As many people know, Penland’s annual benefit auction has gone online this year, and it will conclude with a streaming live auction on August 8. This may sound simple, but to do it well, we’ve had to turn the Gorelick Social Hall into a makeshift TV studio. Figuring all this out is our IT manager and resident video tinkerer, Mark Boyd. The photo studio has some sweet lighting equipment, which was set up by studio coordinator Tom Condon. Needless to say, we’ve never done anything like this before, so we’ve been rehearsing. Hope you’ll tune in. Details about the livestream will be posted on the auction page closer to the event.
As part of our #PenlandEverywhere series, session 2 instructor Ben Blount sent us the following words and images on June 16. Ben was scheduled to teach “The Collaborative Printer,” a letterpress workshop focused on the community-building potential of letterpress printing. And, as much as we would have loved to have Ben and his expertise in our studio this summer, this story of print-based community building is the next best thing. Thank you, Ben, for sharing the power of craft and the written word!
The first things I started to print after the stay in place order were in response to being separated from people in a way that I’d never been before. The longer that we were isolated, the more I thought about ways to make a connection with people. I realized that the people that I passed on the street or in the grocery store aisles were no longer just strangers—they were people I relied on to keep their distance, wear their masks, and wash their hands. We were in community together and they were, in fact, my neighbors.
I printed 250 copies of this poster and passed them out to the neighbors in the block surrounding my studio and the neighbors on the street where I live—4 blocks up, on each side of the street. I included a note with each print introducing myself and the project. The note ended with “At times like these, it’s more apparent that we’re all intrinsically connected, and this print is an acknowledgment of that connection. Consider it a token of my regard, a faith in our perseverance, and a welcome to the neighborhood. Stay safe, and I’ll see you outside.”
Many of my neighbors placed the poster on their windows and doors. But what’s really been interesting to me is how in a matter of weeks, as our attention has turned from COVID to police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement, perhaps the print has another reading. As we approach the 21st day of protests in our streets, we have seen people across the spectrum in support of their Black friends, coworkers, neighbors, and fellow citizens. There is a lot of work to do to live up to our ideals. Enough work for every neighbor. I’m happy to be a part of a print community that has raised their voice during this time of change.
See more of Ben’s work:
Early this week, Penland teamed up with our friends at Toe River Arts and an all-star crew of volunteers to get a second round of art packets out to students and families in our community. Much like our first round of packets, the goal was to provide inspiration and materials for creative activities that can be done at home by a range of age groups. All told, the Packet Mania team made a total of 590 art packets, the majority of which have been delivered to the Mitchell County Schools Central Warehouse to go out with their local food pickups on May 22.
Penland’s community collaborations manager Stacey Lane described these packets as “much more ambitious” than the first round. They contained a range of drawing supplies and papers, as well as tape, glue, scissors, origami paper, book-making materials, embroidery floss and fabric, needles, and even a small cardboard loom! Each packet also included a fun coloring sheet drawn by Mitchell High student Evelyn Kline and detailed instructions and suggestions for art activities and prompts using the materials. (Want to try them for yourself? Take a look here!)
Of course, a project like this is a big team effort, and we sure couldn’t have done it without the many people who contributed their time, energy, and talents. A big thank you goes out to:
- Lisa Rose, Meg Peterson, and Stacey Lane, who coordinated the project through Penland’s community collaborations program
- Mitchell County art teachers Melisa Cadell, Olivia Ellis, Leslie Dickerson, and Marisa Westall, who helped plan and provide content
- Subs with SuitCASEs teaching artists Taylor Styles, Alena Applerose, and Sherry Lovett, who created lessons for the packets
- Toe River Arts outreach coordinator Melanie Finlayson, who helped plan and coordinate this project and provided stickers and envelopes for the packets
Toe River Arts staff Debra Carpenter, JoAnn Townsend, and Tracy Maisch, who helped assemble packet materials
- Kristie Autrey of Mitchell County Schools, who acted as liaison for the project
- Cathy Adelman, Annie Evelyn, Kathie Sigler, and Sam Reynolds, who volunteered to prepare each packet’s pamphlet book materials
- Penland core fellows Erica Schuetz, Mitsu Shimabukuro, and Scott Vander Veen, who cut burlap for the embroidery project
- Mitchell High student Evelyn Kline, who created a special coloring sheet to include in each packet
- Local student Lillian Kline, who helped with the shadow drawing project
- The wonderful volunteers who helped with packet assembly, including Erica Schuetz, Michael Kline, Evelyn Kline, and Alena Applerose
- And the generous donors who contributed funds to help make this project a reality!
We feel really lucky to be part of such a warm and generous community, and we can’t wait to see what creative ideas spring from these effort! We hope to share some of them with you in the coming weeks.
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.
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.
Here’s a bit of art, almost hidden on a shelf in the clay studio kiln shed.
The glass flag still flies optimistically.
Tulips gonna bloom!
A slightly perplexing view of/through a book studio window.
The wood studio basketball will be waiting for you.
They would like some company.
Someday the games will resume.
Among the many fine students who were part of our fall session was Hunter Bell, who was in the iron workshop. In addition to working with steel, Hunter can draw like mad, and he did several great chalkboards during the session, including this one outside the clay studio.
At the end of the session, he left this on the whiteboard outside the dining hall — a little tribute to the six fall workshops (clay, metals, iron, paper/printmaking, glass, textiles).
Penland’s studio coordinators are an incredible concentration of knowledge about the different media and processes we teach here. Between them they know, well, just about everything—and they’re learning more all the time!
Last week, the coordinators got together in the letterpress studio for a demo and hands-on workshop led by printmaking and letterpress coordinator Adam Leestma. The goal was for each coordinator to create new safety posters for their studios. And when you have all the tools and artistic skills to make them fancy, then why not? Below, coordinators Daniel Beck, Susan Feagin, Sarita Westrup, and Nick Fruin are carving linoleum blocks to add images to their posters.
Want to try letterpress out for yourself? We have lots of workshops for that!
What do you do when you want to finish your large, hand-forged utensils with a coat of enamel but they’re too big to fit in any of the enameling kilns? Build a sifting tool, grab a friend, and apply the powder directly to red-hot steel, of course!
The spirit of ingenuity and problem-solving is one thing we cherish about January in the Penland studios. Winter residents are free to go in whatever directions they need to bring their ideas to life. Rachel Kedinger’s enameling experiments (with a little help from fellow blacksmith Meghan Martin!) are just one great example.