Thursday, July 09, 2009

So, Penland was awesome. Some things were a little strange, some things were amazing, and overall, it was a great experience. To start with, when this is the view from the studio windows, it's hard to have a really bad day. I also lucked out on the dorm room space - I managed to snag a semi-private cubby with great natural light that had almost this exact same view. Just a little more to the left. The textiles studio we were in was on the third floor of the aptly named Loom House, and my dorm was on the third floor of the building right next door. I climbed a lot of stairs during those two weeks. One of the things Penland is known for is keeping everyone well fed - the food is fresh, amazing, and extremely abundant. There was always a gigantic bowl of fresh berries at breakfast every morning, and there was a lot of bacon. The bacon is infamous - apparently it has caused vegetarians to fail. And it was fed to us nearly once a day, if not at breakfast, then in sandwiches at lunch or on meatloaf at dinner. Between the near-constant eating and all of the walking outdoors (each discipline has its own building, none of which are connected), I left tan, fat, and mosquito-bitten. (Relatively speaking, of course; I am rather pale and skinny to begin with.)

Since the 4th of July fell over the weekend when no classes were happening, they held their annual celebration on the 1st instead. Again, they are apparently known for this - other artists, their families, and people from the nearby towns all came over to sit on the hill and enjoy the spectacle. It starts with a parade, for which most of the classes had made floats. Imagine what happens when you give tacit permission for art and craft students to be crazy and creative with a parade display...yeah. This was the 80th anniversary of the school's opening, so there were several tributes to Lucy Morgan, the founder. (The gentleman in the black is Edward Worst, the first visiting weaving expert she brought in to teach.)

Here is another Miss Lucy, created by one of the clay classes, waving to her fans.

On the left is Ariel, one of my classmates; she won the prize for "most random" with this hat she made in class. Among other things, the hat is covered in industrial earplugs, which, randomly, happen to glow in the dark! The trophy she won was a gigantic decorated glass goblet filled with gumballs.

This next group is the flameworking (as opposed to blown) glass class with instruments (etc?!?) that they made in class. The glass trumpet in front? Plays real music. And it sounded good!

And here is the other clay class; they made gigantic Thai clay pots. So,
of course, (?!?) they did a tribute to Michael Jackson, with a choreographed dance routine and everything.

Finally, the printmaking class created shirts and a banner for their own ragtag drum corps; the shirts were such a hit that they gave in to public demand and made some to sell on the
final day. Their tag line was "the Wonder of Penland", and the backdrop of the shirt is a slice of wonder bread. Instead of throwing candy to the crowd, they threw bread...they had run slices of Wonder bread through the press and printed various designs on the flattened slices. Each slice had written on the back, "Do not eat this bread!"

After the parade, ice cream and fireworks were enjoyed by all. Our class? We sat on our blanket, drank champagne out of plastic flutes, and laughed through the entire evening.


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