Over the past few weeks, we’ve been thrilled to hear a strong demand for more opportunities for Black artists and students of color at Penland.
This desire has already resulted in the addition of three new summer 2021 scholarships to our list of scholarships for people of color. They were funded by Penland’s staff, team of directors, and Board of Trustees, respectively. Our staff wanted to make these opportunities as accessible as possible, so each scholarship will cover 100% of tuition, room, and board and also include a stipend for travel and materials.
At the same time, we’ve heard from lots of you, our friends and students and instructors, about wanting to donate to a similar scholarship fund. We’re pleased now to give you that opportunity through the new Artists for Equity Scholarship Fund. The goal of this fund is to increase opportunities for artists of color who would otherwise not have access to Penland due to funding.
In a caring and generous community like ours, even small gifts compound to make a big impact. A single scholarship won’t change the face of the craft world, but it can absolutely open up new possibilities for an individual and start creating the momentum we need to reach a more equitable, inclusive community at Penland and beyond. Please join in with a gift and help bring new artists and new voices to our community!
As part of our #PenlandEverywhere series, session 2 instructor Ben Blount sent us the following words and images on June 16. Ben was scheduled to teach “The Collaborative Printer,” a letterpress workshop focused on the community-building potential of letterpress printing. And, as much as we would have loved to have Ben and his expertise in our studio this summer, this story of print-based community building is the next best thing. Thank you, Ben, for sharing the power of craft and the written word!
The first things I started to print after the stay in place order were in response to being separated from people in a way that I’d never been before. The longer that we were isolated, the more I thought about ways to make a connection with people. I realized that the people that I passed on the street or in the grocery store aisles were no longer just strangers—they were people I relied on to keep their distance, wear their masks, and wash their hands. We were in community together and they were, in fact, my neighbors.
I printed 250 copies of this poster and passed them out to the neighbors in the block surrounding my studio and the neighbors on the street where I live—4 blocks up, on each side of the street. I included a note with each print introducing myself and the project. The note ended with “At times like these, it’s more apparent that we’re all intrinsically connected, and this print is an acknowledgment of that connection. Consider it a token of my regard, a faith in our perseverance, and a welcome to the neighborhood. Stay safe, and I’ll see you outside.”
Many of my neighbors placed the poster on their windows and doors. But what’s really been interesting to me is how in a matter of weeks, as our attention has turned from COVID to police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement, perhaps the print has another reading. As we approach the 21st day of protests in our streets, we have seen people across the spectrum in support of their Black friends, coworkers, neighbors, and fellow citizens. There is a lot of work to do to live up to our ideals. Enough work for every neighbor. I’m happy to be a part of a print community that has raised their voice during this time of change.
The hardest thing about not holding workshops this summer is knowing that so many of you are missing out on the incredible interactions and relationships and skill building that time at Penland fosters. We believe there’s no substitute for this intense, in-person learning. But we also know that, wherever they are, our instructors are a generous group with a lot to teach and share. So, in that spirit, we’re checking in with a handful of them who would have been here teaching at the start of our summer sessions. We hope their words, images, and short videos light a creative spark in you—may you nourish it until the next time we can be together in the studios again! #PenlandEverywhere
I miss being part of the creative community at Penland this year. Since the pandemic I have been printing, making short videos and bending branches around the corners of my studio. There is something about a stick at 90-degree angle that feels so wrong and unnatural that somehow feels right. Some days I am completely focused in the studio and know where I am headed. On other days I am restless, totally lost and wander from one project to the next.
Sometimes being stuck, however frustrating, is a good thing. I have been reflective about my work, humanity and how we are all connected. My agitation has kept me moving and I have gotten back in touch with what really drives my creative practice. Exploring new materials with no particular outcome in mind is one of those places. With exhibitions postponed and projects cancelled having time to play has been a gift.
Wishing everyone good health and abundant creativity.
Right now I’m working on a series of three large-scale collages made from cloth I wove and dyed by hand. These works combine the slow, methodical and thoroughly planned process of weaving, which I use to create raw material for collage with the spontaneous and playful puzzle-like creation of the final piece. Because the handwoven cloth is so dense it has a real weight and presence as a material, and putting the cut pieces together truly feels like building or sculpting.
When I started this series (still working on the title), I had a few things in mind that have been guiding the work: landscape, mountains, language, atmosphere, air, ice and water, chaos and order. I began this work a few months before quarantine, with seven huge panels of handwoven cloth in whites and creams of seven different materials (cotton warp woven with: linen, alpaca, bleached cotton, natural cotton, mohair, silk, and merino), which I overdyed in seven colors. Those cloths were then divided for the three large collages: the one you see on the wall is the largest and only vertical of the three, the other two are landscape orientation. The second one is finished and partially rolled up on the table, and I’m about to start on the third from the remaining pieces!
