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Welcome, New Core Fellows!


We’re excited to announce and welcome our five newest Penland Core Fellows—Kimberly Jo, Brandon Lopez, Nicholas McDonald, Grace Anne Odom, and Amal Tamari. They will join returning fellows Lisa Nguyen, Celia Shaheen, and Lily Wilkins. For one or two years, they will share a house, take classes, expand their practices, and help run the school. We are so excited to welcome them to our community. Meet the new core!

Kimberly Jo is a cross-disciplinary artist working primarily in printmaking, ceramics, and textiles. They received a BFA in printmaking and enjoyed a post-baccalaureate position in ceramics at the Hartford Art School. In addition to pursuing arts education, Kimberly has worked on small-scale farms across northwestern Connecticut. Their dual passions are at the heart of their practice, which draws parallels between different materials and honors the ways in which they diverge.


Brandon Lopez is a Mexican-American artist creating functional and sculptural work with glass. He first began working with glass at Penland in 2013. He then attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia where he received a BFA in glass. Brandon has assisted for individual artists as well as for workshops at Penland, Ox-Bow, and Pilchuck. His work combines traditional glassblowing techniques with the aesthetics of objects made by ancient civilizations to create sculpture and design objects. Brandon is currently living in Asheville, focusing on his studio practice and assisting area artists.



Nicholas McDonald received their BA in political science and art from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. Nicholas’s practice focuses on the power of process and the exploration of their complex identity as a black person, “with one foot in inescapable history and the other in the drive of [their] contemporary environment.” At Penland, they plan to continue to investigate ties between blackness, culture, and craft.

Grace Anne Odom is a metalsmith and photographer in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she works as a bench jeweler and maintains a studio practice. Before focusing on craft, she served her community through social work and earned a BA in psychology at Hendrix College. With the goal of making craft more accessible in her community, she is eager to strengthen and diversify her skills as a core fellow.


Amal Tamari is a recent graduate from Earlham College where she received a BA in studio arts with a focus on ceramics. Since completing her degree, she has been studying at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a post-baccalaureate student. Amal apprenticed for ceramicists Kelsie Rudolph and Sunshine Cobb in Helena, Montana. Amal is excited to explore different mediums that will help to develop her artistic voice.

Selection Panel

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to apply. Penland received 130+ applications to the core fellowship this year. The selection process was thoughtfully overseen by the following panel, in conjunction with Penland staff.

(Left to right): Ben Blount, studio artist, Mellanee Goodman, grant program manager at Center for Craft, Critz Campbell, professor at Mississippi State University, Althea Murphy-Price, professor at University of Tennessee