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Jaime and Cristina in the Clay Studio

Puerto Rican artist Jaime Suarez paints on a large piece of paper with watery red clay while students watch

Visiting artists are part of every spring and fall concentration at Penland. They help enrich our sessions by bringing new perspectives, skills, and approaches to our studios and sharing their experience with our students. This spring, we’ve been doubly lucky to have two visiting artists, Jaime Suárez and Cristina Córdova. They spent this week working side by side in the studio, pushing clay in very different directions.

In addition to their public lectures at Northlight, both Jaime and Cristina opened up their processes to the community through an afternoon of demonstrations. Jaime walked us through two of his recent experiments with making marks in clay. In one, shown above, he applied a watery clay slip to a crumpled sheet of paper. As the slip pooled and dried, it captured the topography of the paper surface in layers of clay, creating the possibility for a two-dimensional print of a three-dimensional surface. In another process, shown below, Jaime demonstrated how he creates monoprints with just a clay slab and water, altering the image by varying the moisture levels and the impressions on the clay. Like the clay paintings, these prints captured the data of the surface using the inherent colors and qualities of his material.

Artist Jaime Suarez giving a demonstration to a group of students on how to monoprint with clay and water

Cristina, for her part, focused on clay’s incredible sculptural potential. She gave a demonstration of her process for sculpting the human head, starting with a flat slab of paper clay that she formed into a cylinder and then refined. Over the course of half an hour, we watched with awe as the cylinder first took on the rough shape of a human head through pushing and paddling, then developed a ridge at the brow, cavities at the eyes, and protrusions for the nose and lips. To build up the features further and add unique expressions, Cristina built onto them with smaller additions of clay. All the while, she explained the shapes she keeps in mind to guide her sculpting—the egg shape of the head, the teardrop shape formed by the side of the nostril, the three different planes of the lips.

Cristina Cordova sculpting a head from red paper clay while a ring of students looks on

Even though none of our current workshops deal directly with figurative sculpting or painting or making prints, there is a lot of inspiration to be drawn from these demonstrations. We hope all the students who attended will return to their benches, their wheels, and their torches with ideas about how to take advantage of the inherent qualities of their materials to move them in new directions. Thank you, Jaime and Cristina, for being here and sharing so generously!

Cristina Cordova refines the features on the side of the clay head she is sculpting

 

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Photo of the Week: Glazing Day

We’re in the final week of clay winter residencies, which means a flurry of glazing and firing and a lot of full tables. A quick visit to the upper clay studio yesterday revealed two very different approaches to surface decoration. Above, core fellow Eleanor Anderson goes big with color and pattern and waxes and underglaze. Below, winter resident Irvin Carsten keeps his cleanly angled forms a bit more muted.

If you’ll be around campus this Friday, February 16, stop by the clay studio at 5 PM for the final show and tell of ceramic work—this year’s residents have been prodigious!

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Summer 2018 Workshop Catalog

Cover image; woman adjusts table saw in woodworking studio

Here it is, the summer 2018 workshop catalog! We’re thrilled to share our lineup with you in anticipation of another summer packed with creativity, energy, new friendships, and new ideas. We’re offering 102 unique workshops led by 116 talented artist/instructors, including favorites like encaustic painting and steel sculpture and special classes like brushmaking and skin-on-frame canoe building. Most workshops are open to serious students of all levels (beginners included!), and all give you access to the slide nights, dance parties, movement classes, scholarship auctions, and more that make a Penland session so special.

This year, summer registration will open to all students on January 8 at 9 AM EST on a first-come, first-served basis; we will not be using a lottery system. Applications may be submitted online, by fax, by post, or in person.

Scholarships are available for every summer workshop, including full, partial, and work-study scholarships. Spaces will be held in each workshop for scholarship students. Scholarship applications are due by 11:59 PM EST on February 17.

We hope you find a few minutes over the holidays to pour over the Penland catalog and find the perfect workshop for you, wherever you are in your creative journey. Look out for full course descriptions on the website by the end of December, with printed catalogs to follow in early January.

