellishments, Sean’s work is a cornucopia of texture and color.

Penland is currently home to eight resident artists, working in different media. The residency is intended to be an opportunity to test ideas and take risks that will have a lasting effect on their work and lives. Penland Resident Artists live and work at Penland for 3 years. Both Sean and Daniel arrived at Penland in the fall of 2021, so we are looking forward to watching their practices evolve over the next two years.

You can visit Sean’s and Daniel’s websites to learn more about their work. If you’re in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to stop by for a visit!


Posted on

Sarina Angell, Penland Core Fellow

Sarina Angell‘s work never ceases to delight! During her time at Penland, she has expanded her work with fibers, explored many different media, and fallen in love with wood.

Beginning her fellowship in the spring of 2020, Sarina will complete her time as a Penland Core Fellow this fall. Working with Sarina and watching her grow as an artist is an absolute pleasure. We are excited to share these images of some of the works she has created during her time here at Penland (so far!).

The Penland Core Fellowship is intended for early career artists looking to expand technical skills and material fluency while working to support the day-to-day operations of a craft school. Core fellows live communally, participate in intensive craft workshops, and help run the school. We are currently accepting applications for the core fellowship. Please click HERE for more information and be sure to submit your application by October 15th!

Twined necklace; Toe River rocks and waxed linen, begun during Anne B. Coddington’s “Sculptural Basketry Plus,” Summer 2022

Work created during Christina Boy’s 2022 wood spring concentration workshop, “Spruce It Up.”

Screen-printed vase t-shirts: “Because flowers are still mandatory.”

Sarina’s first spoon, created during Jack Mauch’s workshop, “All Outward Appearances.”

Red mary janes, created during Amara Hark Weber’s 2022 spring concentration workshop, “Introduction to Lasted Footwear.”

Broken chair portrait, Sarina Angell

Hats created for the Penland Coffee Shop Core Gallery, Spring 2022

Gold Digger III,” created during a workshop with Stephanie Metz, Session 7, Summer 2021

Cyanotype jacket toned with tannic acid, begun during Cindy Steiler’s workshop in the photo studio.

Knoll face painting. Model, Mia Kaplan, former Penland Core Fellow

Find more of Sarina’s work on her WEBSITE!

Posted on

Our Craft School Summer!

Summer 2022 at Penland was one for the books.

Knoll necklace installation created during Georgina Treviño’s 4th session metals workshop, “Make It Editorial!”

Tomorrow is the first day of fall. This Sunday, we will begin our Fall Short Session. As we prepare for the autumn season and all the good things it will bring, now feels like the perfect time to reflect back upon the special time and place that was Penland Summer 2022!

Summer 2022 in Numbers

This summer, Penland ran over 100 intensive craft workshops with 114 guest instructors. 57 of these instructors were teaching at Penland for the very first time. We hosted over 1,000 students and instructors from all over the United States, representing 46 states, and welcomed 30 students and instructors from abroad, representing 18 countries. 

We ran workshops in every studio, welcoming beginners and experts alike. Students tackled all sorts of new skills. They learned how to build lightweight canoes, cast anything in paper, set tiny stones, democratize printmaking, forge their own tools, create lifelike figures in glass and wood, harness the power of light, and make their own clothes. With over 100 workshops, this list barely scratches the surface of all of the learning and making that took place on our mountain campus. We are so fortunate to welcome such wonderful, open learners and we thank all of the students who challenged themselves, helped their classmates learn new skills, and spent part of their summer being a part of this special place. 

Class photo, taken during Corey Pemberton and Cedric Mitchell’s session six glass workshop, “Touch It, Bring It.”

Studio Visits

Learning took place both in and outside of the studio. Many of our workshops enjoyed studio visits with artists who make their creative homes near Penland, especially the studios of the Penland Resident Artists, located here on campus. Students learned from resident artists Adam Atkinson, Daniel Garver, Julia Harrison, Everett Hoffman, Sean O’Connell, Ellie Richards, Adam Whitney, and Sarah Vaughn. Other notable visits included trips to the studios of Bandana Pottery, Cynthia Bringle, Edwina Bringle, Nick and Lisa Joerling, Vicky Essig, Daniel Essig, Rachel Meginnes, Elizabeth Brim, and Courtney Martin, just to name a few. 

