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The Pines Crew, Out of the Kitchen

Keith Moir of Penland’s kitchen team standing with the collection of vibrant painted signs he created for our neighbors at The Historic Orchard at Altapass.

What does a team of cooks and bakers do all summer with no one to cook and bake for? At Penland, at least, they get creative!

Our incredible Pines crew may not have been making breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for students and instructors, but they stayed busy nonetheless. A few lent their energy and talents to other areas of campus—Alena Applerose, our baker, moved down to Horner Hall to help with preparations for this summer’s online benefit auction, while Bill Jackson, Kirk Banner, and Chad Mohr have been helping out with campus landscaping, painting projects, and other maintenance tasks alongside our facilities crew. They also cooked up a much-needed staff pizza day at the end of August.

For others, their daily Penland jobs have sometimes taken them farther afield. Keith Moir, who you may know from his gorgeous chalk drawings on the menu board in The Pines, was able to use his artistic talents on a project for The Historic Orchard at Altapass, a nearby nonprofit up on the Blue Ridge Parkway dedicated to preserving local culture, traditions, and the land that supports them. Keith designed and painted a series of stand-up props that have been installed around the orchard’s trails to delight visitors, offer them opportunities for interaction, and remind them of the orchard’s mission to protect and educate. Thanks to Keith, you can now explore the orchard and take a photo as a monarch butterfly, an apple, a banjo player, a honeybee, or even the engine from the historic Clinchfield Railroad!

Day Dotson poses amidst a sea of meals ready to go out to local families.

Meanwhile, Day Dotson and John T. Renick III (yep, that’s Big John!) spent the month of July working with our local Mitchell County School Nutrition Program preparing and packaging meals for the Summer Food Service Program. Each day, they helped make about 550 meals that got delivered across the county to local students and families in need. “I’m so glad to be a part of this process supporting our community and making new relations,” Day said of the opportunity. “Also, weird tidbit: I got to eat a watermelon flavored golden raisin today. WOW!”

In past summers, we’ve been grateful for the hard work and heart of our kitchen team every time we sit down to a meal at The Pines. And this summer, it has been a real honor to get to offer their talents to give back to our community. Thanks to the whole crew, and especially to Keith and Day and Big John, for bringing so much grace and enthusiasm and care to Penland and Mitchell County this summer!

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Photo(s) of the Week: Packet Mania!

Early this week, Penland teamed up with our friends at Toe River Arts and an all-star crew of volunteers to get a second round of art packets out to students and families in our community. Much like our first round of packets, the goal was to provide inspiration and materials for creative activities that can be done at home by a range of age groups. All told, the Packet Mania team made a total of 590 art packets, the majority of which have been delivered to the Mitchell County Schools Central Warehouse to go out with their local food pickups on May 22.

Penland’s community collaborations manager Stacey Lane described these packets as “much more ambitious” than the first round. They contained a range of drawing supplies and papers, as well as tape, glue, scissors, origami paper, book-making materials, embroidery floss and fabric, needles, and even a small cardboard loom! Each packet also included a fun coloring sheet drawn by Mitchell High student Evelyn Kline and detailed instructions and suggestions for art activities and prompts using the materials. (Want to try them for yourself? Take a look here!)

Of course, a project like this is a big team effort, and we sure couldn’t have done it without the many people who contributed their time, energy, and talents. A big thank you goes out to:

  • Lisa Rose, Meg Peterson, and Stacey Lane, who coordinated the project through Penland’s community collaborations program
  • Mitchell County art teachers Melisa Cadell, Olivia Ellis, Leslie Dickerson, and Marisa Westall, who helped plan and provide content
  • Subs with SuitCASEs teaching artists Taylor Styles, Alena Applerose, and Sherry Lovett, who created lessons for the packets
  • Toe River Arts outreach coordinator Melanie Finlayson, who helped plan and coordinate this project and provided stickers and envelopes for the packets
  • Toe River Arts staff Debra Carpenter, JoAnn Townsend, and Tracy Maisch, who helped assemble packet materials
  • Kristie Autrey of Mitchell County Schools, who acted as liaison for the project
  • Cathy Adelman, Annie Evelyn, Kathie Sigler, and Sam Reynolds, who volunteered to prepare each packet’s pamphlet book materials
  • Penland core fellows Erica Schuetz, Mitsu Shimabukuro, and Scott Vander Veen, who cut burlap for the embroidery project
  • Mitchell High student Evelyn Kline, who created a special coloring sheet to include in each packet
  • Local student Lillian Kline, who helped with the shadow drawing project
  • The wonderful volunteers who helped with packet assembly, including Erica Schuetz, Michael Kline, Evelyn Kline, and Alena Applerose
  • And the generous donors who contributed funds to help make this project a reality!

