Resident Artist Program

Penland Resident Artist Program

Penland’s Resident Artist Program is designed for artists who are at a pivotal moment in their career—the residency is an opportunity for them to test ideas and take risks that will have a lasting effect on their work and their lives. Resident artists may use the time 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. They come to Penland to focus on a proposed project or objective that will be informed and inspired by Penland’s local and extended craft community.

The primary expectation of resident artists is that they engage intently with their work. They are also expected to have an open door policy, welcoming students, instructors, and other visitors to their studios, both informally and formally. They join our larger school community during meal times each session and are also welcome to visit workshops, attend slide lectures, and to participate in all aspects of life at the school. The school hosts educational workshops from March through November and a short Winter Residency in January, so this is our season of visitors and activity. Residents enjoy interludes of quieter, more focused studio time when the school pauses between programs.


Resident artists work independently and set their own goals for their residencies. They do this, however, in an atmosphere of encouragement surrounded by a community of makers. Their studios and living spaces are clustered so that interaction with other resident artists is inevitable. All resident artists are represented by the Penland Gallery, and they are also encouraged to show and sell work directly through their studios. Living at Penland also means they are surrounded by the many working craftspeople who live nearby as well as the national and international Penland community.


Resident artists are selected through a competitive process that draws applications from all over the country. At the end of their residency, some Penland resident artists move on to other residencies or decide to pursue teaching careers, but the great majority of them continue as studio artists and build on the work they started at Penland.

Qualifications and Review Process

We encourage self-motivated, focused individuals working in traditional and nontraditional studio crafts to apply for a residency. No prior connection to the school is required to apply. Penland celebrates varied ideas, world views, and personal characteristics, and are committed to being an organization that welcomes and respects everyone regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, race, religion, philosophical or political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, nationality, geographic origin, and socioeconomic status.


We are committed to advancing equity at Penland and within the craft field. We recognize that though many of our programs serve a diverse group of artists, our Resident Artist Program does not reflect the world and field we want to see. We are currently reorganizing the program with the following goals:


  • To build a multicultural residency that shapes the future of contemporary craft by creating opportunity and visibility to innovative artists with a range of perspectives and goals
  • To recognize artists whose work shows creativity, innovation, and skill; are actively engaged in professional artistic practices; and are committed to proposing and prioritizing a project or objective that can be well supported by a residency at Penland
  • To offer financial relief—in the form of housing, studio, and utilities— to directly support studio artists as they make a formative leap in their work and career


Applications are reviewed by a national committee of artist peers, curators, educators, and other arts professionals who are knowledgeable about material-based work and the craft field in general and/or understand what it takes to be successful in a self-directed residency. Committee members rotate frequently to bring new perspectives to the application process.


All media taught at Penland are considered appropriate for the Resident Artist Program: books, clay, drawing/painting, glass, letterpress, iron, metals, papermaking, photography, printmaking, textiles, wood. Most resident studios are not media specific; however, the particular qualities of the available studios and the balance of media represented by the current group of resident artists sometimes limits each year’s openings to a range of media. Please note: we cannot accommodate writers, dancers, or musicians.


The experience of living at Penland is shaped in many ways by its rural location, its mountainous terrain, and by the age and nature of the facility. A successful residency depends in part on expectations consistent with what Penland has to offer.

"The Barns" resident artist studios at Penland


Penland encourages interaction between residents and its other programs. This may include giving an occasional demonstration for a Penland workshop, hosting a group of students or visitors for a studio visit, mentoring a core fellow, participating in a fundraising event, or simply getting to know students and instructors while they’re at Penland. Residents are asked to host an open studio evening during each Penland session (about seven throughout the year) and to maintain an open door policy at their studios during work hours. They participate in the annual benefit auction and are encouraged to participate in resident group exhibitions and other events on campus and elsewhere as they arise. There is no teaching obligation, but for those interested, there are many short-term opportunities.

Cost to Resident Artists

  • There is no cost to residents for housing, studio space, or utilities.
  • Artists are responsible for providing tools and equipment vital to their daily studio practices; resident artist studios are simply raw studio spaces. 
  • Artists are responsible for travel expenses to and from Penland


As we reorganize the Resident Artist Program, we do not anticipate having any openings in 2023, so we will not be reviewing applications next year. Our next application cycle, exact date to be determined, will introduce a new application form, new options for potential residents, and an updated timeline for applications and residencies. We appreciate your patience as we work to assess and improve this program.

To Apply

If you are interested in the program, want to learn more about it, and/or are thinking about applying in the future, more detailed information can be found here: Resident Artist Program FAQ

If you have questions related to the Resident Artist Program, you can direct them to:

Leslie Noell, creative director