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Welcome, New Core Fellows!


We’re excited to announce and welcome our five newest Penland Core Fellows—Kimberly Jo, Brandon Lopez, Nicholas McDonald, Grace Anne Odom, and Amal Tamari. They will join returning fellows Lisa Nguyen, Celia Shaheen, and Lily Wilkins. For one or two years, they will share a house, take classes, expand their practices, and help run the school. We are so excited to welcome them to our community. Meet the new core!

Kimberly Jo is a cross-disciplinary artist working primarily in printmaking, ceramics, and textiles. They received a BFA in printmaking and enjoyed a post-baccalaureate position in ceramics at the Hartford Art School. In addition to pursuing arts education, Kimberly has worked on small-scale farms across northwestern Connecticut. Their dual passions are at the heart of their practice, which draws parallels between different materials and honors the ways in which they diverge.


Brandon Lopez is a Mexican-American artist creating functional and sculptural work with glass. He first began working with glass at Penland in 2013. He then attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia where he received a BFA in glass. Brandon has assisted for individual artists as well as for workshops at Penland, Ox-Bow, and Pilchuck. His work combines traditional glassblowing techniques with the aesthetics of objects made by ancient civilizations to create sculpture and design objects. Brandon is currently living in Asheville, focusing on his studio practice and assisting area artists.



Nicholas McDonald received their BA in political science and art from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. Nicholas’s practice focuses on the power of process and the exploration of their complex identity as a black person, “with one foot in inescapable history and the other in the drive of [their] contemporary environment.” At Penland, they plan to continue to investigate ties between blackness, culture, and craft.

Grace Anne Odom is a metalsmith and photographer in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she works as a bench jeweler and maintains a studio practice. Before focusing on craft, she served her community through social work and earned a BA in psychology at Hendrix College. With the goal of making craft more accessible in her community, she is eager to strengthen and diversify her skills as a core fellow.


Amal Tamari is a recent graduate from Earlham College where she received a BA in studio arts with a focus on ceramics. Since completing her degree, she has been studying at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a post-baccalaureate student. Amal apprenticed for ceramicists Kelsie Rudolph and Sunshine Cobb in Helena, Montana. Amal is excited to explore different mediums that will help to develop her artistic voice.

Selection Panel

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to apply. Penland received 130+ applications to the core fellowship this year. The selection process was thoughtfully overseen by the following panel, in conjunction with Penland staff.

(Left to right): Ben Blount, studio artist, Mellanee Goodman, grant program manager at Center for Craft, Critz Campbell, professor at Mississippi State University, Althea Murphy-Price, professor at University of Tennessee

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Penland School on the Artsville Podcast

Artsville is a new podcast series that highlights contemporary art and craft from Asheville (a.k.a. Artsville) and the surrounding area. We’re honored that the first episode is all about Penland School of Craft. Podcast host Scott Power hosts a lively conversation with Penland’s director Mia Hall and communications manager Robin Dreyer. 

In just under an hour, they cover a lot of ground, including information about Penland’s workshops, the importance of the setting, how Mia sees the school progressing over the next few years, the gallery and visitors center, and even a few thoughts on the difference between art and craft (and whether there really is one). 

Artsville released its first six episodes at the same time. The other five episodes cover some of Asheville’s greatest hits: The Center for Craft, Momentum Gallery, The Village Potters, Blue Spiral I Gallery, Black Mountain College, and Grovewood Village and Gallery. 

The podcast is a co-production of Sand Hill Artists Collective (Asheville) and Crewest Studio (Los Angeles). 

You can download all of the episodes wherever you get podcasts, or you can listen on the Artsville website. 

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The Kent McLaughlin Scholarship for Working Potters

Kent McLaughlin

First: A reminder that the application deadline for summer scholarships is February 17. Details are here.

Second: Penland School is thrilled to announce the Kent McLaughlin Scholarship for Working Potters.

Kent McLaughlin was a wonderful potter, neighbor, human, and friend of the school. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2021. Kent had a vision for a Penland scholarship that would meet the needs of studio potters who make their living selling their work, and in five short months, with contributions from 117 donors, Kent’s friends and family have created a $100,000 endowment to fund this scholarship in perpetuity, The first scholarship will be awarded this summer.

The scholarship will cover the full cost of a Penland summer workshop—in any studio—and will grant a stipend of $1,000 per week to offset the artist’s time away from their studio production. The scholarship does not have a work requirement. To be eligible, applicants must have had a full-time studio practice for at least one year and will need to provide a résumé that demonstrates that they have been making their living solely by selling their work. They will also be asked to provide five images of their work.

In announcing the successful fundraising for the scholarship, Kent’s wife and studio mate, Suze Lindsay, said, “I am unable to find the words to say how much this means to me personally and to our family and community as we honor Kent’s legacy as a working potter and workshop instructor. Penland School is near and dear to our hearts. Kent and I both trained there early in our careers and found the experience an invaluable gift.”

Please share this information with anyone who might benefit from the opportunity.

General summer scholarship information and the link to the application form can be found here.  

Here’s how to apply for the Kent McLaughlin scholarship.

  • Open the scholarship application form in Slideroom.
  • Fill out the first two pages, which are required for all applications.
  • If you would also like to be considered for non-merit scholarships, fill out page three.
  • Go to page four, answer Question 1, and upload five images of your work.
  • Click the button under Question 5. This will open a number of secondary questions.
  • Check Box 5.7, which applies only to this scholarship.
  • If you would also like to be considered for other merit scholarships, check any other boxes that apply to you.
  • Submit your application by 11:59 ET on February 17.

