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Crafting the Future

Shanti working on her forged gate in the Penland Iron Studio
Shanti Broom working in the Penland iron studio, summer 2019.

Across the country, there is a plethora of organizations doing incredible work to support underrepresented young people in the arts. In New Orleans, YAYA offers free after-school training to local teens in painting, glass, ceramics, mixed media art, and entrepreneurship. In Los Angeles, HOLA’s extensive visual arts programming connects hundreds of students in grades 1-12 with 115 free classes in twenty different art forms. In Newark, NJ, Glassroots provides glass and entrepreneurship programs to underserved youth and young adults in the area.

Similarly, there are incredible craft schools around the USA like Penland, Haystack, Arrowmont, and others that provide emerging and established artists with new skills, inspiration, and an engaged network of peers and mentors. Often times, workshops or residencies at these schools can be pivotal experiences for artists as they explore and establish their careers.

But between these influential youth programs and adult craft schools, a group of artists saw a gap: the many talented, inspired young people who never pursue careers in the arts. How can we continue to support promising young artists once they have aged out of youth art programs? they wondered. How can we better connect them to the incredible opportunities that craft schools offer? How can we enable more of them to thrive as professional artists?

To tackle these questions, they started Crafting the Future this spring, a fledgling collective of artists interested in addressing the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the craft world:

The fields of craft, art, and design in the United States do not reflect the full spectrum of people in our country. When groups of artists go unrepresented, an inaccurate and incomplete story is being told, sold, and preserved—and everyone loses.

At Crafting the Future, our goal is to increase representation in these disciplines so that we all can benefit from a richer, more diverse story… Working together and combining our resources, we support the careers of young, underrepresented artists by connecting them to opportunities that will help them thrive.

Tyrik at work on a self-portrait in the Penland Painting Studio
Tyrik Conaler in the Penland painting studio with an in-progress self-portrait behind him.

As a first step, Crafting the Future started a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to send one alum from YAYA in New Orleans to a summer session at Penland. The campaign quickly drew enough support that they doubled the goal to $8,000, which would cover the costs for two YAYA artists to travel to Penland for a workshop. Thanks to the help of 141 backers, they reached that goal within two weeks.

A few short months later, Tyrik Conaler and Shanti Broom, both young alums of the YAYA program, arrived at Penland for session 2. Tyrik enrolled in Michael Dixon’s oil painting workshop, where he fine tuned both the technical and conceptual aspects of painting through the lens of self-portraiture. At the end of the session, a collaboration between Tyrik and the instructor sparked a bidding war at Thursday night’s scholarship auction. Meanwhile, Shanti was learning to work at the forge and anvil in Shawn Lovell’s iron workshop. “I’ve never done any forging before,” Shanti told me, “But I chose this workshop because it’s something that you don’t see a lot of women doing.” Two weeks later, she had gained enough skill to translate her drawings for an art-deco-inspired gate into metal, and she was eager to keep going.

So is Crafting the Future. The organization plans to raise money to send more students to craft school workshops in summer 2020 based on the success of their 2019 pilot. “I can’t emphasize enough the changes we’ve seen in Tyrik since he’s been back from Penland. Shanti, too,” says Meg, YAYA’s executive director. “It’s particularly cool to provide opportunities like Crafting the Future to older artists because the younger kids really look up to them. We’re now offering special Saturday night studio hours for a select group of artists, building on Tyrik and Shanti’s enthusiasm about being able to work any time of day or night at Penland—it’s quickly becoming something that the younger artists are aspiring to be a part of. The ripple effect is incredible!”

As Crafting the Future explained in their first campaign, “One scholarship won’t change the face of the art world, but it just might change the course of a life. It’s the best way we know to kickstart the change we want to see in our community.” Eventually, as the organization becomes more established, they’d like to work with additional craft schools and provide opportunities like internships, mentorships, and college prep to young artists.

Here at Penland, we’ll be cheering them on the whole way. We’re incredibly proud to build our relationship with Crafting the Future and to welcome the energy and perspective that students like Tyrik and Shanti bring to our studios and our community. We hope that many of you take some time to learn more about the Crafting the Future mission and get involved. You can read about the Crafting the Future vision here and follow them on Instagram here.

Shanti, Tyrik, and four friends pose in front of the Penland knoll
Shanti (left) and Tyrik (2nd from left) with friends from their Penland session. Images via Angelique Scott

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Eight (Transformative) Weeks

Two women blowing glass in the Penland School of Craft hot shop

In a recent conversation with a student, she talked about her first time at Penland. “I was in a workshop in upper textiles. It was my introduction to screenprinting, and I was blown away,” she said. “Every time I walked up the stairs to the studio, I passed a poster that said ‘Penland changes lives.’ And every time I saw it, I smiled to myself like ‘Yeah, sure does.'”

It’s something we hear quite a lot, in fact: a workshop at Penland is a transformative experience that opens up new questions, new connections, and new paths.

