Penland Gallery exhibition showcases unconventional use of materials

"The Evocation and Capture of Aphrodite," by Ruth Miller, hand-embroidered wool on fabric, 36 x 30 inches.
"The Evocation and Capture of Aphrodite," by Ruth Miller, hand-embroidered wool on fabric, 36 x 30 inches.

Press release from Penland School of Crafts:

The year’s first exhibition at the Penland Gallery is a collection of work by artists who, in the words of gallery director Kathryn Gremley, “have erased dividing lines or untethered themselves from material and creative constraints.” Titled “I dwell in Possibility” after a poem by Emily Dickinson, the exhibition includes work in ceramic, glass, metal, painting, photography, printmaking, and wood with considerable mixing of media. The fifteen artists represented will be teaching workshops at Penland School of Crafts in 2018. The show runs through May 13 with an opening reception on Saturday, March 31 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM.

Walking into the exhibition, visitors will be greeted by a three-foot tall, precisely rendered image of a young woman—leaves and geometric shapes float by her in the foreground. The piece can easily be mistaken for a painting, but closer inspection reveals that it is made entirely from embroidery thread. The artist, Ruth Miller, spends about a year stitching one of these pieces.

Photographer Dan Estabrook is represented by a series of tintypes, which are images created on a metal plate. Although tintypes have traditionally been treated simply as a type of photograph, this artist has chosen to also approach them as metal objects. Using a jeweler’s saw, he carefully cuts up different tintypes and recombines them to create metal collages.

A cast-iron teapot by Frankie Flood, who is a faculty member at Appalachian State University, has a surface texture that looks like the inner surface of tree bark, while the surface of a wooden platter by Matthew Hebert has been carved into a 3D image of a manhole cover. And an animated video by Noah Saterstrom is accompanied by several of the paintings he used to create it. These are just some of the wonders and possibilities presented in this exhibition.

Also on view in the Focus Gallery, is a small exhibition, titled “GATHER | Eat, Drink, Enjoy,” which showcases elegant, functional glassware by Courtney Dodd and Nickolaus Fruin. 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 Penland-affiliated artists. On display outside the Penland Gallery are large sculptures in stone and steel by Hoss Haley, Carl Peverall, and Daniel T. Beck.

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 the 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.

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