Sunday, June 21, 2009

Penland '09 (in IV Acts)

Sorry I have been so neglectful about posting all about my numerous summer adventures! Things have been crazy here in Nora-land... but I promise, much reminiscing and story-telling-via-blogging will be had over the next few weeks. Let's start with Penland!

PENLAND! (That's right- I said V (five, 5) Acts... 'cause any less wouldn't do it justice.)

Act I: Penland- the Place

Penland Mountain School of Craft is beautifully situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. (It's about an hour outside of Ashville.) The buildings that make up the campus are all gorgeous, historic structures... that are cock full of studios and creative people. Arriving there was like arriving in Rivendell... if Rivendell was full of artists and beer! It was pretty awesome!
This is pretty much the view from my studio. !!! I was in suck sock... not culture shock exactly... but location shock. I think of myself as being a woodsy type of girl but... having spent the last few years almost exclusively in the city, all of a sudden being surrounded by trees and plants (and poison ivy) was sooo shocking. And fantastic!

The building with the work study dorms (the Craft House) had this amazing porch with wooden rocking chairs. I actually wish I'd had more free time so that I could have relaxed on this porch more.

And every surface was covered with art! Every day I discovered another amazing hidden pocket of art. It's the perfect location to get totally immersed in your art.

Act II: Life as Penland Workstudy Student

In order to afford my studies, I was offered a work study scholarship which meant that I slept in a shared dorm and was given a job to perform every day. The dorm somewhat resembled a make-shift WWII hospital: just a row of beds separated by curtains. (Really not as bad as it sounds... I didn't end up getting that much sleep anyway.) And my job? Pots and dishes. !! Do you know how many pots and dishes are used to make food for 200 people!? A TON! I swear, I was armpit deep in cauldron-sized pots for 2hrs after 2 meals a day! The skin on my hands immediately started peeling off (they're still, 4 weeks later, pretty dry! Dish Lepracy!) But it wasn't unenjoyable at all! There's a sort of instant comradery that's established between the kitchen work studies students... Plus, it was like we got to have 2 hot, wet, sweaty dance parties every day! (I can't believe I have zero pictures of me head and shoulders inside a pot but... apparently we were all too busy to take photos.)
I made some amazing friends pretty instantly:

(Sasha, ceramics; Amanda, lithography; Shawn, books (and griping); not pictured: Anna, lithography; Arthur, ceramics.)

And we spent a lot of time hanging out :

(looking for the llamas), going to Asheville:

(and getting lost in Tennessee), swimming (and avoiding the poison ivy) and visiting eachother's studios:

(clearly getting a lot of work done). The Core students (students who live at Penland, taking classes and working in the studio for 2 whole years) also provided us all with some brilliant

Getting ready for the Andy Warhol Factory Dance Party!

Artists have the best costumes. They're the Marilyn Monroe print! Get it?

Drugged up floozy, rich patroness and crazy lesbian Valorie Solanas. (Holla to my feminist reading group! That's right, I'm carrying a copy of the SCUM manifesto and a bubble gun with which to shoot Andy. YES!) There are a whole bunch more photos but they're a little too incriminating for the internet. Hahaha... oh, good times.

Act III: My Penland Class

The class that I took was titled "Alternative Clothing and Pocketology" with Jan Ru Wan. It was an amazing mixture of specialized instruction on sewing perfect pockets and creative, intuitive art making.

One of Jan Ru's assignments was, and I'm not kidding you, to find a 4 leaf clover every day of the session. !! We were supposed to bring the clovers to class so that we could put them in our sketchbooks. We were also supposed to keep a journal about how we felt while we were searching. Our class become both the crazy pocket class AND the class that was always out in the field looking for 4 leaf clovers. But we found a surprising number of them by the end of the session!
(Shawn and me looking for clovers.)

Our other assignments were more pocket based. We were instructed to bring a complete men's suit, which we then took apart seam by seam. We were supposed to explore the intracacies of tailoring, be inspired by the nuances of the fabric and history of the suit itself. And most of my classmates were. Unfortunately, having taken apart quite a few suits in my artschool career, I found myself a little less awed than my classmates. So I instead poured my creative juices into the next step of the process: build a new object or garment from the deconstructed suit pieces.

(The studio in action.)
Act IV: My Art Work

So, I plan on doing a little bit more writing and posting a much more elaborate blog entry on this piece after I've had some better photos taken, but here's the short story of how my Armadillo suit came into being.

As I mentioned before, I was in complete shock over being in the woods... especially because I really don't consider myself a city girl. So, I was thinking a lot about human animality and how that animality manifests itself in our actions and our clothing. Some animals have their protection built into their bodies: turtles have shells, armadillos have scales and apparently lepracy. The suit, a symbol of conservativism, professionalism, business... was at complete odds with my current location and in the way i was thinking about myself. Also... because of a certain housing crisis (my not actually having one) the idea of an animal being inately imbibed with their own home was especially interesting to me.
I started by creating a repeat image of scales or shells and printing it on the suit pieces.

Then, I built a jacket.

Referring back to the animal-defenses, the shape and structure of the jacket is determined by the contents of it's pockets. With huge, balloon pockets at the hips and tiny pockets in the shoulders, the sillhouette of the body gets larger and more intimidating the more stuff that gets stashed. My thinking was that the act of stashing stuff into pockets would become a visual manifestation of anxiety: the more anxious you were, the more stuff you would need on your person, the larger and more obvious your anxiety would become. There was also a secret zip pocket back pack behind the razor back panel.

Unfortunately, all the photos of me IN the suit make me look like a crazy person, so I'm not going to post them. Again, once I get some better photos, I promise I'll post something longer. :0)

Act V: Loooot

The trading potentials were endless. I printed a bunch of armadillo iron-on patches and traded them with the other artists like legal tender!

I got a bunch of great ceramics, some great lithograph prints, some jewelry, some photo prints... now all I need is a home to hang things in! And, in the process of trading, I made connections with some truly amazing artists and craftspeople. Check out the newest additions on my etsy favorite's page to see some of their work!

Oooh... le Sigh. That was long. Ok, so basically I could never explain all of the amazing fun times I had at Penland. But thanks for reading!

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