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Crafting the Future

Shanti working on her forged gate in the Penland Iron Studio
Shanti Broom working in the Penland iron studio, summer 2019.

Across the country, there is a plethora of organizations doing incredible work to support underrepresented young people in the arts. In New Orleans, YAYA offers free after-school training to local teens in painting, glass, ceramics, mixed media art, and entrepreneurship. In Los Angeles, HOLA’s extensive visual arts programming connects hundreds of students in grades 1-12 with 115 free classes in twenty different art forms. In Newark, NJ, Glassroots provides glass and entrepreneurship programs to underserved youth and young adults in the area.

Similarly, there are incredible craft schools around the USA like Penland, Haystack, Arrowmont, and others that provide emerging and established artists with new skills, inspiration, and an engaged network of peers and mentors. Often times, workshops or residencies at these schools can be pivotal experiences for artists as they explore and establish their careers.

But between these influential youth programs and adult craft schools, a group of artists saw a gap: the many talented, inspired young people who never pursue careers in the arts. How can we continue to support promising young artists once they have aged out of youth art programs? they wondered. How can we better connect them to the incredible opportunities that craft schools offer? How can we enable more of them to thrive as professional artists?

To tackle these questions, they started Crafting the Future this spring, a fledgling collective of artists interested in addressing the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the craft world:

The fields of craft, art, and design in the United States do not reflect the full spectrum of people in our country. When groups of artists go unrepresented, an inaccurate and incomplete story is being told, sold, and preserved—and everyone loses.

At Crafting the Future, our goal is to increase representation in these disciplines so that we all can benefit from a richer, more diverse story… Working together and combining our resources, we support the careers of young, underrepresented artists by connecting them to opportunities that will help them thrive.

Tyrik at work on a self-portrait in the Penland Painting Studio
Tyrik Conaler in the Penland painting studio with an in-progress self-portrait behind him.

As a first step, Crafting the Future started a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to send one alum from YAYA in New Orleans to a summer session at Penland. The campaign quickly drew enough support that they doubled the goal to $8,000, which would cover the costs for two YAYA artists to travel to Penland for a workshop. Thanks to the help of 141 backers, they reached that goal within two weeks.

A few short months later, Tyrik Conaler and Shanti Broom, both young alums of the YAYA program, arrived at Penland for session 2. Tyrik enrolled in Michael Dixon’s oil painting workshop, where he fine tuned both the technical and conceptual aspects of painting through the lens of self-portraiture. At the end of the session, a collaboration between Tyrik and the instructor sparked a bidding war at Thursday night’s scholarship auction. Meanwhile, Shanti was learning to work at the forge and anvil in Shawn Lovell’s iron workshop. “I’ve never done any forging before,” Shanti told me, “But I chose this workshop because it’s something that you don’t see a lot of women doing.” Two weeks later, she had gained enough skill to translate her drawings for an art-deco-inspired gate into metal, and she was eager to keep going.

So is Crafting the Future. The organization plans to raise money to send more students to craft school workshops in summer 2020 based on the success of their 2019 pilot. “I can’t emphasize enough the changes we’ve seen in Tyrik since he’s been back from Penland. Shanti, too,” says Meg, YAYA’s executive director. “It’s particularly cool to provide opportunities like Crafting the Future to older artists because the younger kids really look up to them. We’re now offering special Saturday night studio hours for a select group of artists, building on Tyrik and Shanti’s enthusiasm about being able to work any time of day or night at Penland—it’s quickly becoming something that the younger artists are aspiring to be a part of. The ripple effect is incredible!”

As Crafting the Future explained in their first campaign, “One scholarship won’t change the face of the art world, but it just might change the course of a life. It’s the best way we know to kickstart the change we want to see in our community.” Eventually, as the organization becomes more established, they’d like to work with additional craft schools and provide opportunities like internships, mentorships, and college prep to young artists.

Here at Penland, we’ll be cheering them on the whole way. We’re incredibly proud to build our relationship with Crafting the Future and to welcome the energy and perspective that students like Tyrik and Shanti bring to our studios and our community. We hope that many of you take some time to learn more about the Crafting the Future mission and get involved. You can read about the Crafting the Future vision here and follow them on Instagram here.

Shanti, Tyrik, and four friends pose in front of the Penland knoll
Shanti (left) and Tyrik (2nd from left) with friends from their Penland session. Images via Angelique Scott

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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: Personal Uniforms

 

 

If you could design a garment that perfectly fit your unique body, that worked with your lifestyle, that reflected your values—what would it look like? That’s the question that Design Your Own Uniform instructors Libby O’Bryan and Giovanni Daina-Palermo posed to their session 5 textiles students. The answer, in process, is above.

These are the folks in Design Your Own Uniform posing in their uniform muslins. Each muslin has been carefully designed, patterned, and tweaked repeatedly to fit its wearer’s body, aesthetic, and needs. Some of them are prototypes for clothes that could go hiking and biking, while others are garments with pockets in specific locations or jumpsuits that could go from the couch to a fancy dinner out.

Once the patterns were perfected in this stage, the next step was to create them in their final fabric, from chambray and linen to denim and jersey. A few finished garments even made appearances at Show & Tell at the end of the session!

