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This year’s Penland Community Open House was another big success! Over 700 people from the Penland community came up to try their hand at a new craft. Artists young and old alike were busy forging in the iron studio, flameworking beads in the glass shop, making colorful portraits in the photo studio, creating wooden whistles, and lots more. We’re grateful to all volunteers for helping us to share this fun day with our community, and to all the visitors who join us with such enthusiasm.
Christopher Davenport is a storyteller. His stories are personal and complex, weaving together ecology, people, place, and lived experience:
“The place and people I grew up with in rural northeastern North Carolina through the lens of time in 7 poems and 7 photographs.”
“A meditation of places beautiful, able, and unable—Utah’s Wasatch Range and Iowa Corn Fields—from 30,000 feet and memory.”
“Acceptance and resignation as contemporary ecological narratives of extinction.”
“Of place, wilderness, what we see, what we collect, and what we keep.”
“A look beyond experience. Photographs from infrared cameras placed on family property in Washington County, North Carolina.”
Christopher tells his stories through text and images strung together into artists’ books. When he describes what drew him to the book format, he explains, “I’ve worked with film, video, photography, and other mediums, but none of them could fully touch on the total idea or experience I was trying to relate to other people. Books just seemed to fit that.”
Christopher’s books work in layers to communicate that complete experience. Take Ease out of your skin, Ease out of your ways, Ease out of your mind, a book he made last year while spending time at and around Penland: Christopher describes the book as “an ecological action and visual poem to intersecting place, commitment, and shared space.” Many of its pages are dedicated to a series of cyanotypes of a young male deer that Christopher took while observing from the grass nearby. But the book’s story is much fuller than that, and each of its elements contributes in some way. The handmade abaca spine and reclaimed poplar case speak of human ingenuity as well as our dependence on the natural world. The cotton cover made from a feed sack from nearby Bakersville, NC details a connection to place, while pages bound in from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac locate this moment within the greater narrative of human and natural history. Even the beeswax used to finish the book—harvested from Penland’s own beehive—adds a layer of meaning.
As the instructor for our Spring 2016 concentration Hand in Hand: Books, Paper, and Print from the Top, Christopher will spend eight weeks taking his students through the many details that, together, contribute meaning to an artist’s book. From papermaking and binding to strategies for building type, image, and ideas into a narrative, the class will be in-depth process and experimentation at its best.
Hand in Hand: Books, Paper, and Print from the Top
Christopher Davenport — This workshop is about making books—with our hands, our tools, our paper, and our ideas. We’ll cover gathering and preparing fibers; constructing molds, deckles, and tools; drying; surface treatment; finishes; Western and Eastern binding and printing techniques; and conceptual considerations of the book, book design, visual narratives, and generating content. We’ll divide our time between the paper and book studios with a week or two spent printing in the letterpress studio as we gain skills, explore possibilities, make essential binding and papermaking tools, and make books. All levels. Code S00B
Studio artist and teacher at University of Alabama; other teaching: Robert C. Williams Museum of Paper Making (Atlanta), Kennesaw State University (PA); Alabama Arts Council Arts in Education Residency; collections: Wesleyan University (CT), School of the Art Institute of Chicago; his Pocket Knife Press books are represented by Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.
The annual October Core Show is a much-anticipated highlight of fall at Penland, and this year was no exception. Our nine core fellows came together to put on a stunning show of pieces from their workshops across the Penland studios. Titled Personal Effects, the show featured furniture, prints, photographs, weaving, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, and much more. It was a great opportunity to see the cumulative talent of this group of young artists, and also to show our appreciation for these people who do so much at the very heart of the Penland community.
Quick sketches and idea development, stencils and 3D sculpture, oversized letterpress posters and archival photo prints: paper can play an integral role in each. It is one of the most fundamental materials we use here at Penland. But how many people have taken the leap from using paper to create art to making paper as art?
Ann Marie Kennedy is certainly in that second group. Her handmade papers are delicate and speak of place, combining the immediacy of mixed media with the nostalgia of a photograph. She uses natural materials like seeds and leaves—often combined with textiles or clothing—to paint pictures of her landscapes not on paper, but within it. From October 4-10 this fall, her landscape will be Penland as she shares her craft with students. Space is still available to take part in the workshop and learn the art of papermaking for yourself. Register here.
Paper & Place
Ann Marie Kennedy – Students in this workshop will create art made from paper pulp, incorporating natural materials that will become part of the content of their work. Linen, flax, and abaca pulps will provide a neutral palette for mineral colors, natural dyes, and plant and seed textures. As students gain proficiency in making sheets of paper, engaging with the rich natural environment of Penland will allow them to create works that reflect the colors, shapes, and textures of the changing seasons. We’ll cover sheet forming, using a deckle box, processing plants for paper making, wet collage, and creating simple sculptural forms. All levels. Code F01PM
Ann Marie Kennedy is on the faculty at Wake Technical Community College. She has been a resident at Penland, the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, and the Headlands Center for the Arts (CA) and has received a North Carolina Arts Council fellowship. Her exhibitions include the Cantor Art Gallery at Holy Cross College (MA), the Visual Art Exchange (NC), and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
When Ann Marie describes her work, she explains, “I combine natural and domestic elements to create narratives about connections to the landscape. These pieces are often a direct response to place, incorporating materials gathered directly from site.” And that’s good news for her students this fall, since Penland in October presents a pretty inspiring landscape. Come immortalize it in paper and take a little piece of Penland home with you.
