2017 Exhibition: INSPIRED

March 28 – May 14, 2017
Reception | Saturday April 1, 4:30 – 6:30PM

Penland School of Crafts is best known for its total-immersion, residential craft workshops that have created transformative educational experiences for thousands. Not quite as well known, but no less significant, are the school’s multiyear residencies—the Core Fellowship and the Resident Artist Program—that have been incubators for hundreds of artistic careers.
The Core Fellowship gives energetic, motivated artists an opportunity to live, study, and work at Penland for two years. Core fellows work part-time for the school, performing tasks essential to its functioning. They receive room, board, studio space, a small stipend, and access to ?seven workshops each year, which they can choose from Penland’s 135 annual offerings. It is an exploratory program that lets talented makers test their ideas and aesthetics in various materials with the guidance of many different teachers. It also allows participants to develop useful life and leadership skills.
The Resident Artist Program provides self-supporting, full-time artists with low-cost housing and studio space and an opportunity to work in close proximity with other artists for three years. Designed for artists who are at transitional points in their careers, the program gives participants time and space to develop their studio practice, to work out the practicalities of making a living, to push technical and conceptual boundaries, or to explore entirely new directions in their work. Resident artists serve as an inspiration for Penland students, and they gain exposure and critical feedback through contact with instructors, collectors, visitors, and the local artist community.
The Resident Artist Program began in 1963; the Core Fellowship dates to 1970. Together they embody Penland’s deep and longstanding commitment to investing in the lives and work of artists. 

This exhibition celebrates the publishing of Inspired: Life in Penland’s Resident Arts and Core Fellowship Programs, a 190 page hardcover book about the history and impact of these programs. The book is available to purchase here.

You’ve got to know yourself so you can at last be yourself. —D. H. Lawrence

This exhibition celebrates the publication of Inspired: Life in Penland’s Resident Artist and Core Fellowship Programs and brings into one space recent work by 32 artists who spent formative years at Penland as part of one or both of these distinctive programs. The work is a testament to 53 years and 373 artists (and counting). These artists come to Penland with goals of new work, advanced careers, and increased clarity. Often what they find is quite the opposite—years of trial and error including creative dead ends, technical failures, temporary setbacks, crises of confidence, and lack of clarity—an enveloping fog that is, surprisingly and maddeningly, the true gift of each program. It is through the inherent murkiness of the creative process that each artist comes to truly know themselves. A residency, a fellowship at Penland offers the chance to dive deeply into the strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and particularities that together define who each of these artists and makers are and how they observe and translate the world around them. Simply put, they get to know themselves. And in so doing they learn to trust themselves enough to be who they are and make the work that only they can make. Clarity does come, but it takes its sweet time. It is a special privilege to watch this intimate evolution take place again and again. It is endlessly fascinating and, somehow, new every time.

Leslie Noell | Penland director of programs and former core fellow

List of Penland Core Fellows 1970-2017
List of Resident Artists 1963-2016

More information about the Core Fellowship Program
More information about the Resident Artist Program