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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.

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A Beautiful Gift to Our Community

metalsmiths cat bates and mary lynn in the Penland metals studio
Instructor Cat Bates with student Mary Lynn in the Penland metals studio. Cat is one of the 116 artists who were scheduled to teach Penland workshops this summer.

We are thrilled to announce that Penland has been included in a remarkable gift made to five of the nation’s leading craft schools to provide honorariums to the teaching artists whose workshops were cancelled in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Totaling nearly $1 million, the gift has been made by an anonymous donor to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (TN), Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (ME), Peters Valley School of Craft (NJ), Pilchuck Glass School (WA), and Penland. Over 550 artists, across the country and internationally, will benefit from this support in recognition of the time they have spent preparing and planning their workshops and their ongoing commitment to craft education. The schools are not retaining any part of the gift; it will all go to our instructors. In Penland’s case, the honorariums will include spring and summer instructors, movement instructors, and Kids Camp instructors.

Since 2012 these five schools have worked together as a consortium to promote craft education on a national level. In recent months we have continued to support each other in new ways: thinking together about how to respond to the pandemic and learning from each other as we move through difficult times. This ongoing collaboration created an opportunity to advocate for the teaching artists who are central to our mission, and we are profoundly grateful for this unprecedented support to our community. This gift is truly an act of transformational philanthropy.

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Photo(s) of the Week: Penland, in Repose

Hello World: we posted this earlier and the e-mail version didn’t work right. We have reformatted, so if you are seeing this in e-mail, it should be better this time. We hope.

Yellow flowers and dogwood blooms.

We confess that we’ve let some weeks go by since the last Photo of the Week. It’s been a weird time. The studios are closed down, people are working from home, the campus is almost deserted. Nevertheless, spring continues unabated, and there are things to see. Here’s a little selection from a recent walk-through.

 

Painted ceramic tile in the Penland kiln shed.

Here’s a bit of art, almost hidden on a shelf in the clay studio kiln shed.

 

A glass flag outside the Penland glass studio.

The glass flag still flies optimistically.

 

Tulips in bloom at Penland.

Tulips gonna bloom!

 

A view into the Penland book studio.

A slightly perplexing view of/through a book studio window.

 

A basketball on a shelf at the wood studio.

The wood studio basketball will be waiting for you.

 

A cutout plywood creature in front of the Northlight building.

They would like some company.

 

An empty volleyball court at Penland

Someday the games will resume.