A woman working at the anvil in the Penland School of Craft iron studio

Why not see for yourself? This March 8 – May 1, 2020 we’ll be offering seven different 8-week concentrations, each one an immersive dive into materials and techniques and ideas.

Clay: Parts Unknown with Jenny Mendes
Glass: Intentions & Inventions with Dan Mirer
Iron: Attention to Detail with Andy Dohner
Metals: Wunderkammer with Suzanne Pugh
Photo: Processing Process with Mercedes Jelinek
Letterpress: Print/Process/Production with Jamie Karolich
Textiles: Inside Out: Garment as Identity with Erika Diamond

Registration is open now, and scholarships are available for all spring concentrations. Scholarship applications must be submitted by November 28, 2019.

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24 Hours of Gratitude

six photos tagged with #WeMakePenland, including a couple group portaits, a woman working in letterpress, students drawing wood plans, and people outside under a tree at Penland

Now that the dust has settled from the whirlwind of love you all kicked up on October 2, we wanted to say one more THANK YOU. Our third annual Penland Giving Day was a success through and through, and that is 100% a testament to your generosity and commitment to Penland. We are so grateful.

For this year’s Giving Day, we challenged you all to make a gift and share your Penland story online. Our goal was to generate 325 gifts and a lot of enthusiasm in 24 hours. We sure beat that goal:

  • 379 gifts
  • Over 185 #WeMakePenland posts on Instagram
  • A total of $23,778 raised for Penland programs!

In fact, we reached our campaign goal just before 8:15 that evening. We were all gathered up in Northlight to enjoy staff slide presentations, and the Giving Day page was up on the projector. When the number tipped from 324 to 325, the entire room cheered. Wherever you were that evening, we hope you heard it.

Penland's kitchen crew standing with a sign that reads "We Make Penland Delicious!"

And, because the most special and gratifying and happy-tear-jerking part of Giving Day is always getting to read your own reflections on time at Penland, we thought we’d share a few. Here’s a taste of your funny, heartfelt, wonderful contributions. Check out #WeMakePenland to read many more. Really, they’re the best.

“Penland is about the people, the creative community of like-minded makers, who come together in this magical place and leave transformed by the experience.” – Sharon

“My most joyous times are when a group of people work in unison to do things far greater than an individual could. We do that often at Penland.” – Dave

“I’m pretty sure that if my soul goes anywhere when I die, it will make its final earthly pit stop in the Pines for a midnight cereal.” – Autumn

“It’s tough to put into words what this place means to me, but for simplicity’s sake, I consider Penland to be ‘Home’ to my creative spirit.” – Claire

“The effort, passion, and expertise that one puts into the creation of a work also pushes back on the person, and shapes them. This place recognizes and celebrates that.” – Joe

“If you haven’t heard someone say ‘Penland changed my life,’ you might not have met anyone who went to Penland.” – Suzanne

Three posts tagged #WeMakePenland, including a group photo, a woman drawing with her foot, and a guy posing at the photo booth

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Photo(s) of the Week: SC at Penland

South Carolina State and Claflin students flameworking with resident artist Kit Paulson

We were excited to host a group of students and faculty from South Carolina State University and Claflin University for a couple of days last week. The visit included studio and gallery tours, demos, discussions, and this great little workshop run by Penland glass resident Kit Paulson, who set up a dozen torches, prepped materials, and led the group through some introductory flameworking projects.

Thanks also to visiting artists Sharif Bey, Michael Dixon, and Ilasahai Prouty for being part of the event, and to Jeannine Marchand and David Clemons for opening their studios to the group.

Students flameworking glass at Penland

Penland resident artist Kit Paulson with student flameworking glass

 

Students and faculty from South Carolina State and Claflin plus guest artists at Penland

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Japanese Metalworking Techniques at the Penland Gallery

Over hundreds or thousands of years, cultures across the globe have developed their own ways of working with basic materials such as clay, fiber, and metal. This global nature of craft is brought to light in a new exhibition at the Penland Gallery, which presents a brilliant exploration of traditional Japanese metalworking as it is practiced today. The show, titled Tradition of Excellence: Japanese Techniques in Contemporary Metal Arts, runs through November 17.

Featuring work by twenty-two Japanese and seven American artists, the exhibition was curated by metalsmith Hiroko Yamada, a jeweler and teacher who divides her time between Wisconsin and Japan. All of the artists make work based in historical techniques and approaches: some of them adhere strictly to tradition, while others reinvent or reinterpret it through contemporary practice. Among the artists are three who have received the highest honor in being designated as Japanese Living Treasures. Also part of the exhibition are three artists who live at or near Penland: Marvin Jensen, a longtime Mitchell County resident and former Penland employee; Seth Gould, a recent Penland resident artist; and Andrew Meers, a current Penland resident artist.

