Exhibition List 2023

2023 EXHIBITIONS | John & Robyn Horn Gallery and FOCUS Gallery


ELUSIVE WORLDS | Justin Rothshank and Heinrich Toh

February 28 – April 1, 2023

This exhibition features work by Justin Rothshank and Heinrich Toh; two artists who use layered imagery to evoke elusive worlds full of memory and longing. 

Justin Rothshank’s functional ceramics combine custom-made metallic luster and floral decals, particularly a ubiquitous red poppy, with atmospheric, wood-fired surfaces. The result is a collection of eccentrically dreamy mugs, bowls, and vases that reflect Rothshank’s interest in both the natural environment where he lives and the larger social justice movements of his surrounding world. Through imagery, form, and surface, Rothshank’s ceramics capture the beauty, energy, fuel, and resources provided by his Indiana land. Deadfall wood is harvested to fire his kilns, and the surfaces are decorated with ash and flame created within the kiln during the firing process. The poppy flower represents remembrance and honor for those who have served, the artist’s opposition to war, and his interest in working towards positive social change through relationship building. 

Heinrich Toh’s unique works on paper synthesize multiple printmaking techniques into a single image. Monotype, paper-lithography, and collagraph processes are combined to create images that explore the complexities of travel, displacement, and longing. Originally from Singapore, Toh produces works that blur the boundaries between Western and Eastern cultures. His rich layers of color, abstract patterning, and representational imagery combine modern and traditional imagery with overlapping cultural elements. The floral imagery is derived from silk brocade and sarong fabric from his Perankan heritage, while the tree lines, taken from National Parks, underscore the definition of ‘home’ here in the United States.


WITNESS | holding time

March 28 – June 4, 2023
Opening Reception  |  Friday March 31st, 4:30-6:30PM

Time as an abstraction—a moment or an eternity—visualized by six artists. 

Participating artists Dan Bailey, Marianne Dages, Morgan Hill, Erica Iman, Kento Saisho, and Amy Tavern, with works in video, photography, book arts, textiles, ceramics, painting, steel, and paper. 



COLOR | Mary Carroll, Rojer Serpas, Alyssa Salomon + Gretchen Carder

April 18 – May 20, 2023

COLOR is a group exhibition, featuring a collection of work by ceramicist Mary Carroll, glass artist Rojer Serpas, and the collaborative screenprinter/quilter team of Alyssa Salomon and Gretchen Carder. Color has the ability to spark recollection, inspire pleasure, and energize. Mary Carroll creates nostalgic ceramics that employ a retro color palette and are inspired by graphics found on her dad’s old tank tops and vinyl albums. Rojer Serpas makes playful, hand blown glassware meant to spark a smile and bring joy into people’s homes. Screenprinter Alyssa Salomon and quilter Gretchen Carder combine their talents to create radiant, vibrantly patterned quilts that express their exuberant interest in bold color. For everyone who shares a love for everyday functionality and the power of color, this exhibition is for you.


THE SWEDISH CONNECTION | Tobias Birgersson and Andrew Hayes

June 6 – July 8, 2023

In 2019, Swedish artist Tobias Birgersson and North Carolina artist Andrew Hayes started a conversation, making plans to work together in Sweden. As the pandemic sealed the world’s borders, Tobias and Andrew instead found ways to work remotely, ultimately forming a relationship that illuminated their artistic practices and reactions to a drastically changing world. In early 2022, Andrew traveled to Stockholm to meet Tobias in person for the first time. After touring Stockholm’s museums and artist studios, the two artists convened at Metal Art Sweden in Dals Langed, a remote forested town, to work on the studio component of their collaboration. Following this in-person residency, Tobias and Andrew have continued to pass ideas back and forth while working in their respective studios.

THE SWEDISH CONNECTION includes drawings, sculptural shelves, and a large steel and paper sculpture – evidence of a multi-year, collaborative conversation that is sure to continue in the years to come.

Kim Cridler
Lisa A. Frank
Nancy Blum


wild and precious life

June 20  – September 2, 2023

On view, this summer in the Penland Gallery’s John & Robyn Horn exhibition gallery,  wild and precious life. The exhibition features the work of three highly respected artists with sculptural works in steel, works on paper, and photography. 