Although Elizabeth Aralia has been an artist most of her life, she didn’t start coming to Penland until she was fifty: the year her son turned ten. “I came in 1998 for a class with Nick Cave and it was transformative,” she said. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to come back here every year.’ And so far I have.” Elizabeth and her husband, photographer Nick Graetz, had moved to North Carolina about ten years before that, and Elizabeth says that she heard about Penland “in the air.”
Born in Detroit, she got an English degree at Indiana University and then went on to study art at the College of Creative Studies at the University of Santa Barbara in California. “It was a fascinating place,” she said. “The teachers there were all artists, and they just taught whatever they wanted. There was no set curriculum.” After finishing that program, she headed for New York. “I ran out of money near my mother’s house in Indiana, so I stayed there. I got this grant from the NEA where they paid you to do your art and to work with kids in the schools. During that time, I met and married my husband, and eventually we settled in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.”
Elizabeth works in textiles, painting, assemblage, and collage. One of her best-known projects is a tarot deck created through carefully-constructed collage. “I’ve been doing collage since 1978,” she said. “I don’t do it using a computer. I like to use things that there’s only one of; it’s more of a commitment.” Recent Penland workshops have reignited her interest in painting and introduced her to encaustic, which she has been integrating into her work.
In addition to her years of taking Penland workshops, Elizabeth and Nick have been generous annual supporters of the school, and they have recently created a scholarship in honor of Elizabeth’s late sister, Lynn Kerr Azzam. “She’s my half sister and we wouldn’t have known her except for the Internet. We only met her two years ago. We were together a few times and then she suddenly died. I didn’t know her well, but I felt very close to her. I wanted to do something for Penland in her name.”
“My husband and I give to a lot of things,” she continued. “We pick things that are close to our hearts, and Penland is at the top of my list. I want to give people the help I didn’t get when I was struggling financially and needed support as an artist. I imagine what it would have been like if someone had given me time at Penland back then.”
“Penland is magnetic and people who have the right metal get stuck.” Elizabeth said. “It draws me back every year. When the catalog comes, I get excited, and when I first drive in, I just think, ‘There it is.’” –Robin Dreyer
Former core fellow and incoming resident artist Andrew Hayes has an exhibition opening tonight at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, California. The catalog is available online, and is accompanied by an essay written by Penland’s own far-flung correspondent, Wes Stitt. “Andrew Hayes’s sculptures embody a tactile exploration of scale, a push-and-pull between the immense and intimate,” writes Wes. You can explore Andrew’s work and read the rest of Wes’s introductory essay online:
And if you happen to be in northern California, the exhibition opens tonight at 6:00 pm, and runs until March 2.
Andrew’s altered book structures have also garnered the attention of British bibliophile Robert Bolick. He interviews Andrew and explores his work in-depth over on his blog, Books On Books.
The interview begins with a premise: Andrew picks a book from the middle of his own shelf and then opens it to the middle. Bolick explains what happens next: “[the artist] tells me the author, title and page number, and so the interview begins about the experience and how it might relate to the artist’s work.” Andrew picks from a collection of poems by e.e. cummings, leading Bolick into a lively examination of Andrew’s forms and titles, using cummings as a spark.
We stopped by the drawing and painting studio recently where core fellow Angela Eastman has set up winter operations. She showed us this span of foliage she was assembling–a shaped wire armature with painted tar paper cuts affixed (see above). The piece is Angela’s first private commission, made for a Brevard family’s home.
Angela walked us through the process of creating the piece, opening her sketchbook to drawings she made at the site. “The spear pattern on the wire is a continuation of patterns I found outside of the house,” she said.
As we looked back up at the piece, we saw the sketches translated into three dimensions–a challenging fluidity captured. We talked about how the installation would go. Angela smiled and recounted carrying one of her wing-like wire pieces up a hill on her back, and how it jived with an ongoing thought she has: try some paper-form costumes for dancers and pieces for the stage.
After looking at the commissioned piece, Angela handed us one of the metal cups stuffed with black tar-paper cuts left over from the process–she will use them for something–and continue her exploration of pattern, line, and form. She expressed a desire to use all materials at hand as well as employ greener resources. Next in Angela’s sights? Chasing a balance between making smaller, functional work and larger pieces: floor-length paper-cuts, jewelry and neckpieces, ephemeral land-based sculpture.
But our eyes were drawn back to the world of small things in Angela’s work space. This table, which speaks to one artist’s close attention to visual rhythms and disturbances in nature:
To view an image of the finished private commission by Angela Eastman (seen above), visit: angelaeastman.com
Photographs by Robin Dreyer, writing by Elaine Bleakney