Wood students walk down to The Barns to visit resident artists Julia Harrison and Adam Atkinson.

Scholarship Auctions

Over the summer, we enjoyed four amazing scholarship auctions, in which original art created by students and instructors was donated and auctioned off to support Penland’s robust scholarship program. Not only were these affairs a ton of raucous fun, but they also raised a total of  $54,494.84 to support Penland’s robust scholarship program! We are so grateful to everyone who made these events a success, from the generous and thoughtful donors to the energetic development interns who made them their own to our dedicated staff members who are the thoughtful stewards of this important element of a Penland summer. We are very grateful to everyone who returned to campus to support the scholarship auctions and take home some treasures!

Student Ana Baranda showcases some beautiful glasswork being auctioned off to support Penland’s scholarship program for an enthusiastic crowd.


Plenty of fun takes place within each Penland workshop. And plenty beyond! This summer we enjoyed too many intimate bonfires,  impromptu celebrations, and river days to count, several open studios at The Barns, the Handmade Parade and Fireworks, Ice Cream Truck Day with the Penland Core Fellows, dozens of slide nights, seven show and tells, and a Penland Pride Party. Great times!

Core fellows Lars Shimabukuro, Maria Fernanda Nuñez, and Celia Shaheen celebrate “Ice Cream Truck Day.”

Kids Camp

In addition to all of the wonderful adult programming that happens here at Penland during the summer, we are also proud to host summer camps for children ranging in age from three to seventeen. This summer, Penland put on nine special workshops for kids in our Ridgeway building, making excellent use of its airy porch. Children learned to create cups and plates with Anna Early, rockets with Christine Henry, Shrinky Dinks with Samantha Kirk, animal art with Mr. Jeff Menzer, toy race cars with Mr. Sam, felted objects with Lisa Rose, wooden stools with Wyatt Severs, pots from local clay with Hanna Traynham, and handmade books with Ani Volkan. Highlights included Wyatt Severs setting up a turning studio on the Ridgeway porch, stories, singing and hiking with Mr. Jeff Menzer, and a summer’s worth of tire swing fun had by children of all ages. 

A student creates legs for a stool during Wyatt Severs’ woodworking workshop for kids.

Thank you!

As our director, Mia Hall, said during this morning’s all-school meeting, “It’s hard to describe the Penland summer to someone who doesn’t work here.” We would like to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and thoughtfulness of our staff, without whose contributions this wonderful summer would not have been possible. 

Thank you to our:

  • Leadership team, for advancing our mission of Making Lives Meaningful Through Making,
  • Programs team, for putting together an inspiring lineup of workshops,
  • Studio coordinators, for working to make sure every workshop had the needed equipment, supplies, and skills,
  • Guest instructors, for bringing your knowledge and open hearts to the mountain,
  • Registration and student affairs teams, for helping to ensure that everyone’s needs are met and for managing a mile-long waitlist,
  • Kitchen and coffee house teams, for serving beautiful food every day,
  • Facilities and grounds crews, for keeping Penland beautiful and safe,
  • Housekeeping team, for managing so many important details,
  • Gallery and supply store team, for keeping us well-stocked and curating inspiring exhibitions,
  • Communications department, for helping us fill our workshops with eager students and for helping those students tell their stories,”
  • Community collaborations team, for putting on nine wonderful workshops for our young neighbors during this year’s summer camp,
  • Development team, for pulling off a stellar Penland Annual Benefit Auction this year and for stewarding our amazing scholarship program,
  • Core fellows, work-study students, studio assistants, and summer interns, for working hard and learning hard this summer.

We love this work and the people who make it possible. Thank you for a wonderful Penland summer! 

Penland summer interns and staff check in guests at the Annual Penland Benefit Auction.


And here’s a summer montage!