Resident Artist Program FAQ

Penland Resident Artist Program Frequently Asked Questions


Do I have to have an existing connection to Penland, taken a class or taught there in order to apply?

No prior connection to the school is required to apply. Penland celebrates varied ideas, world views, and personal characteristics, and is 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. 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. For finalists who have not been to Penland, we will set up a conversation (and in some cases a visit to Penland) to make sure an artist’s expectations are consistent with what Penland has to offer.

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is July 12, 2023. We expect to have 4 openings in 2024 in all media except hot glass (because this studio is currently occupied).

When will applicants be notified of their status?

For each application cycle, we make every effort to notify applicants of their status two months after the application deadline.

When does a residency begin and end?

Three-year residencies will begin in March and end 2 years and 11 months after the start date. One-year residencies also begin in March and end 11 months after the start date. This gives us a month between residency groups to make needed improvements to apartments and studios.

Do you accept international applicants?

Yes, we accept international applicants. However, Penland is not a sponsoring organization. We are happy to offer a letter of invitation with details about the residency in support of a visa application, but it is the artist’s responsibility to work with their consulate to acquire the proper visa to be in the United States for one to three years (depending on the length of residency).

What kind of applicants are you looking for?

The program welcomes self-motivated, focused individuals working in traditional and nontraditional studio crafts. Residents must have a clear objective for their residency and be willing to live and work as part of a close-knit community. Resident artists work independently and set their own goals for their residencies. Their time is their own with few exceptions throughout the year. The creative director, gallery director, executive director, and other resources of the school are available to residents in a support capacity. However, this is a self-directed program; our expectation is that resident artists will take the initiative to enhance and supplement their experience at Penland. Residents are expected to find ways to meaningfully engage with the school either individually, as a group, or both.

Can I apply with a collaborator?

We accept applications from collaborating partners who will share a studio and housing. Please keep in mind that if you are applying as collaborators, you must apply together and your application will be reviewed as one. Your portfolio can include images of collaborative work as well as individual work from each artist.


What are the studios like?

The Resident Artist studios are clustered in and around a converted historic dairy barn and are located about half a mile down the road (a five minute walk) from Penland’s main campus. All studios have an open floor plan with one or two smaller areas for storage or dedicated use. Each studio is unique and each has its own idiosyncratic features in keeping with the age of the building and the fact that it wasn’t originally designed to be artists’ studios. Five of the studios are on the ground floor and have concrete floors; two of the studios are only accessible by stairs and have wood floors; each studio has a utility sink and access to a shared restroom. The average studio size is about 800 square feet. Each artist enjoys 24-hour access to their private studio.

Residents are responsible for outfitting their studios with equipment and tools relevant to their daily studio practice. Studios are not furnished, and each new resident will find a blank slate when they arrive. One-year residents must bring the tools and equipment they need to pursue their proposed project. Three-year residents bring everything they need to produce work and usually spend the first several weeks of their residencies setting up their studios before they begin to produce work. Our staff works closely with each new resident artist to make sure their studio meets basic needs in terms of utilities and safety; staff can also provide support for installing specialized or heavy equipment, accepting freight deliveries, and troubleshooting electrical or ventilation needs.

Do I have to pay rent for my studio? Do I have to pay utilities?

There are no rental or utility fees for studio space.

Can I use campus studios?

Residents are expected to work in their own studios at the Barns studio complex except when taking or teaching a Penland workshop or participating in a short-term Penland program (i.e. Winter Residency). However, use of the school’s teaching studios and equipment is a resource we do extend to residents (as well as staff and core fellows) when possible. Residents are encouraged to keep in mind and inquire about the following studio access opportunities:

  • Occasional use of tools and equipment they do not have in their own studio
  • Short-term access to equipment or facilities vital to the realization of a special project
  • Our teaching studios are rarely available in January and from March to November

Can I have a studio assistant?

Residents may have someone assist them with their work in their studio, but assistants cannot use the space to create their own work. We cannot provide them with housing, and any payment offered to an assistant is the responsibility of the resident artist.

Can I leave for prolonged periods of time to teach, work, or pursue other opportunities? Do long-term residents ever maintain full-time jobs?

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 the public to their studios throughout the year. Therefore, we ask that resident artists limit time away from their studios, especially during summer which is our busiest season for visitors.

We recognize that most artists need and want to dedicate some of their time to opportunities outside the studios, at Penland, and elsewhere. Three-year residents are encouraged to teach or take short workshops, participate in exhibitions, and take advantage of travel opportunities that will benefit personal and professional growth. Lengthy or repeated absences or time-consuming work commitments (i.e. full-time teaching assignments or “day jobs”) detract from the program and are not in line with the studio focus of the residency. Residents who are presented with an extraordinary opportunity that will cause an absence of more than a few weeks should discuss this with the creative director ahead of time to talk through expectations and develop a plan. One-year residencies are encouraged to prioritize time in their studios and at Penland whenever possible.

Are there opportunities or expectations to teach or work at Penland during my residency?

There is no work obligation for this residency. Resident artists who have an interest in teaching may reach out to the creative director with workshop proposals. Whenever possible we enjoy hiring resident artists to teach during their residencies, but this is not guaranteed or required. There are also occasional and short-term opportunities to help install exhibitions in the Penland Gallery or teach through our Community Collaborations program in our local community; these are initiated by each resident based on interest and experience, and we’re always happy to share information as opportunities come up.

Are there opportunities to sell my work or participate in exhibitions during my residency?

