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A Quiet Hum of Activity

Although, like everyone else, we’re in a strange, in-between state at Penland right now, there is activity in our wonderful studios. Thanks to our productive core fellows and a limited program of studio rentals, things are still happening.

Here are a few of the people who have been animating our spaces the past few weeks.

Jennifer Schmidt in the letterpress studio

Jenn Schmidt filled the letterpress studio with hundreds of multi-colored prints for an upcoming project. Jenn is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives in Brooklyn and is the chair of print, paper, and graphic arts at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (Boston).

 

Erica Stanwytch Bailey in the Penland metals studio.

This is Erica Stanwytch Bailey, a jeweler from Asheville, working in the upper metals studio. Right now on her Instagram page, you can see a video of Erica talking shop with jeweler Anna Johnson, who will be teaching at Penland in May.

 

 

Tasha McKelvey in the Penland clay studio

Tasha McKelvey is a ceramic artist from Richmond, Virginia. She was in the upper clay studio making some production work: brightly colored, tiny houses.

 

maria fernanda nunez in the Penland iron studio

Core fellow Maria Fernanda Nuñez, a.k.a. Mo, makes evocative artwork in a number of different media. On this day, she was, very practically, making wedges for splitting wood.

 

Leslie Smith and Jean McLaughlin in the Penland print studio

Here in the print studio, safely distanced from each other, are Leslie Smith and Jean McLaughlin. Leslie is the director of graphics and textiles at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art in Winston-Salem, NC. Jean was Penland’s director for 20 years. Lately she’s been spending a lot of time with ink and paper.

 

Chalkboard in the Penland wood studio.

And finally, here is some guidance for wood studio renters from our studio coordinator, Aspen Golann. Remember, you should only use the big belt sander between 7 and 11 with a buddy in the building, but you can make models and dream all night long!

The studio rental program, which is limited to people who have worked in our studios in some capacity in the past, has been extended to April 24. Complete information is here.

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Penland Everywhere: Online Programming Coming this Winter

We’ve been holding this one in for a long time, and we’re thrilled to finally be able to announce: Penland is going online!

We are planning a series of online programming for you, including online demonstrations with Q&A sessions and immersive online workshops. Our goal is to give students who have never been to Penland an opportunity to experience our unique approach to teaching and learning in community and to give past students a chance to reconnect with the familiar rhythms and spaces of time at Penland. You’ll be able to enjoy the same studios, same expert instruction, and same generous and engaged peers—now in a new format that makes the Penland experience more accessible than ever!

We are not developing these online programs as stand-ins for our on-campus workshops. Rather, they are a way to seize this moment and bring the skill, creativity, inspiration, energy, and focus of a Penland session right to you. Wherever you are in the world, and wherever you are in your artistic journey, we hope you’ll join us to go a little deeper with Penland Everywhere.

Our first demonstrations and workshops will be available in January. Subscribe to Penland newsletters and follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get the details as we release them.

 

This project is funded in part by a grant from South Arts with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 

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Birds-Eye View

Floor plan of the Penland wood studio
Coordinator Aspen Golann’s floor plan of the Penland wood studio.

As Penland begins to make plans for workshops in 2021, we are thinking about many things in a new way. Among the questions we have to answer are basic ones like how many people can we safely accommodate in each studio?

This particular question is not simple, as each studio layout is different and so are the activities that happen in them. Solving this involves, among other things, cartography. To figure out how many people can safely work together in a given space using particular equipment, it helps to start with a carefully-drawn map of the space, the furniture, and the equipment.

Floor plan of the Penland print and letterpress studios
Coordinator Adam Leestma’s floor plan of the letterpress and print studios.

So, Amanda Simons, Penland’s studio operations manager, gave our studio coordinators a crash course in Adobe Illustrator, a widely-used graphic design program. The coordinators then carefully measured their studios and their contents and constructed these beautiful floor plans that can be manipulated to try different layouts. Each circle represents a person with a safe space around them. By arranging and rearranging the elements in these birds-eye diagrams, the coordinators can arrive at a COVID-conscious number for how many people can work safely in each space.

floor tape marking each student's work space in the Penland drawing and painting studio
Tape lines in the drawing and painting studio marking each student’s work area.

Meanwhile, other people on staff are rethinking our housing and developing plans for serving food. And the studios are retooling to facilitate socially distanced teaching—including installing video equipment so students can follow detailed demonstrations on a screen instead of huddling together.

We like to say that, along with teaching craft skills, Penland teaches creative problem-solving, and this pandemic is challenging us to practice it ourselves, in every part of our operation.

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Your Penland, Your Words

three images of Penland with the "We Make Penland" logo

Last month, as we celebrated our 4th annual Penland Giving Day with all of you, there was a sentiment we repeated over and over: We Make Penland.

We chose that phrase as the foundation of our campaign for a few reasons—its sense of continual action, the nod to creativity and craft inherent in the word “make,” but mostly the reference to community in the word “we.”

Penland is about people. It’s about the people who come to teach and share their knowledge. It’s about the people who bring fresh ideas and energy to the studios. It’s about the people who work every day to make sure that Penland can continue to deliver its creative programming. It’s about the people who explore and learn and grow in the studios and inspire others to do the same. In short, it’s about all of us—all of you.