This is an image of my work space at Sawyer Street Studios in South Portland ME, a ceramics facility I purchased and renovated with three other women artists in 1988. We’re still going strong after all these years! The work you see here is from my most recent firing. All of my pieces are slab constructed with glazes and slips applied in layers, fired to 04 in oxidation. My reference is to various kinds of structures, some as small as letters of the alphabet, others large scale architectural and industrial forms. The idea is to refer rather than replicate. Tarpaper is an integral part of my idea generation and working process, used as maquette, template and mold. The patterns you see in the back left help me to envision 3-D form. A visit to my website will show you closer images of pieces, most of which are primarily clay, but some incorporate other materials.
In German usage, a metal designer is also called an artist blacksmith—that means blacksmith and art, or craft and design, or hand and head, or art and skill.
As an artisan, it is very important to me personally that I first make sure that I have the techniques to realize my ideas with my hands. So, on the drawing board, I already have certain steps of realization in mind. However, this is not always possible, especially if the idea is completely new. I first try to create the idea in a different, softer material and then use a metal model to get closer to the original. Many of my works were created as models before I made the original in the workshop.
I would have liked to follow this approach in my workshop at Penland: Get to know techniques and then create an idea from head to hand.
In an alternate reality, right now I would be immersed in the intensity of studio practice, the richness of relationships, and the abundance of fantastic food that is Penland. I would be teaching Say It Softly, a workshop driven by my own studio work of the last three years. We would be translating words into physical textile forms with processes like appliqué, reverse appliqué, piecing, embroidery, and embellishment (with loads of sequins). Instead, I am making masks and preparing to teach weaving at Appalachian State University as it was never intended: online.
I can only mentally justify my creative practice right now if it in some way gives something to others. Part of that drive has resulted in masks to give away (though certainly not at the same mass scale as so many artists right now), but a larger part has been modeling for my weaving students that the woven world is bigger than looms.
When my students at Appalachian State University left for spring break, their first major projects were almost finished on their looms. They had just started learning the language of weaving in January, and were ready to start speaking in visual sentences when their progress was halted. I promised to show them that weaving can happen anywhere and with anything, and so—in the last two months of the semester—I wove patterns (both complex and simple) throughout my home, using the obvious choices of fabric and yarn, but also things like tights, exercise equipment, spaghetti, and toilet paper in temporary installations. This practice was incredibly cathartic for me. It challenged that side of my brain that craves problem-solving and physical making, while providing what feels like meaningful examples to my students.
Now, I am preparing for the next iteration of weaving instruction, this time 100% online in a condensed five-week summer session. After teaching weaving on treadle looms for years, I am rethinking the entire woven world, and—for the first time—preparing instructional videos for my students. I am also considering how to respond to the incredible limitations of teaching and learning in this format: there is no direct physical interaction, there is no studio community, there is no yarn inventory. I am certain that the class will not be perfect, but I am also certain that my thinking and teaching about weaving will be forever changed.
My studio is a hot mess right now, with half-finished projects scattered everywhere and finished work layered on the walls, as daily reminders of canceled exhibitions. Fabric from my extensive stash is washed, ironed, cut, and/or sewn as it makes the slow transformation into masks. Yarn—from the scrap bin of the ASU fibers studio—blocks my path through the room as I obsessively, painstakingly disentangle and organize it to send off to my summer weaving students. I have no idea when “normal” will return, nor what my “real” studio work will look like when it does. For now, though, I am content to make a tiny contribution toward simply surviving this time, and am grateful to have the space and resources to do so.
Music and chocolate keep spirits uplifted.
Muse and stupidity approach in the wee hours.
All the cards are held in my hand.
Playing with the game helps to shape the quality of my life.
Born and raised in Japan and now resident in the U.S., I am fascinated by the universality of human nature, on the one hand, and its unique individuality, on the other. My work inevitably reflects on my own personality, experiences, feelings, and beliefs. The discipline of Japanese ethics, aesthetics, and culture was embedded in me before I recognized it. Drawing on these cultural roots, my technical training, and decades of making, I seek to bridge the structure of the traditional craft and the freedom of contemporary art and design.
Whether I am channeling my inner chaos into an abstract sculptural form or a functional decorative object, the challenge is how to embed poetic qualities in work. Fabricating in wood with my own two hands is as essential to me as breathing. It is how I think, how I shape my life, how I relate to the world. In the hope of sharing compassion, encouragement, and inspiration, I play my hand as best I can.
