The Penland Gallery will open its 2017 exhibition season with an exhibition of pieces by thirty-two artists working in many different styles and materials. What these artists have in common is that they are alumni of the Penland Core Fellowship or the Penland Resident Artist Program, and they are all featured in Inspired, a recently published book that documents the programs. The exhibition runs from March 28 through May 14 with an opening reception on Saturday, April 1 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM.
The exhibition will cover a broad spectrum of craft materials, including books, clay, glass, letterpress printing, jewelry, metals, papermaking, photography, textiles, wood, and mixed-media, plus a video about a community art project in Indianapolis led by sculptor Meredith Brickell. Although the artists come from different parts of the country and from Australia and Japan, the show includes works by a number of local artists including potter Stanley Mace Anderson, ceramic sculptor Cristina Córdova, book sculptor Daniel Essig, blacksmith Seth Gould, steel sculptor Hoss Haley, steel and book sculptor Andrew Hayes, mixed-media sculptors Anne Lemanski and Christina Shmigel, glass sculptor Mark Peiser, and Mitchell County native Ronan Peterson—a potter who now lives in Chapel Hill.
Included in the show is a dramatic steel and concrete chair made by Vivian Beer, who won last year’s grand prize on Ellen Degeneres’s HGTV show, Ellen’s Design Challenge. Jack Mauch will display a complex marquetry wall piece made from many dozen thin strips of wood veneer. Mark Peiser is presenting a remarkable piece cast from phase-separated glass, which shifts color tonality depending on how the light strikes. Daniel Essig created a fantastic wooden dragon that is adorned with tiny books.
The Penland Core Fellowship gives energetic, motivated artists an opportunity to live, study, and work at Penland for two years. Core fellows work part-time for the school, performing tasks essential to its functioning, and they participate in workshops, which they can choose from Penland’s 135 annual offerings. The Resident Artist Program provides self-supporting, full-time artists with low-cost housing and studio space and an opportunity to work in close proximity with other artists for three years. The artists included in the exhibition represent the whole history of these programs. Mark Peiser and weaver Adela Akers were resident artists in the 1960s, photographer Alida Fish was the first core fellow in 1970, and Seth Gould and Andrew Hayes are current resident artists. All of the artists are still active and most of the work was made recently.
The book Inspired: Life in Penland’s Resident Artist and Core Fellowship Programs includes the story of each program and conversations with the thirty-two artists accompanied by examples of their work. It is a beautiful presentation of contemporary craft and an exploration of the many life and career paths taken by these creative individuals. Copies of the book are available at the Penland Gallery. The Inspired exhibition takes place in the John and Robyn Horn Gallery. On display in the Focus Gallery is a smaller show titled Well-Designed Objects, which presents exquisitely crafted functional items including screenprinted hand towels and zippered bags, metal key chains, leather-bound journals, pewter cups, steel bottle openers, and much more. The Visitors Center Gallery has an ongoing display of objects that illuminate the history of Penland School. And the Lucy Morgan Gallery presents a selection of work by dozens of artists affiliated with the school.
The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center is located at Penland School of Crafts on Conley Ridge Road, just off Penland Road in Mitchell County (near the town of Spruce Pine). It is the first building on your right as you enter the Penland campus. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM and Sunday, Noon-5:00 PM; it is closed on Mondays. For more information call 828-765-6211 or visit penland.org/gallery.