 

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Contemporary Ceramics at the Penland Gallery

Ceramic work by Shalene Valenzuela, Jeremy R. Brooks, and Roberto Lugo.
Works from “Within the Margins.” From left to right: “Ironing Things Out: Various Notions” by Shalene Valenzuela, “(Altered) Young Man’s Fancy” by Jeremy R. Brooks, and “Basquiat and Celia Teapot” by Roberto Lugo.

 

The Penland Gallery presents Within the Margins: Contemporary Ceramics, an exhibition curated by Steven Young Lee, in the John and Robyn Horn Gallery. Seventeen artists are represented in the exhibition with mostly narrative ceramic sculpture in a wide range of forms and styles. The exhibition runs from May 30 through July 16 with a gallery talk at 3:30 PM on Saturday, June 3 and a reception to follow from 4:30 to 6:30 PM.

The group of artists is quite varied in terms of their cultural backgrounds and personal histories, and this is reflected in the content of the work. Shalene Valenzuela, for example, says of her bright-colored earthenware and porcelain sculptures: “My narratives explore topics ranging from fairytales, urban mythologies, consumer culture, societal expectations, etiquette, and coming-of-age issues.” Sculptor Sunkoo Yuh makes complex pieces that are often groupings of forms including plants, animals, fish, and human figures. He describes his process this way: “I draw images intuitively and spontaneously with ink and brush. I study my drawings and select a few to transform into three-dimensional clay sculptures. My work expresses my inner emotions, communications about life, and directly draws from mundane experiences.”

Curator Steven Young Lee is the resident artist director of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana. He has lectured extensively in North America and Asia including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. His work was recently featured as part of “Visions and Revisions: Renwick Invitational 2016” at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

In describing his intent for the exhibition, Lee said, “The exhibition includes artists who, while residing within one set of perceived margins or another, are working from within to expand or redefine those boundaries, ultimately shifting the lines of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, cultural identity, or material association. Each artist is articulating a world view, and the most important aspect of their work is the sincerity of their investigation and quality of their execution. The title, Within the Margins, recognizes that while boundaries do exist, the mere fact of their existence invites—if not demands—that they be confronted, challenged and reshaped.”

 

Three ceramic plates featuring the letters E, F, and G
E, F, and G plates by Holly Walker from “Abecedarium | Envisioned.”

 

Also on view, in the Focus Gallery, is a small-format exhibition of functional ceramics by Holly Walker. She specializes in handbuilt earthenware and approaches the surfaces of her pots as a painter, brushing colored slips over the clay surface and then layering them with multiple glazes. This exhibition is titled Abecedarium/Envisioned because it includes an installation of twenty-six plates whose designs are inspired by the letters of the alphabet. The gallery talk at 3:30 on Saturday, June 3 will include remarks from both Steven Young Lee and Holly Walker.

The Visitors Center Gallery has an ongoing display of objects that illuminate the history of Penland School, while the Lucy Morgan Gallery presents a selection of work by dozens of Penland-affiliated artists. On display outside the Penland Gallery is a monumental steel sculpture by Hoss Haley and two new stone installations by Carl Peverall.

The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM and Sunday, Noon-5:00 PM; it is closed on Mondays. For more information call 828-765-6211 or visit penland.org/gallery.

 

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Clay Goes Big

Nick Schwartz torching the top of a coil-built pot

The spring clay concentration has been busy preparing pieces for their first firing, and they haven’t been holding back on the scale or the drama. Here, instructor Nick Schwartz uses a torch to stiffen the most recent layer of clay on a sizeable pot he’s building. Below, two more large pots look on. They were collaborations between Nick and local potter Courtney Martin, whose signature geometric resist patterns you can see painted on both pieces.

