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Artist Spotlight: Wendy Maruyama

The Penland community is like the galaxy: ever expanding and made up of stars.

Wendy Maruyama standing next to a wooden shrine with elephant masks behind
Wendy Maruyama with her Penland Gallery exhibition “The wildLIFE Project” in 2016

Recently, when the latest episode of Craft in America was released, we were thrilled to see Penland artists Wendy Maruyama and Cristina Córdova both featured. And more recently, when the prestigious 2020 United States Artists Fellowships were announced, we were excited to see Wendy’s name on the list again, this time with fellow Penland instructors Aaron McIntosh, Del Harrow, and Linda Sikora.

Wendy Maruyama has been creating innovative furniture, sculpture, and installations for over forty years, and she’s taught generations of woodworkers as a professor and mentor. Her work is technically masterful and deeply personal. For any of you who aren’t familiar with it, we thought we’d take this opportunity to introduce you to Wendy and her craft.

Wendy first learned furniture making as an undergraduate at San Diego State. She says she was drawn to the program because of the free thinking and the organic forms—“the furniture didn’t look like furniture,” she remembers. At that time, the woodworking field was almost entirely male dominated. “I felt like we women had to be three times more amazing to even be counted,” Wendy recalls. Nevertheless, she went on to Rochester Institute of Technology and graduated with a Masters degree in furniture making, one of the first two women to ever complete the program. And from there, she just kept pushing herself. While her earlier work was built around traditional craft objects, she has since moved beyond the boundaries of studio craft and into the realm of installation and social practice. “Wendy reached a level of mastery, saw the boundaries of technique, and kept pushing beyond them,” says curator Diedre Vissar.

Wendy’s more recent collections include Executive Order 9066, an installation of mixed-media wall cabinets and sculptures that explores the World War II-era persecution and internment of over 100,000 Japanese Americans, and The wildLIFE Project, which addresses issues of poaching and wildlife protection. This later installation (pictured in the first photo above) was one of the first exhibitions to show at the Penland Gallery after it reopened in 2016. Wendy filled the space with exquisitely-crafted wooden shrines and a series of imposing and majestic elephant masks, each between eight and twelve feet tall and stitched together from dozens and dozens of wooden panels. For visitors, the experience of the show engaged the senses and the emotions, masterfully bringing together artwork and advocacy.

Wendy has been involved with the Penland community for over thirty years. She taught her first workshop in the wood studio in the summer of 1982, and since then she’s returned occasionally as an instructor. More recently, she joined us here for her Penland Gallery show and to be the featured artist at the 2016 Penland Benefit Auction. Dozens of Penland artists, including our own director Mia Hall, count Wendy as a teacher, mentor, and friend. As Penland instructor Adam John Manley remembers, “The thing that she instilled in me and generations of students is—don’t ever settle on the thing that you just did as the final product. Keep pushing that.”

Wendy’s latest work has taken another turn, pivoting from emotionally-laden advocacy to the colors, history, and aesthetic of the Bauhaus. Her series of “wooden weavings” inspired by Anni Albers will be part of an exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus. And from there, who knows what Wendy will create next? “I feel like I’m an emerging artist again,” she says. “You can’t go back in time age wise, but I think creatively I feel like I’m young again and I’m doing this new work.”

Congratulations, Wendy, on two very well deserved honors! We’re lucky to count you as part of this community.

Six new "wooden weavings" by Wendy Maruyama
Six pieces from Wendy Maruyama’s new series “The Color Field”

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Creation to Celebration: 6 Cs of Winter Residency

Every winter, we begin the new year with a month of short, intense residencies at Penland. Winter Residency is a time when we invite artists to arrive with their own ideas and projects and bring them to life in our studios. There is no instruction and we don’t give assignments—we just ask that each resident dive in, explore, and connect with the energy and creativity of this community. It’s the best start to the year we could hope for.

Below, we highlight a few photographs and themes from this year’s residency. Find out more (and learn how to apply to join us next year!) on the Winter Residency page.

Creation

Mary Raivel at the bench in Penland metals

Winter residency is a time to create. It’s a time to actually work on those ideas that just won’t keep quite and see what’s really there when you give them a chance. Here, metals resident Mary Raivel is continuing a series of pieces that incorporate old lenses and watch crystals. She says, “I would never have managed to devote the necessary time to this new work on age and ageism using new (to me) materials, were it not for my time here.”

Concentration

Potter Ronen Yamin trimming a vessel

No meal schedules, no work-study schedules, no class projects, no daily slide talks. There is less structure to Penland’s Winter Residencies than there is to our workshop sessions, which means you can work how and when it works for you. It’s amazing how much our residents accomplish in just a couple weeks of deep concentration! Here, potter Ronen Yamin focuses while trimming a series of vessels.

Collection

Katie St. Clair working on a collection of paintings

With half as many people but just as much space, winters at Penland provide a quieter, more expansive atmosphere than the all-in exuberance of our summer workshops. Here, painting and drawing resident Katie St. Clair spreads out during the first two weeks of residency to put the finishing touches on a collection of paintings for an upcoming exhibition. Winter residency is the perfect time to take a step back from individual pieces and think about your work as a whole.

