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Hello, New Core!

We’re excited to announce and welcome our five newest core fellows—Maria Fernanda Nuñez, Hannah Mitsu Shimabukuro, Molly Bernstein, Tony Santoyo Baptisto, and Sarina Angell —who will begin their two-year fellowships in late February, 2020. They will join returning fellows Mia Kaplan, SaraBeth Post, Erica Schuetz, and Scott Vander Veen.

Portrait of Sarina plus image of one of her garments

Sarina Angell
“I feel joy in transforming fiber into lines, lines into planes, and planes into sculptures, and would like to feel that same intimacy and depth of discovery in different media and the intersections between them.”

Sarina currently lives in Baltimore, MD where she works for Aerothreads fabricating multi-layer insulation blankets for aerospace applications while maintaining a studio practice. Recently, Sarina received a BFA in Fibers from the Maryland Institute College of Art with concentrations in Experimental Fashion and Sustainability & Social Practices. Sarina has worked as a studio assistant for Alex da Corte and has apprenticed at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. She has volunteered at the Annual Benefit Auction at Penland since she was ten, has been a work-study student for two sessions, and looks forward to returning as a core fellow. She hopes to explore narrative in her work and to explore performance through fiber and its intersection and relationship to other media.

portrait of Molly plus a grouping of her ceramic sculptures

Molly Bernstein
“Before I go to grad school or anchor down and build my own studio, I would like to give myself the freedom to absorb the knowledge, wisdom, and magic of the myriad people who visit [Penland] and to be a hand that helps hold it up.”

Molly Bernstein is a potter who currently lives in Philadelphia, PA working for herself and as a studio assistant. She has a BFA in Ceramics from The University of the Arts, PA and has studied at The Kyoei-Gama Ceramics School in Tokoname, Japan. She has been a resident artist at the Chautauqua Institution, NY and Studio 550, NH. This past spring, she was a work-study student in clay at Penland and is excited to have the opportunity to return to be part of the Penland community. During her core fellowship, she is interested in exploring various materials and to see where common threads lie in her practice.


portrait of Fernanda, plus one of her drawings of two hands holding braids

Maria Fernanda Nuñez
“As a Core fellow I hope to build on my making skills to produce rigorously fabricated work that is also layered with metaphor and poetic ambiguity.”

After spending her formative years in Bogotá, Colombia, Fernanda relocated to the United States in 2011 to pursue a BFA in Sculpture at the California College of the Arts, which she completed in 2015. Upon graduation, she worked as a furniture apprentice in Houston, Texas and was a Resident Intern at the Headlands Center for the Arts. She is a three-time fellowship recipient at the Vermont Studio Center and has been to Penland twice as a work-study student. Fernanda is currently based in Portland, where she has shown and performed work, and is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Critical Theory and Creative Research at the Oregon Institute for Creative Research, where she now works as a design and research assistant.

portrait of Tony plus one of his handmade paper compositions

Tony Santoyo
“With my craft, I attempt to build self-pride, and also to share with the world my comfort as a person whose identity is defined by living between and within two cultures.”

Tony Santoyo is a painter, papermaker, and ceramicist living and working in St. Paul, MN. He serves his community as a pharmacy technician at a non-profit clinic while also dedicating time to his studio practice. He has received his BA in Studio Arts and minors in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Minnesota in 2018, and has been a studio assistant at Penland workshops since 2016. Tony is a Mexican-American who comes from immigrant parents; he draws from his experience of identity and environment, his place in the world, and his sense of belonging and acceptance. He is excited to be back as a core fellow and to expand on his craft and further his knowledge.

portrait of Hannah, plus one of her woven textile installations

Hannah Mitsu Shimabukuro
“I believe the history of textiles supporting community can be used to help address the inequalities we face today, and I am looking to learn from established institutions like the Penland School of Craft about how craft drives a community’s sense of belonging and identity as well as economic development.”

Hannah Mitsu Shimabukuro is a recent graduate of Haywood Community College’s Professional Crafts Fiber Program in Clyde, NC. Before weaving, Mitsu earned a BA in Studio Art from Yale University, focusing on sculpture and printmaking. They have worked as a printmaking studio technician for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and as a matting and framing assistant for the Yale University Art Gallery. Mitsu has attended several summer sessions at Penland as a scholarship student and will return this January as a winter resident. They have also completed residencies at the KKV Grafik Studio in Malmö, Sweden and the Studios at MASS MoCA. As a core fellow Mitsu looks forward to exploring new media such as wood and glass, while continuing to work in textiles and installation.

