Welcome to the first-ever episode of the Artsville Podcast, where we celebrate American contemporary arts and crafts from Asheville, North Carolina, and beyond! Today, Not Real Art’s Scott "Sourdough" Power is joined by Louise Glickman and Daryl Slaton from the Sand Hill Artists Collective (SHAC) to introduce you to Mia Hall and Robin Dreyer, the Executive Director and Communications Manager of the Penland School of Craft, an international center for craft education dedicated to helping people live creative lives.
Located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the Penland school of craft offers immersive workshops along with artist residencies, a gallery and visitors’ center, and a variety of community programs. Tuning in, you’ll learn why Penland is an integral part of the history of art and craft in Asheville and Mia and Robin weigh in on the age-old art versus craft debate (spoiler alert: it’s not as black and white as you may think!) We also touch on Mia’s mission to “turn Penland inwards,” how the campus fosters a sense of community, and gain some insight into Penland’s robust scholarship program, as well as how the school seeks to foster a spirit of inclusivity and accessibility for all. For all this and so much more, make sure to join us for this episode of Artsville!
“I see it as my job to turn Penland inwards. We’ve focused outwards for a very long time and put a lot of time and effort into making the school what it is. It is uniquely situated to turn that lens inwards and what I mean by that is to focus on the people who work here, who come here to study, to live here and create here. We have not been as diverse and as open to underserved populations as we should have [been] and that has been plaguing the whole craft field for a long time and Penland as well. Right now, it’s time for us to look at how we can change and how we can make Penland more accessible, how we can remove some barriers and be more inviting.” — Mia Hall [0:16:12]
“There is a legitimate fear that maybe I’ll get [to Penland] and everyone else will be better than me and I’ll feel bad, but we do what we can to counteract this because we really do welcome everybody and we really do welcome beginners into almost all of our workshops. We have very few that, because of their technical nature, they are [at an] intermediate level but, mostly, we list our workshops as ‘all levels’, which means that beginners are absolutely welcome.” — Robin Dreyer [0:32:49]
Key Points — Penland School Of Craft Episode:
- How the Penland School Of Art is essential to the legacy of art and craft in Asheville.
- An introduction to Mia and Robin and their roles at Penland.
- The distinctive structure of Penland and why they historically do not have a faculty.
- Art versus craft: Mia weighs in on the fundamental differences (and similarities).
- Robin on why he believes that art and craft exist on a continuum.
- Mia’s mission as Executive Director to turn Penland inwards and focus on accessibility.
- Some of the obstacles she has to overcome to make the school more inviting.
- Get an idea of what it feels like to visit the Penland campus from Robin.
- How the layout of the campus itself fosters a sense of community.
- Learn how occupancy and class size has been thoughtfully considered.
- Insight into the application process and Penland’s robust scholarship program.
- Robin reflects on Penland as an inclusive rather than an exclusive organization.
- Hear about their new gallery and visitors’ center and how it promotes their program.
- Celebrating the patrons, donors, board, and selfless instructors of Penland.
- Mia and Robin share their favorite stories from their time at the school.
- Parting thoughts from Robin on the power of craft and continuous learning.
“I get the question: why are you teaching photography at a craft school? The answer is always that there is craft in all art making.” — Mia Hall [0:08:21]
“There’s something in the actual makeup of the [Penland] campus that fosters a sense of community.” — Robin Dreyer [0:23:54]
“We really believe that the Penland experience is for everyone.” — Mia Hall [0:30:54]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Mia Hall on LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/mia-hall-112b4011/
- Mia Hall on Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/penland_director/
- Robin Dreyer on LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/robin-dreyer-7180b9129/
- Robin Dreyer on Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/robinrdreyer/
- Penland School of Craft — https://penland.org/
- Artsville Podcast —
- Scott “Sourdough” Power — https://www.notarealartist.com/
- Louise Glickman — https://www.louiseglickman.com/
- Daryl Slaton — http://www.tailsofwhimsy.com/
- Not Real Art — https://notrealart.com/
- Sand Hill Artists Collective (SHAC) — https://sandhillartists.com/
“The atmosphere in these workshops is pretty intense. People work really hard and a lot goes on and you have to apply yourself, but that does not mean you have to bring with you some high level of existing skill.” — Robin Dreyer [0:33:36]
“It really matters that people continue to work with these materials and to know how to use tools and to understand that they can continue learning things their whole lives.” — Robin Dreyer [0:51:32]