We feel really lucky to be part of such a warm and generous community, and we can’t wait to see what creative ideas spring from these effort! We hope to share some of them with you in the coming weeks.

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Art at School, Art at Home

Meg Peterson making art supply packets

Penland’s Community Collaborations Program is dedicated to bringing art opportunities to students and neighbors in our local community. Sometimes, this work takes place on campus through our summer kids camps and events like our Community Open House. But more often, it happens in local classrooms thanks to longstanding partnerships with our Mitchell County schools. And now that our local schools are closed and a stay at home order has been issued in North Carolina, our Community Collaborations staff have pivoted their work toward new approaches that can help bring art opportunities right to our neighbors’ homes.

One of these efforts is an adaptation of Penland’s Teaching Artist Initiative. For decades, Penland’s Meg Peterson (pictured above) has been working with local students and teachers to create involved handmade journals that weave art into classroom studies of science, history, writing, and more. It’s hands-on, material-intensive work that encourages individual exploration and discovery. And now, Meg hopes, it’s something that her 3rd and 4th grade students can continue working on at home. This week, Meg has been busy creating 166 packets for them that include materials and prompts that mesh with the science curriculum in their classrooms—investigations of soil and landforms in one school, and explorations of body systems and nature observation in the other. “Students at Gouge Elementary are getting a whole kit to make natural earth paints,” Meg explains. The kits include gesso board, instructions, information on prehistoric cave painting and aboriginal earth painting, and a sample of a prevalent local rock. “The rock easily grinds to powder,” Meg says. “Then students can turn that powder into the most beautiful red-orange pigment.”

Stacey Lane putting together art supply packets

A second initiative is tied to the food distribution service recently established by Mitchell County Schools. The service has been delivering an incredible 1000 meals per day to families in our area, and it will now be delivering art materials, too! Penland staff members Stacey Lane (above) and Lisa Rose teamed up with local art teachers Leslie Dickerson, Melisa Cadell, and Olivia Ellis, as well as some of Penland’s Subs with Suitcases teaching artists, to create a set of prompts that can engage students and their family members of all ages. “Find an object from outdoors in nature…take a close-up look at the object and draw only the part your eyes have zoomed in on,” suggests one prompt. “Challenge yourself: Draw a glass of water with or without ice,” suggests another. Stacey, Lisa, and Penland core fellows Mitsu Shimabukuro, Erica Schuetz, and Mo Nuñez put in long hours this week to package the prompts together with materials such as colored pencils, a sharpener, paintbrushes, paper scraps, and book board. All told, they created 434 art packets that will go out to Mitchell County families this week.

This is certainly a difficult time for communities across the country, and our rural corner of North Carolina is no different. We hope that these efforts will bring a bit of creativity and fun to the next few weeks as we all try to adapt to the difficulties and uncertainties of this new normal.

For anyone else out there who would like some fun art ideas, you can find the prompts here: Art at Home Activities.

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Handmade Parade & Fireworks!

Last week, we celebrated Independence Day the best way we know how: with all of you! We kicked off the evening with the traditional Handmade Parade, followed by ice cream for all, picnicking on the lawn, and an impressive fireworks display at dark. A more extensive album of photographs is available to view here; below, we share a few of our favorite shots that encapsulate what we love most about this annual celebration.

Community
It’s all the people here, from students and staff to neighbors and visitors from afar, who make this event feel so full of life. Thank you to everyone who joined us for bringing your energy and helping us celebrate!

Color
Bring your red, white, and blue—and your orange, green, brown, pink, and purple, too! This parade is in full color.

Passion
A highlight this year was the entry focused on pollution and single-use plastics, including these remarkable plastic bag outfits and a giant sea turtle float. Thank you for reminding us that celebration and action go hand in hand.

Creativity
This wonderful beast was born from some cardboard boxes, a couple sticks, bright paint, and a lot of creative vision. It’s always a treat to see the ideas that are brought to life for the parade.

Camaraderie
The session 3 weaving class stuck close together to walk this giant choreographed loom all the way up Conley Ridge Road.