This year we received 80 applications for the Core Fellowship from across the United States. As always, there were more exceptional candidates than openings in the program. Our selection committee thoroughly reviewed and evaluated applications over a period of six weeks and interviewed applicants at the end of November. A sincere thank you goes out to everyone involved in this year’s selection.

Last but not least, we congratulate our five outgoing core fellows who will leave the program in February: Josh Fredock, L Autumn Gnadinger, Kento Saisho, Katherine Toler, and Devyn Vasquez. We wish you the best and are excited to follow your future successes!

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Photo of the Week: Mighty Katherine Gray

Glassblower Katherine Gray demonstrating in the Penland glass shop.

We were thrilled to have glass artist Katherine Gray here for a week as a visiting artist this fall. Gray is a brilliant glassblower who works calmly, smoothly, and with what appears to be complete control of the material. Her work is in prominent collections including the Corning Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Museum of Glass, she’s a professor at California State University San Bernardino, and she was recently featured as the resident judge on the Netfilx reality series Blown Away.

Katherine has taught at Penland several times, but it’s been a few years, so it was great to have a chance to watch her work again. We were kind of blown away.

Glassblower Katherine Gray demonstrating in the Penland glass shop.


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An Auction for Our Friend Katie

A group of Penland staff members have set up an ONLINE ART AUCTION to raise money for the family of our late friend and colleague, Katie Chasteen. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn about Katie’s life as an artist, administrator, mother, and important member of this community. 


This spring, Penland staff member Katie Chasteen died suddenly and unexpectedly from heart failure. Katie was a key member of Penland’s development team and a generous colleague and friend. She was also a lover of cats, an inquisitive and creative photographer, a wife to Zac, and a new mother to 8-month-old Mars. 

Among other things, Katie had primary responsibility for managing Penland’s donor relations database, which may sound dry but is a critical part of a good fundraising operation. It’s one of those things that’s nearly invisible when done well but can cause all sorts of  trouble if it’s not done well. Katie, who often wore a T-shirt that said “Nerdy by Nature,” did it quite well.

“Katie was a joy to work with,” said Joan Glynn, Penland’s director of development and communications. “I loved the way her brain worked; she was a puzzle solver. She not only wanted to know how to do something, she wanted to know why. Perhaps that was the artist in her—believing that the process was just as important as the outcome. She was always looking for ways to make things better, more efficient, and easier.” 

“Katie’s spirit was filled with contagious kindness and generosity,” said Rachel Smith, assistant to the director. “She possessed the rare talent of being a steadying force in stressful situations. Her calm demeanor eased those who were quick to worry. She took pride in her work and raised the bar for those who worked with her.”

Before she came to work at Penland, Katie worked for ten years at Piedmont Craftsmen Guild and Gallery in Winston-Salem, where she began as a gallery associate and eventually became operations director. She was also a visual artist. She received a BFA in photography from the Lesley University College of Art & Design (Boston) in 2008, and she continued to make work even as she developed a career in arts administration. Her photographs (show below) are carefully constructed still-lifes, sometimes including parts of her body and almost always incorporating natural materials, which she said were a constant source of inspiration. 



Katie’s husband, Zac, is also an artist. He and Katie were part of a close-knit group of art school friends who have stayed involved in each other’s lives during the decade since they were in school together. After Katie and Zac moved to Mitchell County for Katie’s job, he worked part time at the Toe River Arts Council in Spruce Pine and the Homeplace Brewery in Burnsville. And together they brought Mars Chasteen Trainor into the world. They shared parenting around their job schedules, which made Mars a frequent presence at Penland’s Horner Hall where he was quickly adopted by everyone as office baby. 

“It was a gift to watch Katie become a mother,” said Rachel Smith. “Mars, who Katie lovingly referred to as ‘little man,’ quickly became the light of her life. She was not an overly sentimental person, but she gushed over Mars.” 

