Although a conversation generally happens between two people, it’s certainly possible for artwork sharing the same space to suggest a dialogue. That’s the premise of the “Conversation” series of two-person shows at the Penland Gallery. This year’s entry is titled Conversation|What Remains, and it features work by artists Rachel Meginnes and Kelly O’Briant. Meginnes works primarily in textiles and O’Briant in ceramics, but neither of them limit their work to traditional materials. The exhibition runs from October 3 through November 19 with a reception on Saturday, October 7 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM.
Rachel Meginnes is a former Penland resident artist who creates striking and soulful artwork from found textiles combined with various materials and processes. The pieces in this exhibition all began as vintage quilts—some were made from the quilt top while many were created from the compressed and stitched batting that’s inside the quilt. Meginnes works on these surfaces with paint, gold leaf, image transfers, stitching, sanding, and other materials and techniques to make pieces that suggest abstract paintings but retain traces of the patterning, colors, and wear patterns of the original quilt. She transforms these old, discarded textiles into compelling objects that evoke memory, loss, and the past.
Although Kelly O’Briant’s work is rooted in her experience as a maker of functional pottery, she has been creating complex forms and installations that incorporate references to functional objects. Central to this show is her piece All the Good Things, in which dozens of gold-lustered porcelain bowls containing porcelain seed forms sit on porcelain objects that resemble concrete blocks. O’Briant says that the seeds represent her migratory life and the generosity of the people she has encountered along the way. Another series traps familiar pottery forms in blocks of resin while a third is a group of small porcelain houses marked with pressed outlines of household utensils. Like Meginnes’s wall pieces, these objects display their own history. The work of these two artists will fill the Penland Gallery’s main exhibition space, and the hope is that a lively conversation will ensue.
Also on display, in the Focus Gallery, will be a group of sleek utilitarian objects made from steel by Marc Maiorana. Outside the building is a stone sculpture by Carl Peverall, a monumental steel sculpture by Hoss Haley, and a recently created installation made of manipulated natural materials by Susan Goethel Campbell. The Visitors Center Gallery has an ongoing display of work related to Penland’s history. The Penland Gallery also has work for sale by several hundred artists affiliated with Penland School of Crafts.
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.