Challenge

a collection of spoons made by Penland winter residents

Mostly, it’s personal challenges that our winter residents set for themselves, but there are always a few fun group challenges, too. The annual Table in a Day competition is one we’ve written about repeatedly on the Penland blog (2020, 2018, 2017). This year, residents introduced a new one: Spoon Before Noon. Above are just some of the results from the morning in a variety of materials and even more styles!

Collaboration

Sasha Baskin screenprinting

When you get 80+ artists together in an open studio environment, there’s bound to be a lot of discussion, sharing, and building on each other’s ideas. Often, these interactions lead to new collaborations, such as this one between textiles residents Sasha Baskin and Alyssa Salomon. Together, they used Alyssa’s screenprinting knowledge to turn Sasha’s lace designs into prints on fabric.

Celebration

view of the final winter residency show and tell

To end it all, we ask everyone to participate in one of our oldest, most cherished traditions: Show and Tell. It’s a time to explore what everyone else has been up to while you’ve been head down in the studio, to catch up with old friends and say hi to new ones, and mostly to marvel at the sheer creative force that is the Penland community. Winter residents, you amaze us! Thank you for giving this month your all and sharing it so generously with us.

Want to see even more? Head to our Winter Residency Facebook album.

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Summer 2020 Workshops!

catalog cover showing a woman working at the anvil in the iron studio

We’re thrilled to announce our complete lineup of summer 2020 workshops! We’ve got 104 different offerings for you to choose from, each one an opportunity to learn from experienced makers and explore new materials and dream up new ideas and connect with other folks doing the same. Browse them all by studio, by session, or in our online catalog PDF (paper catalogs are at the printer at this very moment!).

Want a little taste of what you might find?

Books & Paper: large-scale sheet forming, cast paper sculpture, cut paper and pop-up books
Clay: ceramic tile, animated ceramic sculptures, building with paperclay, kurinuki
Drawing & Painting: abstract painting, observational oil painting, sketchbooks
Glass: glass painting, borosilicate sculpture, mold making, hot glass sculpting
Iron: metal furniture, forged utensils and vessels, sculptural steel
Metals: electroforming, Japanese engraving, sand casting, gold fusing
Photo: view cameras, poetic photographs, cameraless photography, hand coloring prints
Print & Letterpress: mokuhanga, screenprinting, typography on the press, lithography
Textiles: block printing with natural dyes, sculptural basketry, boro and indigo, intermediate weaving
Wood: curved forms in wood, timber framing, cork, sculptural spoon carving

…and dozens and dozens of other things, too.

Registration will open for all summer workshops on January 13 at noon Eastern time on a first-come, first-served basis. Scholarships are available for all summer workshops! Scholarship applications open January 1 and are due by February 17. Starting this year, scholarships have a reduced application fee of $10.

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Scholarships to Join Us Fall 2019!

Concentrations are Penland’s signature eight-week sessions. They’re a singular experience—almost as long as a college semester, with the intensity of a total-immersion workshop. Whether you’re new to the material or a regular in the studio, they’re an opportunity to focus, experiment, connect, and make enormous strides in your work.

Scholarships are available for the Concentrations below! If you have a desire for creative exploration in a supportive, energizing community, please apply to join us. There’s really nothing like it.

All Outward Appearances
with Jack Mauch and guest instructor Ellen Kaspern
September 22 – November 15, 2019

Experienced instructor Jack Mauch will lead students through an in-depth exploration of surface decoration techniques and the wooden structures beneath. Students will start small, applying processes like veneering, marquetry, parquetry, and wood and metal inlay to handmade frames and boxes. From there, they’ll quickly move on to building wall cabinets and small tables that incorporate their surface patterning. Students of all levels, from those who have never before touched a chisel to seasoned woodworkers, will end the course by designing and building a furniture or sculpture project that expands their skills and visual vocabularies in wood. As Jack explains, “We’ll value process and discovery over product, keep a steady but contemplative pace, and mine the veins of our aesthetic curiosity—especially when that takes us deep below the surface.” Expect to challenge yourself, learn a whole lot, and meet folks doing the same. All levels.

 

Paper & the Unique Print
with Georgia Deal and guest instructor Helen Hiebert
September 22 – November 15, 2019

Students in this intensive workshop will move between Penland’s paper and printmaking studios to explore the endless possibilities for combining handmade paper and monoprinting. The class will begin in the paper studio, where instructor Georgia Deal will introduce fibers and processes from both Eastern and Western papermaking traditions. Students will experiment with stenciling, inclusions, embedments, pigmenting, pulp transfers, and more to create expressive sheets tailored to their individual visions. Over in the printmaking studio, they will use these sheets as substrates for printing, using a wide range of monoprint and monotype processes to create imagery. The back-and-forth of working in both media will expand your visual vocabulary and encourage you to own every aspect of the process, from paper to print! All levels.