Dedication
Here’s (part of) our facilities and ground crew, aka the folks who orchestrate the entire fireworks display. They each go through a multi-day certification training, as well as spend days before the event designing the show, getting everything set up, and readying the 20,000 bottle rockets you see here!

Celebration
At the end of the day, it’s not just about the parade or the incredible fireworks. It’s about you all being here together, with us, celebrating the creativity and energy that make this place so special. Bring your ideas, your passions, your friends, and join us on the lawn next year!

 

Thanks to Mercedes Jelinek for taking and sharing the final two images in this post.

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Photo(s) of the Week: Open House

NOTE: This post contains a nice slideshow, which probably won’t look so good in the e-mail version. So if you are looking at this on e-mail, please click here to see the slideshow.

Every March, Penland hosts a community open house that brings about 700 visitors and 100 volunteers to the campus for an afternoon of fun in the Penland studios. Here’s a glimpse of this year’s event.

Clamp-resist indigo dyeing
Clamping cloth before dyeing
Casting a pewter ring
Filing a cast pewter ring
Forging steel hooks
Twisting an steel hook
Glassblowing demonstration
Making glass beads
Shaping wooden bookmarks
Shaping wooden bookmarks
Printing a poster on the letterpress
Assembling botanical photograms
Washing photograms in the darkroom
Using the potter's wheel
Making stuff from clay
Paste paper painting

Thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers, to Mitchell Transport for running shuttles, to The Pizza Shop for the tasty lunch, and to Dr. Taylor Townsend DDS, Burleson Plumbing, and Ledger Ace Hardware who generously donated in support of this event.

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July 4th Celebrations

Every summer, Penland celebrates the 4th of July much like the rest of the country—with picnics, with a parade, with fireworks. But when you get a whole community of creative people together, there are bound to be some extra quirks and flourishes that make the event memorable and uniquely “Penland.” This year was no different, thanks to the enthusiasm and flair of our students, instructors, staff, residents, and community. Here’s a look at some highlights from the most spirited day of the summer:

Picnic-ing in front of the Dye Shed

7:00 PM – Friends and families gathered on blankets and lawn chairs all along the road to chat, enjoy a picnic dinner or a drink, and wait for the festivities.

the head of the parade marches up Conley Ridge Rd

7:34 PM – Here comes the parade! A banner printed with the Declaration of Independence headed up this year’s procession, along with a Statue of Liberty costume, a pretty rad bowtie, and quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, Theodore Roosevelt, and Patrick Henry.

plywood sculptures on parade

7:36 PM – Matthew Hebert’s wood students came marching by with the kinetic plywood sculptures they designed and made this session. There were snipping scissors, a frog with a moving tongue, a stove with flames that swirled as it rolled, an Uncle Sam statue with gesticulating arms, and more.

parade float with rainbows and a giant rat

7:40 PM – This epic float with rainbows and a giant hamster came rolling down the road. Parade entries are a reflection of the passions and priorities of Penland’s community, and pride and “Keep families together” were both recurring themes this year.

La Llorona float approaches with the mountain in the background

7:47 PM – The impressive La Llorona float, a joint effort between Martin Mazorra’s letterpress workshop and Jay Ryan’s screenprinting students, made its way past the knoll. This crew was also responsible for many of the gorgeous posters that were part of this year’s parade.

The fireworks crew brings up with rear in a pickup truck full of bottle rockets

7:54 PM – Penland’s facilities and grounds crew (aka fireworks show magicians) brought up the rear of the parade, along with 20,000 bottle rockets decked out in their rainbow finery.

core fellows serve up ice cream from big cardboard tubs

8:08 PM – Two big carts of vanilla and chocolate ice cream rolled out onto the Pines Portico, and a team of heroic core fellows started speed scooping.

Violet gets a bit messy eating chocolate ice cream

8:10 PM – The youngest members of the Penland community showed us all how to truly enjoy a cone.

the parade award for "Most Sparkliest Artist"

8:15 PM – Awards were given out to parade participants in a variety of silly and less-silly categories including “Over the Rainbow,” “Most Industrious,” “Dirtiest Clothes,” “Most Patriotic,” and “Most Sparkliest Artist.” Each award was handmade by students and instructors in Penland’s workshops.

sunset over the knoll while waiting for fireworks

8:37 PM – More picnicking and relaxing went down on the lawn while the sun set over the mountains. A bonfire burned out on the knoll, ready to ignite the bottle rockets that accompany the end of the fireworks show.

fireworks exploding over the knoll

9:28 PM – The first colorful explosions lit up the sky. Oohs and aahs quickly followed.

two views of Penland's fireworks finale

9:42 PM – The entire Penland campus burst into screams and applause as the fireworks reached their finale and 20,000 bottle rockets shot towards the sky. Dave and his crew really know how to put on a show, and dozens of folks commented that this year’s was the best one yet.

