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Photo(s) of the Week: Packet Mania!

Early this week, Penland teamed up with our friends at Toe River Arts and an all-star crew of volunteers to get a second round of art packets out to students and families in our community. Much like our first round of packets, the goal was to provide inspiration and materials for creative activities that can be done at home by a range of age groups. All told, the Packet Mania team made a total of 590 art packets, the majority of which have been delivered to the Mitchell County Schools Central Warehouse to go out with their local food pickups on May 22.

Penland’s community collaborations manager Stacey Lane described these packets as “much more ambitious” than the first round. They contained a range of drawing supplies and papers, as well as tape, glue, scissors, origami paper, book-making materials, embroidery floss and fabric, needles, and even a small cardboard loom! Each packet also included a fun coloring sheet drawn by Mitchell High student Evelyn Kline and detailed instructions and suggestions for art activities and prompts using the materials. (Want to try them for yourself? Take a look here!)

Of course, a project like this is a big team effort, and we sure couldn’t have done it without the many people who contributed their time, energy, and talents. A big thank you goes out to:

  • Lisa Rose, Meg Peterson, and Stacey Lane, who coordinated the project through Penland’s community collaborations program
  • Mitchell County art teachers Melisa Cadell, Olivia Ellis, Leslie Dickerson, and Marisa Westall, who helped plan and provide content
  • Subs with SuitCASEs teaching artists Taylor Styles, Alena Applerose, and Sherry Lovett, who created lessons for the packets
  • Toe River Arts outreach coordinator Melanie Finlayson, who helped plan and coordinate this project and provided stickers and envelopes for the packets
  • Toe River Arts staff Debra Carpenter, JoAnn Townsend, and Tracy Maisch, who helped assemble packet materials
  • Kristie Autrey of Mitchell County Schools, who acted as liaison for the project
  • Cathy Adelman, Annie Evelyn, Kathie Sigler, and Sam Reynolds, who volunteered to prepare each packet’s pamphlet book materials
  • Penland core fellows Erica Schuetz, Mitsu Shimabukuro, and Scott Vander Veen, who cut burlap for the embroidery project
  • Mitchell High student Evelyn Kline, who created a special coloring sheet to include in each packet
  • Local student Lillian Kline, who helped with the shadow drawing project
  • The wonderful volunteers who helped with packet assembly, including Erica Schuetz, Michael Kline, Evelyn Kline, and Alena Applerose
  • And the generous donors who contributed funds to help make this project a reality!

We feel really lucky to be part of such a warm and generous community, and we can’t wait to see what creative ideas spring from these effort! We hope to share some of them with you in the coming weeks.

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Art at School, Art at Home

Meg Peterson making art supply packets

Penland’s Community Collaborations Program is dedicated to bringing art opportunities to students and neighbors in our local community. Sometimes, this work takes place on campus through our summer kids camps and events like our Community Open House. But more often, it happens in local classrooms thanks to longstanding partnerships with our Mitchell County schools. And now that our local schools are closed and a stay at home order has been issued in North Carolina, our Community Collaborations staff have pivoted their work toward new approaches that can help bring art opportunities right to our neighbors’ homes.

One of these efforts is an adaptation of Penland’s Teaching Artist Initiative. For decades, Penland’s Meg Peterson (pictured above) has been working with local students and teachers to create involved handmade journals that weave art into classroom studies of science, history, writing, and more. It’s hands-on, material-intensive work that encourages individual exploration and discovery. And now, Meg hopes, it’s something that her 3rd and 4th grade students can continue working on at home. This week, Meg has been busy creating 166 packets for them that include materials and prompts that mesh with the science curriculum in their classrooms—investigations of soil and landforms in one school, and explorations of body systems and nature observation in the other. “Students at Gouge Elementary are getting a whole kit to make natural earth paints,” Meg explains. The kits include gesso board, instructions, information on prehistoric cave painting and aboriginal earth painting, and a sample of a prevalent local rock. “The rock easily grinds to powder,” Meg says. “Then students can turn that powder into the most beautiful red-orange pigment.”

Stacey Lane putting together art supply packets

A second initiative is tied to the food distribution service recently established by Mitchell County Schools. The service has been delivering an incredible 1000 meals per day to families in our area, and it will now be delivering art materials, too! Penland staff members Stacey Lane (above) and Lisa Rose teamed up with local art teachers Leslie Dickerson, Melisa Cadell, and Olivia Ellis, as well as some of Penland’s Subs with Suitcases teaching artists, to create a set of prompts that can engage students and their family members of all ages. “Find an object from outdoors in nature…take a close-up look at the object and draw only the part your eyes have zoomed in on,” suggests one prompt. “Challenge yourself: Draw a glass of water with or without ice,” suggests another. Stacey, Lisa, and Penland core fellows Mitsu Shimabukuro, Erica Schuetz, and Mo Nuñez put in long hours this week to package the prompts together with materials such as colored pencils, a sharpener, paintbrushes, paper scraps, and book board. All told, they created 434 art packets that will go out to Mitchell County families this week.

This is certainly a difficult time for communities across the country, and our rural corner of North Carolina is no different. We hope that these efforts will bring a bit of creativity and fun to the next few weeks as we all try to adapt to the difficulties and uncertainties of this new normal.

For anyone else out there who would like some fun art ideas, you can find the prompts here: Art at Home Activities.