The spring and summer of 2020 at Penland can only be described as surreal. At what is normally the most active and populated time of year, we find ourselves to be a lone group of seven artists working in proximity to only a handful more on campus. Morning walks past the Pines are quiet without the hum of students. The night view is distinctly less bright without the glow of studio lights on the mountain. It feels a bit upside down, a bit dreamlike.
To capture the surreal nature of our days, we have created a series of photographs documenting our work on Penland’s campus. Each photo captures the dense, textured, richness we feel as resident artists living and working at the school. We offer these images as records of our experience and as representations of our belief that craft connects us to each other and to our communities. Collectively, craft has shaped our lives and has provided balance and grounding during these unsettling times.
The practice of craft rewards ingenuity, persistence, and passion. Through close observation and skilled hands, we each have chosen to build a life in making. On a good day, this pursuit feels improbable — during a pandemic, it feels tenuous at best. But, where would we be without creative minds to imagine new futures? Without the perseverance to push forward? The past five months of crisis have taught us that the skills we learn as artists and creative thinkers are even more valuable in this moment. We rally around craft as a path for resilience through the continued act of choosing to work with our hands.