Penland Resident Artist Program Frequently Asked Questions
APPLICATION AND SCHEDULE
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 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. 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?
We are not currently accepting applications for this program; we expect our next application deadline to be in January 2025.
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. (If the deadline is January 15, we notify candidates by March 15)
When does a three-year residency begin and end?
We are in the process of assessing this timeline. In the past, three-year residencies began in the fall (9 months after the application deadline) and ended 2 years and 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, if accepted it is the artist’s responsibility to work with their consulate to acquire the proper visa to be in the United States for three years. Unfortunately, Penland is not a sponsoring organization, but we are happy to offer a letter of invitation with details about the residency in support of a visa application.
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 very 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; the assumption of the program 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 or 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.
STUDIO + STUDIO LIFE
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 individual studio.
Residents are responsible for outfitting their studios with equipment and tools relevant to their daily studio practice. Studios are currently not furnished, and each new resident will find a blank slate when they arrive. Long-term residents 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 addressing electrical or ventilation needs. We are currently assessing the ability of these studios to support resident artists and may make changes before the next application cycle.
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 with one exception; we are working on a long-range plan for glassblowers who may require propane in an amount that exceeds what we consider to be an equitable benefit for all residents. We will develop a plan with each glass resident to minimize this cost as much as possible.
Can I use campus studios?
Residents are expected to primarily work in their studios at the Barns studio complex except when taking or teaching a Penland class 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 opportunities:
- Short-term use of equipment you do not have in your own studio
- 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?
You may have someone assist you with your work in your studio, but they 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, both informally and formally through the year. Therefore, we ask that resident artists limit time away from their studios, especially during the 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. Long-term 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.
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 a one-, two-, six-, or eight-week workshop during their residencies, but this is not guaranteed or required. There are also occasional and short-term opportunities to teach or volunteer through our Community Collaborations program and 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. The 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, long-term resident artists are invited to enroll in a 1-week or 2-week class once per year during their residency. One of these three classes is tuition-free and includes priority enrollment; the other two 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).
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 long-term residents. The type of apartment you are assigned depends on what is available when you begin your 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 once you are accepted and make a plan that will work for your family.
Is the housing furnished?
Residents are responsible for furnishing their own housing. 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.
COMMUNITY + LOCAL AREA
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, Baskerville, 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.
Mitchell County is an economically distressed community that has evolved around the industries of mining, agriculture, and manufacturing. Efforts are being made to enliven small town centers through galleries, studios, and small businesses, but like most of Appalachia, the county is politically conservative and does not offer the cultural and racial diversity of urban areas.
I have kids. What types of childcare and schools are available nearby?
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.
Much of this information is taken directly from our Resident Artist Handbook. If you would like to dig a little deeper, please feel free to check it out.