In addition to the talented artists on campus as students and instructors right now, we are lucky to have Jenni Sorkin at Penland. Jenni is an Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and our 2016 Andrew Glasgow Resident Writer. Like everyone else here, Jenni is spending her time at Penland deeply engrossed in craft. Specifically, she will be working on an essay about abstraction and textiles which will be published in the catalog for the exhibition Boundary Markers: Outlier Artists and the Contemporary Mainstream. The exhibition is set to open at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. in 2018.
Just last month, Jenni’s book Live Form: Women, Ceramics and Community was published by the University of Chicago Press. The book investigates the influences of ceramics on the “artistic avant-garde” during the second half of the 20th century. It highlights three women—Marguerite Wildenhain, Mary Caroline (M. C.) Richards, and Susan Peterson—each one a ceramic artist “whose careers throughout the mid-twentieth century expand and enrich our current understanding of what socially engaged artistic practice is today.”
Jenni will present a talk based on Live Form on Sunday, August 21 at 8:15 PM in Northlight. The event is free, and all are welcome and encouraged to join.
Read more about Jenni and the Andrew Glasgow Writers Residency here.
Writer, historian, critic, and gallerist Garth Clark will speak at Penland School of Crafts on Sunday, July 27, at 8:15 PM. Clark is spending several weeks at Penland as this year’s Andrew Glasgow Writing Resident. He will speak about the recent explosion of ceramic activity in the fine arts and offer other thoughts about issues in contemporary craft. The lecture takes place in the Northlight building, and it is free and open to the public.
Clark is co-founder of Garth Clark Gallery in New York and Los Angeles, founder and former director of the Ceramic Arts Foundation, and founder of the CFile Foundation, a global community working to bring ceramics into the mainstream of visual art. He is the author of over sixty books and several hundred reviews and essays. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Art (London); his honors include several honorary doctorates and lifetime achievement awards as well as the “Art Book of the Year” award from the Art Libraries Society of North America.
An accomplished lecturer, Clark has spoken in thirty countries at over 100 major venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Sorbonne University in Paris. His two most recent books are Mind Mud: The Conceptual Ceramics of Ai Weiwei and Lucio Fontana Ceramics. He is the editor-in-chief of CFile Online, an online forum for ceramics in art, design, and architecture.
The Andrew Glasgow Writers Residency is a program of Penland School of Crafts that provides focused time in a retreat environment to writers who will benefit from interacting with a craft community. The residency is named in honor of Asheville resident Andrew Glasgow, who served as the director of the American Craft Council and the Furniture Society, and as director of education and collections at the Southern Highland Craft Guild.
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.