And here, a fun and gratuitous flame close-up, just because:

closeup of a torch and wet clay pot

 

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Summer 2017 Workshop Catalog

Penland summer 2017 catalog cover with portraits of Penland students, instructors, staff, etc

We’re thrilled to present the Summer 2017 workshop catalog! It includes information about our ninety-seven unique summer workshops, including favorites like wood-fired pottery and letterpress and special offerings like bicycle building and leather inlay. Some workshops are for beginners, some are aimed at intermediate and advanced artists, most are open to students of all levels, and each is taught by knowledgeable artist-instructors. The front and back covers capture the range of our broad Penland community in a series of Penland portraits by resident artist Mercedes Jelinek. Read more about her photographs and all of this summer’s great offerings right here in the catalog.

 

Registration for summer workshops is open now, and everyone who registers by 5 PM on February 11 will be entered into the early registration lottery. Scholarships are available for all workshops. Apply for scholarships by February 17.

 

We are currently working on uploading full course information to our website. Look for it online by the end of December, with printed catalogs to follow in early January.

 

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Stories in Clay

Nan Smith, "Twenty Twelve," glazed and painted earthenware, glazed porcelain, concrete, sand, wood
Nan Smith, “Twenty Twelve,” glazed and painted earthenware, glazed porcelain, concrete, sand, wood

 

Sculpting a figure in clay is about far more than trying to recreate recognizable form in three dimensions. That’s why instructor Nan Smith chose Personality Plus as the name of her Penland workshop this November 6-12. “I want students to investigate what transforms figure sculpture into something dynamic and alive,” she explains. “What will make a bust look like it has a story?”

If there’s anyone who can help students answer those questions, it’s probably Nan. She’s had a long and successful career as a sculptor and installation artist. She’s taught ceramics at the University of Florida for over thirty years, and she’s led workshops at universities around the country and as far away as Israel. Her work has been featured in publications like Sculpture magazine and Ceramics Monthly. She has exhibited at dozens of venues like SOFA Chicago, the Red Lodge Clay Center, and the American Museum of Ceramic Art. Perhaps most importantly, “I really do love teaching people at all levels how to sculpt a figure, and I’ve been doing that a really long time,” she says.

 

Nan Smith, "Spill," glazed and painted earthenware, glazed porcelain, metal, rubber, wood
Nan Smith, “Spill,” glazed and painted earthenware, glazed porcelain, metal, rubber, wood

 

Personality Plus will be a hands-on, high-energy week of ceramic figure sculpting that uses the bust format and self portraiture to help students develop their perceptual and conceptual skills. It may be only a one-week class, but it certainly won’t stick to one technique. “We’re going to be building sculpture, but we’re also going to be making life casts and learning to take a mold from a piece,” Nan explains. “I wanted to give the course a twist and allow students to try using molds as another tool to develop perceptual skill.”

Personality Plus is a workshop for the curious beginner and for the experienced sculptor looking for new ideas. It’s a workshop for ceramic artists interested in new ways of working with clay. It’s a workshop for anyone interested in the details of the figure and how to bring them to life. Is it a workshop for you? Registration is open now.

 

Nan Smith, "Mercury" (detail), glazed and painted earthenware, glazed porcelain, photo montages on fabric, metal, wood
Nan Smith, “Mercury” (detail), glazed and painted earthenware, glazed porcelain, photo montages on fabric, metal, wood

 

Personality Plus

Nan Smith, November 6-12, 2016
Who are you? What causes presence in the sculpted human form? By investigating questions of identity in addition to studying anatomy within the bust format, students will create a life-scale self-portrait that reflects their inner personality and self-perception. Demonstrations will cover life-casting techniques, life modeling, photo-documentation, and rendering an expressive and anatomically believable human form. We’ll create solid-built busts over metal armatures. Students will leave with a life cast and a sculpted portrait bust in wet clay. All levels. Code F03CB

Professor at University of Florida; publications: The Figure in Clay, Sculpture, Ceramics: Art and Perception, Ceramics Monthly, CFile Weekly; collections: American Express (NY), Lamar Dodd Art Center (GA), Givat Haviva Art Center (Israel), World Ceramics Exposition Korea International Collection.

nansmith.com

REGISTER NOW FOR FALL WORKSHOPS