About Kent McLaughlin

In the early 1990s, Kent (a.k.a. Chet, Chester) worked at Penland as services coordinator and then as facilities manager. In 1995, Kent and Suze bought a farmhouse in Bakersville, added a studio, and opened their doors as Fork Mountain Pottery in 1996.

Kent taught at Penland a number of times, sometimes by himself and sometimes with Suze. He also taught at Haystack, Anderson Ranch, Arrowmont, the Curaumilla Art Center in Chile, and the Jingdzhen Ceramic Institute in China. He helped start the Potters of the Roan, Spruce Pine Potters Market, and MICA Gallery.

Kent made functional pots in stoneware and porcelain. He described the look of work as “simple and quietly decorated surfaces made with a wax resist technique, layering glazes while using my own studio-made deer tail brushes.”

But most importantly, he was a funny, warm-hearted, positive person who always had time for other people and welcomed everyone into whatever he was doing. Any day that involved seeing him was a better day.


Kent McLaughlin memorial
In September 2021, many of Kent’s family and friends gathered at Penland for a beautiful celebration of his life.

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Featured Auction Artist: James Henkel

James Henkel first came to Penland in 1971 with a scholarship that, he says, made him “a photography student and a proud dishwasher.” Since then he has served as studio assistant, core student, resident artist, faculty, and neighbor. At Penland he met Debra Frasier, his wife of 37 years. In 1991 they bought a small cabin near the school where they began spending summers. And their daughter, Calla, now an artist working in Berlin, was a founding member of Penland Kid’s Camp. “That one act of generosity— a Penland scholarship in 1971—has nourished me artistically for fifty years,” Jim said.

“My work begins with finding and collecting objects. These curiosities are then used to generate pictures that touch on the relationship between our ideas about beauty, function, and the meaning of objects in our lives. With the choice of an object for a photograph, I am leaning into a sense of shared familiarity with the viewer, but changing the perspective by introducing the unexpected within the frame.”

Jim is professor emeritus at University of Minnesota and a long-time Penland instructor. He now lives between Asheville and his Penland house/studio.

Learn more about Jim and his work in the short video above.

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Clarence Morgan: Outstanding Artist Educator

As part of the 2021 Penland Benefit Auction, we will honor Clarence Morgan as this year’s Penland School of Craft Outstanding Artist Educator. Clarence’s fifty-year career as an artist has encompassed drawing, painting, printmaking, writing, and curatorial projects. His many works are rigorous explorations of line, color, pattern, and form that he describes as, “situated somewhere between figuration and abstraction.”

His work has appeared in over 200 one-person and group exhibitions nationally and internationally and can be found in the permanent collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art among others. He has received grants and fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Bush Foundation, Art Matters, Inc., the Minnesota State Arts Board, and a Southern Arts Federation/NEA Artist Fellowship.

Along with his extensive activity as an artist, he has been a teacher of art continuously since 1978, first at East Carolina University and then at the University of Minnesota where he chaired the art department for six years and is currently head of drawing and painting. He taught his first Penland workshop in 1989, and he has taught here a total of nine times, most recently in 2014. At Penland, he was invariably accompanied by his wife of 40 years, the artist Arlene Burke-Morgan (1950–2017), who seemed capable of making friends with everyone on campus.

“The best definition of a teacher” he said in a recent interview, “is not someone who puts information into an individual, but someone that has the capacity to draw the best out of someone. What is really good about them is already in them. A good teacher just brings that out. . . . If there’s a little spark, my job is to fan the spark, to turn it into a big flame, so they can get excited on their own.”

Please watch the video above to learn more about Clarence’s art work and teaching.

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Photo of the Week: Screenprinters

Student screenprinting in the Penland print studio

On the busy last day of Session Six, core fellow SaraBeth Post (left), instructor Asuka Ohsawa (assisting SaraBeth), student Victoria Cable (right), and their fellow workshop participants were all working like mad before their afternoon studio cleanup. We approve of running out the clock!

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Featured Auction Artist: Yoonmi Nam

Yoonmi Nam is a printmaker and a sculptor who was born in Seoul, Korea and is a featured artist in this year’s Penland Benefit Auction. Her first connection to Penland was being invited to contribute work to a Penland Gallery exhibition in 2009. She taught a drawing/painting workshop the following year. “I remember driving from Kansas and making my way up the final bit of a very narrow road,” she said. “It opened up to a meadow with a cluster of studio buildings in the distance. I remember chatting with people while waiting in line to get food. I remember that my workshop had both the youngest and the oldest participants that week. I remember going back into the studio at night to see several students chatting, laughing, and working together. I remember our class covering the entire wall with their works on the last day when all the workshops came together to display what everyone made.” 

She returned in 2016 as a student in a glass casting workshop taught by Jason Chakravarty. “At that time, I had just started to do some basic mold-making and casting using plaster, wax, and clay in my own studio. My background is in printmaking and painting, and I didn’t have a lot of experience with three-dimensional processes, but my studio practice had evolved. I began making sculptural forms that depicted disposable objects such as styrofoam containers made with porcelain and plastic grocery bags made with Gampi papers. I had an idea that I should make clear deli containers using glass. But how? It was May of that year, and I started to research glass casting workshops. There was a workshop that I was looking for at Penland scheduled for July! And there was one spot left! So that was the second time that I made it back to Penland. The two-week workshop was incredible, and it was such a treat to be a student again.” 

Yoonmi teaches at the University of Kansas. Her recently scheduled Penland printmaking workshop was cancelled because of the pandemic; we hope she will be back to teach in the near future. Check out the video above to learn more about Yoonmi and her work. 

Video by Elizabeth Stehling Snell.