Recently my studio practice has slowed down as I ramped up watching my two kids full time. Catching a few hours each day has changed the way I have approached my creative time. Reading more poetry, working on pots for the garden, visiting ideas that have been on the back burner, and enjoying my kitchen pots even more. Unlike a lot of my colleagues, I am finding that because of the kids, I am away from the computer way more than usual. This means my emails take a little longer to get responded to and I am not synced into all the zoom possibilities, but I am engaging in my home space in a way that I have not since we moved here 5 years ago. Anyways, all this to say- I miss you and look forward to face to face connections soon. Be well. Lindsay
It’s so easy to assume that life will continue as we imagine it will. Maybe the challenge of our changing lives is to become more comfortable with the unknown. After a bit of a roller coaster ride, I feel my equilibrium and buoyancy returning. I seek solace in my studio, and feel so fortunate to have this life of clay already established, and a safe place to explore and imagine. Seeking beauty and working with color is especially uplifting. Daily rambles outside have led me to explore some of the old cemeteries in the area. I find the strolls peaceful, cementing relationships between the past, the present and the future. The two jars fronting this image are the first in a series responding to the grace and simplicity of grave monuments. The new memory I’m adopting is that this space between us all can hold humor, delight, surprise, new solutions, and thinking before action or words.
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.
At the end of March, we posted a video of the ceremony to name the Penland clay studio in honor of Bobby Kadis. On April 6, we were notified that Bobby had died from the cancer he had been wrestling with for seven years. He was 83. Back in 2015 Penland archivist Carey Hedlund and Jasmin McFayden, the director’s assistant, spent an afternoon talking to Bobby and prepared a tribute for that year’s auction catalog. We have adapted that tribute here to honor Bobby.
“I was sort of all business and this Penland experience shook me up.”
Bobby discovered clay more than forty years ago at a Sunday in the Park festival in Goldsboro, North Carolina. “There was a guy out there on a kick wheel, throwing pots,” he remembered. “I stood there and watched for a long time and within a week my wife Claudia had signed me up for his class at the arts center.” In 1978 Bobby came to Penland as a beginner—he’d just graduated from pinch pots to the kick wheel. His first workshop here was taught by the great ceramist Robert Turner, and Bobby found himself in a position he recognized as “far away from anything that I had ever experienced.”
“Bob Turner was a philosopher. All he wanted to do was get into your head, to make sure you understood what you were making and what you should be thinking about when you do it.”
Bobby was baffled by this new experience and Turner’s teaching style, but he came to recognize and value what Turner was doing: challenging his students to see, perceive, and to care in new ways. The two men forged a friendship and shared an ongoing conversation about life and clay. Bobby said that this first Penland workshop changed his life. Over the years he studied with many of the important artists of late 20th century ceramics. He reached beyond the boundaries of his career as a commercial real estate developer and became a maker in his own right.
“Why in the world would I want to be on this board? I go up to Penland and it’s Magic Mountain and everything runs gorgeously and I have a fabulous time.”
In addition to being a student, Bobby served for sixteen years on Penland’s board of trustees, including two years as chair. He was a voice for the student experience, a friend to the staff, and deeply involved as an advisor for the school’s operations. He also co-chaired, with Cynthia Bringle, the 2001-2004 Preserve Penland Campaign, which raised $11.5 million for the school’s infrastructure, endowment, and operations.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of history with this school. I feel like I’m—amazingly—always around when something interesting happens.”
Bobby forged an extraordinary relationship with Penland and maintained a unique vantage point. He knew every director except founder Lucy Morgan, and was a friend and advisor to most of them. He was a voice of reason in difficult times. And he had fun: attending dance parties in Bill Brown’s living room, Poly Proms at Northlight, and an impromptu modern dance performance on the porch of Dora’s Place. He experienced the many charms of Penland’s housing–over the years, he slept in almost every building–and, before the whole clay studio was named for him, he was honored with the Bobby Kadis Slop Bucket.
“Right away, I feel like if I can delve into it, I can be helpful.”
In addition to his work with Penland, Bobby was a tireless advocate for the arts across North Carolina, serving on the North Carolina Arts Council board for twenty years and creating the North Carolina Arts Council Foundation. From 2008 to 2013, he was a member of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, which honored him with their 2014 Distinguished Public Service Award. And we always knew which car was Bobby’s after he was given the Arts North Carolina license plate number 0001.
Bobby Kadis had a generosity of spirit accompanied by enthusiasm, clarity, modesty, and ambitious determination. His generosity, expertise, and advocacy touched scores of people–locally, regionally, and nationally. He made countless friends and colleagues while championing the arts with an energy and passion few individuals could muster.
For decades, Bobby Kadis has been one of Penland’s greatest friends: a donor, an advisor, a board member (four terms!), and, above all, a student. Bobby has taken clay workshops at Penland every year for the past 43 years. After he made a substantial gift to the studio during the Preserve Penland Campaign in 2001, a decision was made to name the clay studio in his honor. However, he didn’t want his name on the studio while he was still taking workshops.
