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Sculpture and Sound at the Penland Gallery

view of the Penland Gallery filled with a display of modular cardboard sculptures
Installation view of Eleanor Annand’s sculptures in the new exhibition “Compose | Decompose”

“Compose | Decompose,” a new exhibition of mixed-media sculpture and sound installations, opens today at the Penland Gallery. The work has been created for this show by Penland resident artist Eleanor Annand and Make Noise, an Asheville collective that designs and builds electronic instruments and collaborates with musicians to create new worlds of sound. The exhibition runs through May 12 with an opening reception this Saturday, March 30 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM. The reception will include a musical performance by Make Noise artists Walker Farrell, Meg Mulhearn, and Jake Pugh.

Although the work has been carefully crafted, this exhibition is less about presenting collectable items and much more about creating a unique environment and experience for the viewer. The work Eleanor Annand made for the show is primarily constructed from laser-cut cardboard that has been intricately designed to allow her to hand-fold hundreds of pieces into different shapes; other pieces are made from cast paper elements. ‚ÄúThis work plays with disruption, entropy, light, and shadow,” Annand says. “Embracing a lack of permanence, I worked primarily with cardboard and recycled paper scraps to create modular units that can be arranged in a myriad of ways. Compose, decompose, compose, decompose, is a cycle in my process that mimics cycles of life and which I am exploring further in the impermanence of my materials.”

Top-down view of a Make Noise synthesizer
Make Noise, “Shared System.” Visitors are invited to listen to a piece of music recorded on this synthesizer and to experiment with their own compositions on others.

Accompanying Annand’s work are sound installations that use Make Noise synthesizers to create a series of aural environments that visitors can experience through the use of headphones. Modular synthesizers, not unlike Annand’s sculptures, are comprised of multiple units that can be combined and adjusted in countless ways to create different sounds. The sounds in these installations were created by various artists using instruments designed by Tony Rolando.

Explaining their intent, Make Noise has said, “We want our instruments to be an experience, one that will require us to change our trajectories and thereby impact the way we understand and imagine sound. Also, we think what we do is fun and we hope you like it, too.”

Running concurrently with this exhibition is a smaller Focus Gallery show of functional pottery by Joseph Pintz, whose work is characterized by sturdy, earthenware forms and richly layered surfaces. In addition, 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 steel sculptures by Daniel T. Beck and Hoss Haley, plus a structure designed by artist Meredith Brickell that invites visitors to stop for a few minutes and observe the clouds.

cast paper sculptures installed against a black wall in the Penland Gallery
Detail of “Sequence,” a cast paper piece by Eleanor Annand.