As a way to celebrate this community and all of you who make it so rich, we wanted to share some of your #WeMakePenland stories. The quotes below are just a handful of the 250+ posts that you shared during Penland’s Giving Day this year. Each one illuminates a different facet about time at Penland and what it means to share it with this creative community of likeminded folks.

Three Penland staff members with "We Make Penland" postcards

In that first week there a revolution happened inside of me, liberating my vision and creative voice and showing me a life I hadn’t been sure was possible. —Susan

The people make Penland … well OK, the setting, the classes, the staff, the food, AND THE PEOPLE make Penland. —Mary

Penland changed my life—When I first moved to this area it was to learn to make pots from the amazing potters surrounding the school. What I found was finally feeling accepted as a maker and a human. These are my people!! —Courtney

My first time at Penland I was only 21 way back in 1988. It immediately changed my vision of what craft could be… Penland is imprinted on my soul. Such a powerful place to learn and share. —David

Penland gave me the confidence to pursue my passion for ceramics, taught me that true friendships can be made in minutes, and to trust myself both in the studio and out in the “real world.” —Alissa

Penland is a MAGICAL PLACE. There is so much creativity, camaraderie, and joy in a beautiful natural setting with the best-equipped studios open 24/7, delicious food, and much more. But most of all, Penland is about the PEOPLE, the special gathering of like-minded souls who come together to make art and community and leave with life-long friendships and a renewed faith in the world. Penland will always hold a special place in my heart. —Sharon

Penland reminds me what it means to be human, to connect through my heart and hands, to share, to laugh and to make. —Mary

When I think about places and experiences that have had the greatest impact on my life, Penland School of Craft is at the top of the list. During my two years as a core fellow, the trajectory of my life and career came into focus. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the skills I learned, the relationships I formed, and the encouragement and support that pours out of this magical place. —Rachel

Thank you, friends, for your love and commitment to the Penland community. We are so grateful for each and every one of you. WE MAKE PENLAND, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Want even more #WeMakePenland stories? Here’s a roundup from last year and another from 2018. Enjoy!

 

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Tomorrow, #WeMakePenland

We Make Penland October 7

Penland‘s Giving Day is Wednesday, October 7

Every year, Giving Day is a celebration—of the creativity and exploration that thrive in our studios, the skills and materials that form the basis of our craft, and the community of makers/artists/friends at the heart of it all. It’s 24 hours for us to reflect on the techniques we’ve learned, the inspirations we’ve gained, and the connections we’ve made, and it’s 24 hours for us to express our gratitude by giving back!

Tomorrow, October 7, please add your gift and add your voice to the #WeMakePenland chorus. Our goal is to reach 350 gifts in just 24 hours—and to make the internet feel like one big Penland hug while we‘re at it!

Here’s how YOU can help:

Make a gift – Every donation gets us closer to our goal and helps support Penland studios, instructors, scholarships, staff, and more. (If you want to donate early and have it count, you can do that right here!)

Share your story  Use #WeMakePenland to share your favorite Penland photos and memories to social media. We want to hear about your first Penland workshop, your best studio buddy, or that project you’re working on now thanks to a long-ago Penland idea!

Tune in on Zoom – Join us at 8:15 PM on October 7 for a special Giving Day Gathering. We’ll kick off the event in everyone’s favorite campus hub, the Penland Coffeehouse! From there we’ll share some exciting news about what’s on the horizon at Penland, introduce you to our newest studio coordinator, and take you through a few of our favorite Penland moments over the years. Come with a warm beverage and a cookie or two* and get cozy! Zoom info below.

To each of you who has contributed your creativity and energy and love to Penland, thank you. You are each a vital part of what makes this community so vibrant, supportive, and inspiring. Together, #WeMakePenland.

*Penland’s baker, Alena Applerose, shared a couple of her favorite cookie recipes with us for the occasion. If you’ve been missing the Coffeehouse peanut butter cookies, this is your chance! Get the recipes here.

We Make Penland...Welcoming & Delicious, Cozy, A Place that Values Relationships

Join the Giving Day Gathering on Zoom!

Link to tune in: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82701164398?pwd=dzh1eXFnaGd0Z1FtNUpVZUlvN0lVdz09

Zoom Meeting Details
Meeting ID: 827 0116 4398
Passcode: 820766

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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

 

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Black Lives Matter

black lives matter

Penland’s mission is to “support individual and artistic growth through creative practice and discovery.” So we are a craft school, yes, but we are also advocates—for learning, for transformation, for supportive and generous community. And right now, that means we are advocates for the urgent changes that need to take place across this country. Black lives matter. Black joy and freedom and creative expression matter. Black grief and protests and injustices matter.

It’s difficult to support growth and creativity in a society where some people are unsafe, unequal, unvalued. And it’s hard to learn and share if we are not listening to all the voices that need to be heard.

This is a reminder to ourselves: There is so much work to do, and WE are the ones who have to do it.

This is a pledge to all of you: We will listen and learn and support and amplify and implement and question and use our resources to foster justice and equity in our community. We know that we still have work to do when it comes to issues of race, equity, and inclusion.

And this is an invitation: This work is not something that we can delegate, or finish, or brush off. It takes us all. Please, join in.