Following a number of years of treatment for gradually advancing cancer, Bobby recently decided that he no longer had the energy for clay workshops. Everyone at Penland was saddened by this news, and it also meant the time had come to formally name the Bobby Kadis Clay Studio. The naming was held on March 14, just before we all stopped traveling or gathering. It was attended by Bobby and his wife Claudia and their immediate family, plus a small group of Penland staff and neighbors.
After brief remarks, director Mia Hall removed a clay-stained towel to reveal a beautiful mosaic sign made by Penland’s clay studio coordinator Susan Feagin. The sign incorporates pieces from some of Bobby’s pots, including one with his signature. Many of Bobby’s friends were not able to be there, so we made this video to share the special afternoon with everyone who missed it.
To the Kadis family, thank you for your unending support for Penland. And to Bobby, a giant hug and a giant thank you for your wise counsel, for the time and energy you have invested in Penland and the whole North Carolina arts community, and for giving us all an example of how to live a creative life. We’re proud and delighted that our clay studio now wears your name.
We are thrilled to welcome four new artists into the Penland resident artist community! Adam Atkinson, Everett Hoffman, Ellie Richards, and Adam Whitney will arrive on campus in September 2020 to begin their residencies at The Barns. They will join current residents Nate Cotterman, Jason Hartsoe, and Kit Paulson.
Penland’s resident artists are full-time artists who spend three years living and working as part of our school’s community. The primary expectation of them is that they engage intently with their work. Many use this time to explore new ideas and directions, undertake ambitious projects, or develop new bodies of work.
Please give a big welcome to Adam, Everett, Ellie, and Adam and get to know them a bit below. We can’t wait to see what they create during their time here!
Adam Atkinson and Everett Hoffman
“We are a queer artist couple whose studio practice has been defined by the deep bond we have to each other. We work side by side in multidisciplinary practices rooted in craft, striving to grow and give more to craft communities to sustain our field and individual studios.”
Adam Atkinson and Everett Hoffman are cross-disciplinary artists and collaborative partners, whose studio practices intersect in their shared connection to craft, adornment, and identity. Having both grown up in the Pacific Northwest, their individual artistic paths question the hyper masculine tropes associated with the wild west. From the perspective of a queer male experience, they make work through mixed-media installations, wood carvings, photography, and body adornment. Atkinson and Hoffman both graduated with a BFA from Boise State University in 2013, and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2018 (Hoffman) and East Carolina University in 2019 (Atkinson).
Atkinson and Hoffman have participated in a number of exhibitions nationally and internationally including the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, SOIL Gallery in Seattle, Wayne Center for Contemporary Craft in Pennsylvania, the Benaki Museum in Greece, and Nogoya Zokei University in Japan. They are co-curators of Spectral Matter Projects, an annual exhibition platform for LGBTQIA+ artists navigating queer perspectives in craft. Slippery and Subversive marked the first exhibition in this series, highlighting artists whose work takes a position of slippage and ambiguity as a way to redefine body-object relationships.
“As an artist, I recognize freedom of expression as both a privilege and a responsibility; making objects in wood is one way I’ve found to communicate effectively and optimistically with this belief in mind.”
Ellie Richards looks to the tradition of both woodworking and the readymade to create eclectic assemblage, installation, and objects exploring intersections of labor and leisure. In addition to mining the histories of furniture and forestry as cornerstones in her research, she has traveled extensively to investigate the roles that play and improvisation have on the artistic process. Her work, both furniture and sculpture, has been included in exhibitions at the Mint Museum, Center for Craft, SOFA Chicago, and the Society of Contemporary Craft. After receiving an MFA at Arizona State University, Richards participated in residencies, fellowships, and teaching appointments, respectively, at Anderson Ranch, Peters Valley, the Vermont Studio Center, and Appalachian Center for Craft. From there she was Penland’s wood studio coordinator from 2015-2019. This year Richards was awarded Windgate residencies at the Center for Art in Wood and in the wood/furniture design programs at San Diego State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“The greatest inspiration in my work is the process and love of hammering.”
Adam Whitney is a metalsmith who focuses his work on forming and shaping sheet metal into volumetric forms by means of raising, chasing, and repoussé. He is constantly exploring and pushing his understanding and knowledge of the craft. When not in his studio, Adam travels for various projects and to teach workshops, bringing his passion for metalsmithing wherever he goes.
Adam received his BFA in Crafts / Materials Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he concentrated in metalsmithing. He has worked as a bench jeweler and metals studio coordinator, taught jewelry design at Raffles College in Kuala Lumpur, and now runs his own studio, AW Metalsmith.