October 4 – November 26, 2022

Tender, denoting softness, sensitivity, and care, provides passage for the wayward individual to find solace and unconditional comfort. In contrast to the harsh paradigm of a competition-obsessed society, tenderness encourages vulnerability and compassion between our fellow travelers, lovers, and friends. In this edition of Atkinson and Hoffman’s curatorial practice, Spectral Matter, Tender Presence seeks to bring together queer makers who instill, exemplify, or even resist the intimacy of tender interactions. Through this underlying theme, objects curated for the exhibition embody the softer side of human connection through their presence, potential use, and material qualities. 

This is the second exhibition curated by Adam Atkinson and Everett Hoffman under their curatorial project Spectral Matter, which started in 2019 to highlight emerging LGBTQ+ artists working with a focus on craft and material processes. Tender Presence has traveled to several galleries including Gallery 2052 in Chicago, IL, Alma’s Gallery in Richmond, VA, and culminates at the Penland Gallery.

October 14th  |  4:30 PM – 6:30 PM

Adam Atkinson and Everett Hoffman: Spectral Matter
October 19th |  Cancelled due to a scheduling conflict
Northlight – Penland School of Craft

Sulo Bee
Taylor Zarkades King
Vivian Chiu
Scott Vander Veen


A foundational principle for this exhibition is that objects intuit a presence deeply connected to the maker’s hand. In queer theorist Eve Sedgwick’s book, Touching Feeling, she portrays the emotional experience produced from an object as the relationship between texture (defined as literal or perceived physical qualities inviting touch) and affect (a psychological drive based on a history of experiences and material associations). In this case, specific craft and material processes are joined to the unique experiences of twelve queer artists seeking to portray tenderness. 

Kento Saisho, Mattie Hinkley, and Corey Pemberton all create vessels that invite use—however each object offers degrees of function and material associations producing different emotional outcomes. Combining texture and affect in varying degrees, what these artists bring to the table is not a stable definition of tenderness, but an open exploration of what has so often been overlooked or suppressed in the queer experience. 

Whether directly conveyed through subject matter or more implicitly through form and function, queer expressions such as protection, intimacy, or self-love are intrinsic to the tenderness of the presented work. In the case of J Taran Diamond’s Contact Poultice, a silicone hand is worn under clothing as a gesture of comfort and safety. As an act of autonomy and self-acceptance, Wyatt Nestor-Pasicznyk’s brooches depict trans individuals whose metamorphosed bodies are placed in poses of strength and resilience. Taylor Zarkades King’s More than that– just something uses floral printed bed sheets obsessively wrapped with string to create a matrixial net. In a subtle reference to the home, the intimate network of a lover’s bed is delicately hung from the wall. 

Presenting this exhibition at Penland, we are reminded of the history of this place where years ago Eve Sedgwick came to take a weaving workshop, and we recognize the many other queer artists who have come over the years and called it home. Queerness vibrates gently beneath the surface and resurfaces once more in Tender Presence. 

Spectral Matter is an ongoing curatorial project highlighting LGBTQIA+ individuals creating work with an emphasis on material investigations and Craft. As a platform centering on queerness, we intend to carve out space where non-normative voices can be expressed fearlessly and proudly, expanding the craft field. In queer fashion, the annual exhibition evolves to feature different themes including subversion, tenderness, community, and others. We are dedicated to showcasing a diversity of artists from different, and intersecting backgrounds including race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, religion, and many other closely-held life experiences.  

Adam Atkinson (he/him) is a metalsmith, curator, and educator. He received an MFA in Metal Design at East Carolina University in 2019, and a BFA in Interdisciplinary Studio Practices at Boise State University in 2013. Atkinson’s work documents relationships between gender and the body using adornment and small-scale sculpture as formats for exploration. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including the Wayne Art Center, Boone Art and History Museum, and Nagoya Zokei University, Nagoya, Japan, among others. Recent curatorial projects include Spectral Matter, an ongoing LGBTQIA+ exhibition platform, and Ripple Effect: 168. He has been awarded numerous residencies including the Emerging Artist Residency at the Baltimore Jewelry Center and is currently in the three-year residency at Penland School of Craft. He has been a faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University, Boise State University, and has taught workshops across the United States.


Everett Hoffman (he/him) is a cross-disciplinary artist, curator, and writer. He received his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University (2018), and BFA from Boise State University (2013). He has since completed residencies at Arrowmont School of Art and Craft (2018-19), as well as the Baltimore Jewelry Center (2019). Everett has written for the publications Metalsmith (2021) and Art Jewelry Forum (2018), and his work has been published in BmoreArt (2020) Metalsmith (2020) and Jewelry and Metalsmithing Survey (2017 and 2018).  His work has been exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Contemporary Craft Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, Soil Gallery, Seattle, WA, and the Benaki Museum in Athens Greece. He has since completed residencies at Arrowmont School of Art and Craft, as well as the Baltimore Jewelry Center. Everett is currently completing a three-year residency at Penland School of Craft.


Photo: Myles Pettengill

gallery@penland.org  |  828.765.6211  |  Tuesday – Saturday 11 AM – 5 PM