 

Focus on Fabrication
with Andrew Hayes and guest instructor Mike Rossi
September 22 – November 15, 2019

Penland instructor and former resident artist Andrew Hayes will guide students as they transform stock steel into a wide variety of functional and sculptural objects of their own design. Students will get their ideas flowing and solidify their skills as they cut, form, weld, and finish their way through a series of short projects. Then they’ll move on to more independent work, focusing the whole time on concept, design, and execution. “The goal of this workshop is for you to find your aesthetic in steel,” says Andrew. Skills including measuring; layout; cutting with torches, saws, cutoff wheels, and shears; gas, MIG, and TIG welding; finishing; grinding; sanding; filing; patina; paint; and presentation will help you get there. All levels.

 

 

 

 

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Photo of the Week: All The Chairs!

spring wood concentration students posing with a table full of mini chair models

This is what a week’s worth of ideas looks like. Annie Evelyn and her furniture students spent the whole first week of their concentration Chairish Every Moment making models. Zany, classic, ergonomic, experimental, sculptural—there was a mini chair for just about anyone at their group critique on Friday. And, now that they’ve gotten their ideas flowing and gathered feedback, her students are prepared to move into making human-sized furniture with energy and intention.

Expect to see some incredible chairs over the next seven weeks!

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Photo of the Week: Bandsaw Boxes!

Penland staff posing with their in-progress bandsaw boxes

Pictured in this photo are a couple metalsmiths, a photographer, a few teachers, a glassblower, some folks who can maneuver a tractor, two people who sure know their way around an Excel spreadsheet, at least four potters, moms and dads, a rock climber, a painter, a tiny-house builder, vegetable gardeners, travelers—in short, a selection of Penland’s adventurous, talented, dedicated staff!

Today, instead of being out in the maintenance building or the local schools or the main office, these folks spent the day in the wood studio with coordinator Ellie Richards (she’s the one in the middle with the yellow drill!). Ellie taught a one-day workshop on making bandsaw boxes. It’s a fairly simple, endlessly adaptable process that involves sawing a solid block of wood into pieces, removing the central piece, gluing it all back up into a box, refining the shape, and decorating with whatever colors and textures and fancy bits your heart desires.

Knowing this group, the end results will be quirky, beautiful, and full of personality.

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Behind Fall Photos

Eight weeks of Penland fall concentrations have come and gone. We’ve shared lots of studio photos and show-and-tell photos and photos of the goofy moments in between. But there’s a lot that’s constantly happening during concentrations that is harder to pin down—the messy, beautiful, confusing, triumphant work of learning and connecting and growing.

As we’ve heard again and again from students, time at Penland is not just about a handmade mug; it’s about the transformational power of learning to make a mug with your hands. Below, we illustrate some of the less tangible aspects of creative immersion with a photo from each of our recent concentrations.

Focus
Clay student Brian Chen adds surface decoration to a run of tumblers using a masking technique he learned from instructor Tom Jaszczak. Freedom from distractions is one thing that leads to such leaps in student work in just eight weeks.

adding surface decoration to a run of bisqued pots

Teamwork
Studio assistant Eric Meeker uses a drop or two of water to break his piece from the punty while core fellow Joshua Fredock stands ready to grab it. The nature of glassblowing is a team effort, but students in all studios benefit from the feedback, energy, and expertise of their peers.

working with a partner to remove a glass disc from the punty

Process
Textiles student Emily Parkinson builds up pattern on a length of printed yardage through the careful spacing and layering of screens. The sketches, calculations, and in-betweens aren’t always readily apparent in a finished piece, but that step-by-step process is integral to the outcome.

pulling a screen in the textiles studio

Repetition
Henry Rogers heats a length of steel in the iron studio. Over the course of eight weeks, students move between the forge and the anvil and back again hundreds of times. Each heat builds intuition and muscle memory, and every swing of the hammer builds accuracy and control and confidence. It’s the hours of practice that transform a beginner into an experienced maker.

heating at the forge in the iron studio

Inspiration
Hannah Roman works on a painting in her Color & Abstraction workshop surrounded by sketches, previous work, and a giant collaborative still life for reference. Ideas can crop up in the most unexpected places, be it something a fellow student is trying, a process in another studio, the landscape of the Penland campus outside, or maybe just the shadow your water bottle casts across your desk.

concentrating on a painting at the easel

Growth
First-time woodworker Ann Ritter glues tenons into the aprons of her table with instructor Wyatt Severs. Even students who have never touched wood or metal or clay can become proficient over eight weeks of immersive studio time, and this growth sometimes opens up entire new futures and dreams.

working together to glue up tenon joints in the wood studio

Attention
Core fellow Stormie Burns pulls a run of prints on the Vandercook press. Like a lot of making, it’s a repetitive process that benefits from quiet attention and an ability to be present in the moment. There’s a joy that comes from being immersed in the details.

pulling prints on the vandercook press

And a few things not pictured above:
The Penland friendships each student will carry with them. The newfound confidence and sense of belonging. The deeper appreciation for hands and material and time. The ideas that started here as mere sparks and are now burning brightly across the web of our community.

To all our fall concentration students and instructors, thank you for reminding us about the importance and beauty of what we do here. And to all those who would like to be students, we hope you will be! Registration is currently open for Spring 2019 concentrations and 1-week workshops.