Curator Hiroko Yamada has taught at Penland School regularly since 2005. Over the past five years, she has helped organize several exhibitions and workshops aimed at introducing Japanese metal work to Western audiences and metalsmiths. “My mission,” she says, “is to bring together artistic skills and knowledge that will help both Japanese and American artists grow in their work and achieve new levels of excellence.”

What is hard to convey about this show is the astonishing level of excellence displayed by this work—in technique, design, and sheer artistry. The exhibition includes vessels, jewelry, and small sculpture. All of the work could be called decorative, with each piece creating its own special kind of beauty. Although few people who see this exhibition will arrive familiar with terms such as shakudo, kinkeshi, or mokume-gane, it’s unlikely that anyone will leave unmoved by this display of the incredible work that can be made by artisans committed to the highest levels of craft.

Also currently on view at the Penland Gallery is a small show of glass work by Shane Fero and photographs by Deb Stoner. Around the building are outdoor sculptures by ceramic artist Catherine White and steel sculptors Daniel T. Beck and Hoss Haley and an interactive mixed-media installation by Jeff Goodman.

The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM and Sunday, Noon-5:00 PM; it is closed on Mondays.

Yoshio Ueno | Mokume-gane Kettle | 2018 | Copper, silver, shakudo, gold; mokume-gane, rokusho patina | 8.25 x 6.75 x 5.5 in

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#WeMakePenland Tomorrow, October 2!

#WeMakePenland – And we need you!

Penland’s 3rd annual Giving Day is tomorrow, October 2. It’s a 24-hour challenge to generate support for Penland’s studios, scholarships, staff, and more. If we can reach 325 donors by the end of the day, we’ll unlock a special $5,000 gift. That’s why we need your help!

Please join us tomorrow to make this day a success:

  • Give what you can – Even $5 makes a difference! Head directly to our Giving Day website to make your gift and watch this year’s video by our own clay studio coordinator Susan Feagin.
  • Share your story – Post your Penland photos and memories to social media with #WeMakePenland. The more voices, the better!
  • Tell your friends and family – Ask them to join you in supporting this special place.

Together, #WeMakePenland the strong, vibrant, and creative community that it is. Thank you for being such a vital part of it.

See you online on October 2!

P.S. If you’d rather give early, you can make your gift now and have it count toward our Giving Day goal.

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Auction Weekend 2019

This August 9 and 10 we celebrated Penland’s 34th Annual Benefit Auction with great art, great views, great fun—and so many of you! Auction weekend is an important time for the Penland community to come together and support our creative programming. And whether that support is through bidding, contributing to our Fund-A-Need cause, donating art, or volunteering time, it all adds up to make a big difference. Thank you, all of you, for turning this weekend into such a success.

Here are a few numbers to paint a picture of the 2019 Penland Benefit Auction:

  • 434 auction guests on Friday and 458 guests on Saturday
  • More than 175 volunteers who helped with everything from washing dishes to arranging flowers to serving drinks
  • 216 pieces of original artwork in glass, clay, metals, and more donated by Penland artists
  • 3 featured artists: glassblower Nick Fruin, metalsmith Lola Brooks, and ceramic sculptor Kensuke Yamada
  • 1 Outstanding Artist Educator: the inimitable Bob Ebendorf!
  • 7 metalsmiths, all students of Bob Ebendorf’s, who created original cynosures to adorn every table under the tent
  • Over 500 mugs handmade by Nicki Strouss for Saturday morning’s Coffee at the Barns
  • 26 generous event sponsors
  • 16 Penland residents artists and core fellows who opened their studios to share their work
  • $472,980 raised for Penland!

And, because a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a short summary of the weekend’s events in photos. A more complete album of auction images can be found on our Facebook page.

The first sign of auction weekend: a big white tent springs up over the volleyball court.

 

Another sign: this incredible crew of volunteers on all corners of campus! There’s a lot to be done, and we couldn’t do it without these folks.

 

Kicking the weekend off: a Penland Gallery reception and artist talk with Hoss Haley, whose exhibition of large-scale steel sculpture is on view through September 15.

 

Honoring a legend: a gathering to recognize metalsmith, mentor, and friend Bob Ebendorf as Penland’s 2019 Outstanding Artist Educator.

 

Getting into the swing of it: silent auction and snacks and cocktails and photo booth fun up at Penland’s new Northlight building!

 

Under the tent: dinner and live bidding begin!

 

To end the evening: coffee, dessert, a preview of Saturday’s artwork, and a live jazz band!

 

Back for day two: Coffee in handmade mugs and a chance to visit the studios of Penland’s seven resident artists.

 

Moving on to more art: an open house hosted by Penland’s core fellows featuring work from their Penland workshops.

 

And now for the big event: 40 original pieces up for bidding under the tent!

 

That’s a wrap: big thanks to everyone who joined us this year and made our 34th auction such a special one! See you next year under the tent on August 7 and 8.