Big thanks to photo studio assistant Greg Jundanian for generously taking this portrait and sharing it with us. We love a good cross-studio collaboration!

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Photo of the Week: The Largest Loom

Instructor Peggy Hart and her studio assistant and friend Jean Hosford arrived for session 3 driving a large rented van. The reason? They were bringing this incredible fly shuttle loom along with them! The loom is big enough to frame the entire class (see below). It’s also big enough to weave a large blanket in a single piece, and Peggy’s students made good use of it. Together, they created a lovely throw that will be up for bidding at tomorrow night’s scholarship auction.

 

 

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Sixteen Spring Workshops

We’ve just finished uploading all Spring 2020 workshop descriptions to the Penland website, which means that a full year of workshops is available for your browsing pleasure! Take a look at all our upcoming offerings here.

Spring and fall at Penland both offer students two very different options: focused, immersive one-week sessions that delve into a particular skill or technique, and expansive, eight-week sessions known as concentrations that allow artists of all levels to cover a lot of ground in the studio.

Here’s a taste of the concentrations we’ll be offering next March 8 – May 1, 2020 for those who want to go deep in the studio:

  • ClayParts Unknown with Jenny Mendes
  • GlassIntentions & Innovations with Dan Mirer
  • IronAttention to Detail with Andrew Dohner
  • MetalsWunderkammer with Suzanne Pugh
  • PhotoProcessing Process with Mercedes Jelinek
  • LetterpressPrint/Process/Production with Jamie Karolich
  • TextilesFollowing Threads: Trusting Tangents with Hillary Waters Fayle
Students in Annie Evelyn’s Spring 2019 woodworking concentration pose with some of their chairs at the session’s final Show and Tell.

And, for those who want the Penland experience in shorter bursts, we’re excited to share these one-week offerings:

  • GlassEbb & Flow with Ben Elliott
  • TextilesHandweaving: Foundations & Exploration with Amanda Thatch
  • PrintmakingWord & Image with Stuart Kestenbaum and Susan Webster
  • PaperPaper of Place with Frank Brannon
  • TextilesFelt & Straw Hats: Traditional Blocked & Freeform with Wayne Wichern
  • WoodThe Art of the Bandsaw Box with Jenna Goldberg
  • BooksBookstone Bookwork Woodwork with Daniel Essig
  • ClayDon’t Hate, Decorate! with Kurt Anderson
  • WoodCreating Stringed Instruments with Beth Ireland & Keunho Peter Park

Registration for each of the above workshops opens on Wednesday, May 15 at 10 AM Eastern time. Students will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Scholarships are available for all eight-week concentrations. Scholarship applications are due by June 15 for fall workshops and November 28 for spring workshops. Beginners and advanced students alike are encouraged to apply!

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Jaime and Cristina in the Clay Studio

Puerto Rican artist Jaime Suarez paints on a large piece of paper with watery red clay while students watch

Visiting artists are part of every spring and fall concentration at Penland. They help enrich our sessions by bringing new perspectives, skills, and approaches to our studios and sharing their experience with our students. This spring, we’ve been doubly lucky to have two visiting artists, Jaime Suárez and Cristina Córdova. They spent this week working side by side in the studio, pushing clay in very different directions.

In addition to their public lectures at Northlight, both Jaime and Cristina opened up their processes to the community through an afternoon of demonstrations. Jaime walked us through two of his recent experiments with making marks in clay. In one, shown above, he applied a watery clay slip to a crumpled sheet of paper. As the slip pooled and dried, it captured the topography of the paper surface in layers of clay, creating the possibility for a two-dimensional print of a three-dimensional surface. In another process, shown below, Jaime demonstrated how he creates monoprints with just a clay slab and water, altering the image by varying the moisture levels and the impressions on the clay. Like the clay paintings, these prints captured the data of the surface using the inherent colors and qualities of his material.

Artist Jaime Suarez giving a demonstration to a group of students on how to monoprint with clay and water

Cristina, for her part, focused on clay’s incredible sculptural potential. She gave a demonstration of her process for sculpting the human head, starting with a flat slab of paper clay that she formed into a cylinder and then refined. Over the course of half an hour, we watched with awe as the cylinder first took on the rough shape of a human head through pushing and paddling, then developed a ridge at the brow, cavities at the eyes, and protrusions for the nose and lips. To build up the features further and add unique expressions, Cristina built onto them with smaller additions of clay. All the while, she explained the shapes she keeps in mind to guide her sculpting—the egg shape of the head, the teardrop shape formed by the side of the nostril, the three different planes of the lips.

Cristina Cordova sculpting a head from red paper clay while a ring of students looks on

Even though none of our current workshops deal directly with figurative sculpting or painting or making prints, there is a lot of inspiration to be drawn from these demonstrations. We hope all the students who attended will return to their benches, their wheels, and their torches with ideas about how to take advantage of the inherent qualities of their materials to move them in new directions. Thank you, Jaime and Cristina, for being here and sharing so generously!

Cristina Cordova refines the features on the side of the clay head she is sculpting

 

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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!