A huge thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate creativity and community with us! Let’s do it again next year.

See even more photos over on our Facebook album of the 2018 parade.

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Inside Out: Sketches from Inside

“If I am to have a message to the world out there, let it be: ’There are some of us, a good number of us, who strive to be better versions of ourselves, even from behind these walls. Don’t forget about us.”
—Robert Reid, Inside Out artist

Guests enjoy the artwork at the opening reception for “Inside Out.”

This spring, through a new collaboration between Penland and the Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institution, three Penland artists led a Prison Arts Pilot Program with a group of local inmates. Iron studio coordinator Daniel Beck, core fellow Sarah Rose Lejeune, and former resident artist Rachel Meginnes worked with fifteen incarcerated men over a period of nine weeks. “Our original intention was to solely focus on drawing exercises, as many of the men were most interested in learning skills and art terms that others are able to learn in school,” they explained. “Over the weeks, though, our drawing exercises turned into communal teaching opportunities in which all participants taught each other and we all learned to grow together as artists.”

The program culminated last month in an exhibition of artwork titled Inside Out: Sketches from Inside. The show, held at Fox & the Fig coffee shop in downtown Spruce Pine, was a collection of drawings from twelve artists who participated in the program. Their pieces included work in pencil, pen, pastels, and watercolor, with subjects varying from landscapes to detailed portraits of people and animals to works combining words and images. The common thread that connected them all was an astonishing level of talent and a real dedication to the practice and craft of drawing. As Daniel, Sarah Rose, and Rachel noted in their introduction for the show, “More than anything, the men at AMCI would like you to know that they have talent, heart, and soul and do not want to be forgotten.”

A viewer admiring some of the work, including portraits of a German shepherd and a parrot
Admiring the details on a portrait of a German shepherd

Although none of the artists could be at the opening, many had written statements about their practice that were on view as part of the show. Just like the drawings, these statements communicated a deep commitment and focus. “When our voices can’t reach the outside we still express our language of art as a reminder of our humanity, love, and our deepest feelings and expression,” wrote Nick Tucci-Caselli. “Art has completely changed my life, and with it came hope, purpose, goals, dreams, and a coping mechanism in times of stress, depression, and loneliness.” Another artist, Frederick Brason, wrote, “I hope to learn as much as I can from this class and all the incredibly talented inmates around me before I go home in three years and have a good foundation to build upon for the future. Through my art I hope to inspire others to explore their own creativity in whatever capacity it manifests.”

Alongside the statements from the artists there was a guestbook that viewers were encouraged to sign to share their thoughts and feedback with the artists. Reading through those pages revealed the power of the show and the impact of each artist’s talent. “I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to see your work and read your words—I see your hearts and souls throughout your creative expressions,” commented one guest. “Thank you for sharing this part of yourselves with us. We need your gifts more than ever and welcome them among us,” wrote another.

Angela Lamm of AMCI explains the impact these art classes had on the inmates she works with. She told one story about an inmate who had put in a request for a transfer but then cancelled it when he learned about the classes because he finally felt like his voice was being heard.

Inside Out: Sketches from the Inside will be on view at Fox & the Fig in Spruce Pine, NC through May 19. Visitors are encouraged to come and appreciate this special exhibition and to leave a message for the artists. Donations are also being collected to help support the continuation of the art program at Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institution; in the words of the teaching artists, the classes have been “successful beyond our greatest expectations.”

Thanks to teaching artists Daniel T. Beck, Sarah Rose Lejeune, and Rachel Meginnes; Penland’s Community Collaborations Manager Stacey Lane; Aaron Buchanan at Fox & the Fig; and Angela Lamm, Dawn McMahan, and Jason Penland at AMCI for organizing this program and show. And a big thanks to the artists who participated: Bobby Autry, David Baugess, Frederick Brason, Tyvon Gabriel, Eric Hughes, David Jones, Michael Lewis, Robert Reid, Juan Santiago, Michael Sheets, Antonio Trejo, and Nicolas Tucci-Caselli.