“Katie was only with us for a short time, but so much happened in her life during that period,” said Joan Glynn. “She formed deep relationships with co-workers and friends she had met through Penland; we lived with her through a high-risk pregnancy and an early delivery. We were all so happy when Mars came into the world happy and healthy – and just a little small.”

“Katie was a great Mom, and I loved that she was so generous in sharing Mars,” she continued. “I liked to take him into my office for an afternoon game of peek-a-boo. One day he started laughing so hard when we were playing—an unfettered baby belly laugh. I turned around to see Katie peeking in the door with a huge smile on her face. She didn’t want to come in, she just wanted to enjoy her son and a friend having a moment together.” 

It has been a challenge for the development staff to push through a busy Penland summer without the help of this dedicated and gifted member of the team. Several people have taken on extra responsibility and two former employees have been able to spend part of their summer helping out. We are working now to fill Katie’s position, but there will be no filling her place in our hearts. 

Zac, Mars, and Katie


Zac and Mars have moved back to Winston-Salem. Needless to say, it’s been a tough time for them—financially as well as emotionally. Wanting to offer as much support as possible, a group of Penland staff have worked together to create an online art auction to benefit Katie’s little family. The auction includes 32 pieces donated by staff, community members, trustees, and friends, and will also accept direct donations. It will run through July 28. Bidding requires a simple sign-up procedure. We encourage you to participate in this auction—or make a donation—in the spirit of generosity and community that is so central to Penland.

Access the auction here.

Here is a small sample of the work in the auction. Thanks for your participation!

Courtney Dodd & Nick Fruin
Ellie Richards
Jenny Wolfe
Shane Fero
Seth Gould
Morgan Hill

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Photo of the Week: Most of Us

A couple of weeks ago, we posted a picture of the Penland core fellows, and someone wrote to ask if they could see a picture of the whole staff. As it happened, we had just taken one, so here it is. It’s hard to get the entire staff together in one place ever, so there are a few people missing here (including the person who took the picture), but this is most of us: the people who make the food, run the studios, clean up our housing and offices, raise the money, keep track of the money, plan the workshops, let you know about the workshops, enroll you in the workshops, keep the buildings and grounds trim, greet you at the store and the gallery, plan for the future, and more, and more, and also the core fellows, still in camo (see below).

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Photo of the Week: Core Camo Day

Penland's core fellows

This crew is working hard all week to get so many things ready for the beginning of summer workshops on May 26. They are, of course, the Penland Core Fellows: a remarkable group of artists who live together in a big house on Penland campus, take workshops throughout the year, push their work in new directions, and do all sorts of important jobs for the school. They are dressed in camouflage because they are busy and don’t want to be interrupted so they figured they’d be harder to find this way.

Nah, they just decided it was just camo day.

Left to right: SaraBeth Post, Mia Kaplan, L Autumn Gnadinger, Erika Schuetz, Kento Saisho, Josh Fredock, Devyn Vasquez, Kat Toler, Scott Vander Veen.

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Photo of the Week: Upholstery Dyeing

This is student Dev Flaherty and textiles instructor Jessica Green dipping wool cloth into madder (it was previously dyed yellow). The point of interest here, other than the great color, is that Dev was a student in the chair making Concentration in the wood studio. Annie Evelyn, who taught the wood class, is an upholsterer as well as a woodworker, and most of her students upholstered at least one of the chairs they made in the workshop. Several of them also spent some quality time in the textiles studio as Jessica generously helped them create custom colors for their upholstery fabric. This is just one of the many reasons it’s amazing to have so many different materials and processes happening at the same time.


This is the chair he made. It’s quite comfortable.

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Photo of the Week: Filming for Craft in America

Cristina Cordova starting on a new head sculpture with a videographer filming her process

Last week, while we had visiting artists Cristina Córdova and Jaime Suárez working here on campus, we also had some other special guests: a film crew from the PBS documentary series Craft in America! The team was here to get footage of Cristina and Jaime for an upcoming episode themed around identity. This week, they all traveled to Puerto Rico to do more filming in the place that Cristina and Jaime call home.

We’ll share the episode when it premieres, because you may recognize a place or two in it! In the meantime, you can watch the “Community” episode of Craft in America, which also features scenes shot here at Penland.