The new exhibition at the Penland Gallery has stories to tell. Titled “Personal | Universal: Narrative Work in Craft,” the show includes pieces by eleven artists working in a variety of media who have created images or objects that hint at a story of some kind. The exhibition runs through July 15 with an opening reception on Saturday, June 2 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM.
In a sense, this exhibition is posing a question: how much does it take to make a story? These pieces are primarily visual, they don’t have sequences like a comic book, and most of them do not contain text. Yet they are filled with references and possibilities that suggest something that may have happened or may be about to happen; they may nudge the viewer toward a memory or experience of their own. Gallery director Kathryn Gremley says, “In this work, the artist provides the narrative genesis, and the viewer completes the story.”
The exhibition includes work in ceramic, glass, painting, collage, printmaking, metal, cast plaster, mixed-media, and found objects. Among these pieces is a work by sculptor David Chatt, titled “1982,” which is an iconic boom box cloaked in white beads that have been painstakingly stitched together to form a tight skin on the object. Corey Pemberton, who is currently a core fellowship student at Penland School, is represented by two wall pieces—each of them depicting a young woman sitting in a room—that combine painting with photographic images and collaged materials such as wood veneer and wallpaper. Shawn HibmaCronan has created a large wreath made entirely of used, leather work gloves that carry the patina of thousands of hours of labor. Each piece pulls the viewer into a different little world.
Running concurrently with this exhibition is a smaller show of ceramic work by Jenny Mendes. This show will include sculpture focused on animal and human forms and highly-decorated functional pieces. The Visitors Center Gallery has an ongoing display of objects that illuminate the history of Penland School, and the Lucy Morgan Gallery presents a selection of work by dozens of Penland-affiliated artists. On display outside the Penland Gallery are large sculptures in stone and steel by Daniel T. Beck, Hoss Haley, and Carl Peverall, plus a structure designed by artist Meredith Brickell that invites visitors to stop for a few minutes and observe the clouds.