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.
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.
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!
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.
During our first summer session, sculptor and paper wizard Imin Yeh taught a beautiful workshop on designing and building forms from sheets of paper, with an emphasis on representing familiar objects. During her stay at Penland, Imin quietly placed several of her astonishing trompe l’oeil pieces in places where only a few people were likely to notice them.
This phone jack, outlet, and charger were on a wall in the paper studio, and were hard to spot even when looking for them. Yes, these are made entirely from cut and folded paper. The little balls above and below each piece are the heads of the push pins that are holding them in place. These pieces are part of an ongoing series called “Paper Power.”
We don’t know if anyone tried to plug anything into them.
If you are beginning to emerge from the past fourteen months looking for an extended time of creative engagement, we are happy to suggest Penland’s fall Concentration, which is a six-week session running October 3 – November 12 with workshops in clay, glass, steel sculpture, paper making, jewelry, shoe making, and wood. Along with learning and community, you will be treated to the transformation of the deciduous trees often referred to, prosaically, as “fall colors.” Here in the mountains, this annual exhibition stretches up the inclines to give you an exceptional view of its quilt-like patterns. Which is to say, it’s nice here in the fall.
Participation in Penland fall workshops will require proof of vaccination, and in exchange for this, you will enjoy pre-pandemic operating procedures. Shared housing will be available, we’ll gather inside for meals and slideshows, no masks required.
Clay: Low-Fire is Cooler with Ben Carter
Explore the rich history of low-fire ceramics with the goal of integrating surface design with handbuilt and wheelthrown pottery.
Glass: Illumination Projects in Glass with Jeremy Bert and Jen Elek
While practicing the foundations of glassblowing, create glass sculpture and then incorporate neon, LED, incandescent, and candle light.
Iron: Steel Sculpture: Set in Motion with Shawn HibmaCronan
Make sculptures that move, evolve, and interact with the environment while learning numerous steel fabrication and assembly techniques.
Papermaking: Paper Through Time with Radha Pandey
Trace the history and geographical spread of papermaking by learning techniques from Nepal, Polynesia, Korea, Japan, India and Europe.
Metals: Foundations in Form and Color with Laura Wood
Learn techniques that will help you develop a wide range of sculptural jewelry components, and then bring them together as brooches, earrings, pendants, or other forms.
Textiles: Blue Suede and Beyond: Introduction to Lasted Footwear with Amara Hark-Weber
Design and build your own handmade shoes using four different construction techniques and many kinds of leather.
Stay tuned: one-week fall workshops in books, clay, drawing, collage, stained glass, blacksmithing, jewelry, photography, printmaking, and musical instruments will be posted on July 9.
We normally kick off spring at Penlandwith an open house that brings 500-600 visitors to campus for hands-on activities in our studios. We couldn’t do that this year, but we hated to let the spring go by without offering some creative fun to the community.
So we arranged for five local makers to demonstrate activities that can be done at home with easily available materials, and we turned those demonstrations into step-by-step videos. We posted these during the month of March, and they will be available indefinitely, not just for our local community, but for anyone with an internet connection. All of these activities are suitable for children–with varying degrees of supervision needed.