Kim Cridler’s studio practice focuses on the fabrication of sculptural forms in metal, creating delicate compositions that explore our fragile relationship with the natural world. Cridler writes, “My practice is inspired by the patterns of nature and the way objects can record and extend our lives. My work, based on familiar forms like trees and vessels, argues for the pleasure found in beauty, and the power of material and form. Using a process that is accumulative and direct, joining small parts together into a larger body, I work to create a sense of movement within still objects. Within this structured movement, there resides the potential for change. These works serve as a reminder of our place in the natural world; no matter how carefully we construct and manage our daily experiences, life will not leave us alone or untouched by change.”

Brooklyn-based artist Nancy Blum is well known for her large-scale botanical drawings, sculptures, and public art commissions. For this exhibition Blum works on paper, rendering bold and lush botanical landscapes which she describes as her intent to conjure the ‘flower’ as an active, forceful agent, subverting a point of view that often places the ephemeral and organic as less powerful and of limited value.  The artist writes, “My large‐scale works on paper, rendered in ink, colored pencil, gouache, and graphite, portray a fantastic realm in which flowers own the space. I use a variety of 16th and 17th-century botanical images, from Chinese plum blossoms to German botanicals, as starting points for each drawing. Rather than alluding to an actual landscape, I instead combine species of plants in the same drawing that would not customarily exist together in nature.”

Photographer Lisa A. Frank will be showing images from her recent series Captive Splendor. In November 2020, Frank began a project photographing animals living in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in the United States. Her intention was to stage these animals within images of the Thorne Miniature Rooms that are on permanent exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, to create updated natural history dioramas that juxtaposed the wild with the cultivated. “The rooms become intimate performance settings waiting for a narrative to unspool. Now—even for an instant—we can breathe life into them with a story and characters of our own making.” The Thorne Miniature Rooms have been reimagined as a gallery of natural history dioramas, all populated with digital taxidermy. They have been newly anointed with contemporary discomfort.

The thread that ties these three artists together is their ability to narrate the boundaries and edges of our coexistence with nature.



WEAR | Contemporary Jewelry

July 25 – August 26, 2023

The Penland FOCUS Gallery presents WEAR, our annual exhibition exploring current interpretations and material usage in the field of contemporary jewelry.  The exhibition includes both emerging and established makers from throughout the US.  

Participating artists: Adam Atkinson, Lynn Batchelder, Suyu Chen, Funlola Coker, Kat Cole, Aminata Conteh, Tanya Crane, Janna Gregonis, Charity Hall, Julia Harrison, Morgan Hill, Everett Hoffman, Mi-Sook Hur, Maya Kini, Tara Locklear, Lydia Martin, Robert Thomas Mullen,  Jina Seo, Katja Toporski, Devyn Vasquez, Francesca Vitali,  Laura Wood, Dongyi Wu


MOTION CAPTURE | Yael Braha and Bridget Conn

September 19 – October 21, 2023

This exhibition features work by Yael Braha and Bridget Conn; two artists who capture motion within physical form. 

Yael Braha creates functional ceramics with bold black and white designs. Lines, curves, and patterns both distort and add movement to the surface of her work while physical seams – where two clay slab edges meet – create contrast and tension within the form. The way the graphic patterns are cut, assembled, overlapped and framed produces a stimulating visual experience while the surface pattern reliefs provide an equally interesting tactile one. Braha’s ceramic pieces are illusions of movement that you can hold, touch, and use. 

In an increasingly digitized world, Bridget Conn celebrates the physicality of analog photography through the medium of photographic chemigrams. Created without a camera or negatives, Conn’s chemigrams are made by exposing silver gelatin photo paper to light, resists, and traditional darkroom chemistry. The pieced and sewn images in this exhibition begin as an exploration of gestural marks made by drawing through resists on photographic paper. Through the process of cutting these chemigrams into strips and piecing them back together again with sewing thread, Conn introduces structure to her intuitive mark making, highlights the materiality of her images, and gives emphasis to the edges where one captured motion meets another.





October 3 – December 9, 2023

Presenting material explorations by work and life partners Naomi Dalglish and Michael Hunt, this exhibition frames their functional ceramic forms as a process of investigation. Viewed as a group, the individual pieces are seen as a study of line, form, and surface. Their holistic practice draws on the material qualities of locally dug red earth and wood-fired pottery, creating visually potent work.