Spring and fall are intense times at Penland. Students and instructors spend eight full weeks here, fully immersed in deep creative exploration in their studios. For many, these concentrations can be rigorous and sleep-depriving, but also enlightening, recharging, and—ultimately—transformative.
Lauren Faulkenberry, who taught the spring concentration “Letterpress Books: Guts to Glory,” shared her thoughts in her blog about the “wild ride” that was eight weeks at Penland:
“To sum up: I had fantastic students. They made amazing things. We had a slew of letterpress adventures in the form of tiny books, broadsides, and ephemera that ran the gamut from poignant to wickedly funny and downright dirty. There was pressure printing, block carving, impromptu screen printing, and enough experimentation to warrant calling the studio a laboratory. Art. Science. Madness. Delight.”
Lauren also describes one of the primary challenges of Penland concentrations: that constant tug-of-war between intense creative work and the rest needed to refuel our creative engines:
“It’s not easy teaching every day for eight weeks, even in a place that feels like paradise. I was often just too tired to work on my own projects after dinner each night, but it was hard to make myself leave the studio. There’s something about being surrounded by creative people in a flurry of breakthroughs and troubleshooting that makes it hard to walk away.”
Now that those eight weeks are over, Lauren reflected on what she took away from her eight weeks here at Penland. As many people do, she found it was much more than simply new techniques or a piece of work to be proud of:
“After a long cold winter, my students and my new friends breathed some life back into me. I won’t lie—it was hard leaving there and coming back to the ‘real world’… But I’ve got a notebook full of ideas and a high-five poster that will remind me to keep doing that thing I love, and that path will most certainly cross the ones of all those great folks on the mountain that reminded me of why we do these things that keep calling us to do them.”
To read more about the moments that really stuck out in her eight-week class, see Lauren’s complete blog post here.