“As a glass maker I’ve found myself drawn to ceramics more and more. Both mediums have a fluidity that in order to really harness, you have to hone in on the moment. You can’t just let go of molten glass or a spinning potter’s wheel whenever you desire. Sometimes you have to though; sometimes my glass starts cracking and fighting against me and I have to set it down.
This happened to me a few times during my recent study at Penland. When it did, I’d go visit Upper Clay. Then I felt rejuvenated.”
“The clay studio is a safe haven compared to the flameworking studio. There’s a gorgeous light coming in from the windows. The colors of clay and glazes are subdued and easy on the eye. More often than not, a chill tune is playing while wheels hum in the background. It’s the perfect place to see my medium from another maker’s point of view.”
—Arlie Trowbridge, glass artist and owner of Urban Revisions, who took a one-week workshop in wearable glass with Rachel Rader in the flameworking studio last week.
It’s going to be one busy Penland weekend with two show openings. On Friday, October 11, Penland resident artists will be at the Asheville Area Arts Council Gallery at 346 Depot Street from 6:00-9:00 pm to celebrate the opening of The Barns Studios 2013. Curated by Kathryn Gremley, director of the Penland Gallery, the show opens on October 10 and runs through November 1. The resident artists include David Eichelberger (clay), Micah Evans (glass), Dustin Farnsworth (sculpture), Robin Johnston (textiles), Rachel Meginnes (textiles) and Tom Shields (sculpture).
Meanwhile, Penland’s core fellows Audrey Bell, Zee Boudreaux, Sarah Brown, Angela Eastman, Liz Koerner, Mike Krupiarz, Will Lentz, Rachel Mauser and Molly Spadone (pictured below) will present their work as part of Core Show 2013, Eighteen Hands. The opening reception is on Saturday, October 12, 8:00-11:00 pm in the Northlight Building at Penland. The show will run October 12-15.
Emilia Ferraro Andrew Glasgow Resident Writer, 2013
The problem with trying to “describe” Penland is that Penland is not only a “place,” a school, a community of likeminded creative people. It is also, or mainly (for me) an experience; a sensuous experience in its widest sense, that touched the very core of my being and as such it is extremely difficult to share with others. How to convey in words the change of energies that I immediately sensed as the taxi that was taking me to Penland from Asheville turned left from the main road into the winding narrow road up to the school? The visual lushness of the vegetation, its myriad shades of colours and smells—just a timid hint of the bombarding to which my senses would soon be subjected to at the school.
How to describe the buzz and creative tension that define the very air in this small hidden corner of the Appalachian mountain range? The mist and humidity of the summer mornings only added to the sensuous quality of the place. Penland is a “place” in the traditional sense of the word as a setting with a specific geographical location, beautiful buildings in the vernacular regional style –the heritage of a long tradition of solid skills and local knowledge. But it is also a way of being that goes beyond time and space, where I was offered the luxury of taking leave from a busy academic life, mostly guided by the capitalist ethics of production that has also infiltrated “the business of knowledge.” Everything was provided for me: a wooden and stone house that defies the boundaries between “inside” and “outside”—a shelter from “nature” and a platform onto it. The food: abundant, varied, and tasty provided a concrete and tangible sign of the defining character that Penland has for me: its nourishing quality. Penland takes care of the body in a variety of ways—of which excellent food and yoga exercise are only an example. Penland nourishes souls by providing that indefinable “something” that feeds our human-ness.
Penland opened the doors of workshops and the experience and expertise attached to them. It welcomed me—an academic, not particularly “arty” (I thought)—into a community of creative and original minds. By treating me as a peer, and making me feel I had something interesting and meaningful to give, Penland gave me the confidence to experiment, dare, and push the boundaries of my own creativity and imagination. It transformed my sense of who I feel I am. It gave me space, freedom, and a safe human and physical environment to “be” in any way I felt I wanted to. It did so without asking anything in return.
When I asked what expectations Penland had about my stay, the answer I got was: “Just that you immerse yourself fully into the Penland experience.” I cannot think of a more generous and wise invitation. I could only do this by participating actively in the everyday “practice” of life at Penland. Practice opened the way to experience, and experience opened the door onto my Self. So, if I had to summarise what Penland has done for me, I would say it has allowed me to get in touch with my inner and true Being. Anyone that has had such an encounter at least once in his or her life knows that there is no going back.