All resident artists are represented by the Penland Gallery; this is a non-exclusive arrangement and residents are encouraged to show elsewhere as well. The Penland Gallery welcomes a constant stream of visitors and collectors to their sales gallery on campus, hosts curated exhibitions throughout the year, and operates an online shop to extend their audience and market. Penland Gallery takes a 40% commission on sales of work by resident artists They also direct visitors towards the resident artist studios to encourage conversations and potential sales. Resident artists are more than welcome  to show and sell work directly through their studios; no commission is expected from studio sales.

Can I take classes at Penland during my residency?

To encourage technical, artistic, and professional development, resident artists are invited to enroll as a standby student in a 1-week or 2-week class once per year during their residency. Classes are tuition free, but only if the class is not filled one week before the start date. Other classes may be taken at the regular day-student rate or as part of Penland’s local stand-by program (with a 50% discount on tuition). For three-year residents, we offer one class tuition free and with priority enrollment if the resident enrolls before registration is open to the public.


Do I have to pay rent for my housing? Do I have to pay utilities?

There are no rental or utility fees for housing.

What is housing like?

There are two types of housing for our residents, and the type of apartment they are assigned depends on their needs and what is available when they begin their residency. We will do our best to accommodate each resident’s housing needs:

  • Barns Apartments: These three apartments are in a converted historic barn, so they are old and have characteristics in keeping with this history.  They are conveniently located across the driveway from the Barns (Resident Artists) Studios. Each apartment has three levels. The middle level of each unit has a bathroom and open floor plan kitchen and living area. There is a covered porch off of this level (shared with two other apartments). The lower level is connected to the main level by stairs and can be used as a bedroom, office, extra room, or storage. There is also a loft, connected to the main level by a sturdy ladder; the loft can be used as a bedroom or multi-use space.
  • Wyatt Apartments: These four open plan apartments are one level with one bedroom, one bathroom, and an open floor plan kitchen and living area. Each apartment has a laundry/storage closet and a small covered patio. They are clustered in two sets of two, and share an outdoor gathering area with picnic tables. There is one ADA accessible unit with a dedicated parking space.

Is housing available for my family?

We welcome partners, spouses, and children and expect them to share your housing. Most resident apartments have only one bedroom, so if you have a large or growing family we will talk with you about your housing needs during the interview process and create a plan that will work for your family.

Is the housing furnished?

Three-year residents are responsible for furnishing their own housing. We will work with one-year residents to lightly furnish their apartments as needed. All apartments have a small kitchen outfitted with a sink, refrigerator, oven/stove. Wyatt apartments each have a washer/dryer; Barns apartments have shared laundry facilities within a short walking distance (2 washers, 2 dryers shared by three apartments).

Do you allow pets?

Pets are permitted in resident housing with prior approval; any resident wishing to bring or acquire a pet must discuss this with the creative director and read the school’s pet policy once accepted. Chickens and livestock are not allowed.

Are meals provided?

Resident Artists and their households are welcome to eat two meals a day in the school dining hall when classes are in session (March–April, June–August, mid-September–mid-November). This is a great way to meet instructors and students and gather with the Penland campus community.


What is it like to live at Penland?

Penland can be described as a campus, a village, and a community of artists that extends into the area surrounding the school. Our campus includes over 400 acres of woods, meadows, and exquisite views. Residents live on one end of this campus, a 5-minute walk from central campus, and most daily needs are walkable or bikeable on roads and trails—the dining hall, coffee house, supply store, gallery. The area surrounding the school is home to over 100 professional craft artists, many of whom are affiliated with Penland. The nearby towns of Spruce Pine, Bakersville, and Burnsville are a short drive away (10-20 minutes by car) and offer amenities one might expect from any small town—grocery stores, gas stations, schools, a hospital, coffee shops, and a handful of restaurants.

Each year approximately 1,400 people come to Penland for instruction and another 14,000 pass through as visitors. Penland has no standing faculty; its instructors come to Penland from all over the US and abroad. Students live at Penland only while taking one of our immersive workshops (1-8 weeks in length). Our staff of over 60 employees work at the school year round and live in the surrounding community; resident artists and core fellows live on campus and work at the school year round.

What is the surrounding area like?

Penland is located in Mitchell County, NC, which offers the expansive beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the advantages and disadvantages of rural small town living. Mount Mitchell, Linville Falls, Spruce Pine, Bakersville, Burnsville, Marion, Morganton, Asheville, Boone, and Johnson City, TN, are within an hour’s drive. Charlotte is 120 miles to the southeast; Atlanta is 250 miles to the southwest.

Like most of Appalachia, Mitchell County is politically conservative and does not offer the cultural and racial diversity of urban areas.  Efforts are being made to enliven small town centers through galleries, studios, and small businesses, but it is an economically distressed community facing many of the challenges of its historic industries: mining, agriculture, and manufacturing.

I have kids. What types of childcare and schools are available nearby?

Mitchell County Public Schools
Spruce Pine Montessori School
Arthur Morgan School
Mitchell County Childcare Centers

Will my partner be able to find a job in the area?

Many residents come to Penland with a partner, and most partners also need to work. Those who work remotely find it easiest to make the move. Partners who are also practicing artists usually find studio space in the area surrounding Penland (or work from home); we can offer resources and contacts to help with a studio search. For those who are not self-employed and looking for work, we suggest a job search that includes Spruce Pine, Bakersville, Burnsville, and Marion (about a 20-minute commute from Penland) and Morganton, Asheville, Boone, and Johnson City, TN (about an hour commute from Penland). We also list open positions at Penland here.