Penland School of Crafts hosts contemporary glass exhibit through Sept. 16

"Girl With a Hat" by Dean Allison
"Girl With a Hat" by Dean Allison. Photo courtesy of the Penland School of Crafts

Press release from the Penland School of Crafts:

Alchemy was an early science famous for its attempts to turn lead into gold. Today, it’s used to describe miraculous transformations. This makes Alchemy a fitting title for the current Penland Gallery exhibition of work by artists using glass in remarkable ways. The exhibition runs through September 16, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 4, from 4:30-6:30 PM.

Glass is a material with almost limitless artistic possibilities. The twelve artists in this exhibition create create objects of mystery and complexity by working with the material’s chemical makeup, its optical properties, its ability to hold incredible detail, and the possibilities of layering and combining multiple processes.

Mark Peiser, who lives near Penland School, is represented in the show by two cast forms. They are made from glass that separates light into different colors so the apparent color of the pieces can change depending on how they are lit. Nickolaus Fruin’s vessels, by contrast, are completely clear but have visible patterns created by combining different formulations of clear glass that each refract light a bit differently.

Penland resident artist Dean Allison has several three-dimensional portraits included in the show. His complex process begins with a rubber impression of his model’s head. After many intermediate steps, the end result is a detailed bust cast from colored glass. Nearby is Amber Cowan’s piece: an intricate assembly of glass leaves and flowers sculpted from recycled commercial glass waste and incorporating several vintage glass objects. Also on display are several pieces by Kit Paulson, one of which is a flexible snake made from hundreds of linked glass rings. These are just some of the wonders that are waiting for visitors to Alchemy, which is part of the regional Summer of Glass. For information about all of the glass activities in the area, visit

Running concurrently with this exhibition is a smaller show of contemporary jewelry titled Wear that includes work by artists who use materials in new ways to create exceptional wearable pieces. 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 view outside the Penland Gallery are large sculptures in stone and steel by Daniel T. Beck, Hoss Haley, and Carl Peverall, plus a structure designed by artist Meredith Brickell that invites visitors to stop for a few minutes and observe the clouds.

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

About Community Bulletin
Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.