Sunday, August 23, 2009

Continuing my Glacial Pace...

Missing from my previous Penland posts are pictures of some of the amazing people (other than Alyssa) I spent time with over those nearly three weeks.

This is Mark- he's the generous, mind expanding photo-studio coordinator that Alyssa and I both fell in love with. When you and I are together I'll tell you about the time we spent at his home. A truly great person that I'm looking forward to knowing for a long time.

Being such a social place there was lots (and lots) of dancing.

Here are some of the people from the class. From the left: Alyssa; Frank, a former Richmonder who has (quasi) dropped out in the mountains of North Carolina so he can be near Penland; Ebony, just back from three years in Angola - the country, not the prison, and originally from Baltimore; Suzie, from California, lived for many years in Winston-Salem, now retired with her husband to Floyd, Virginia; Becky, one of our classes main attractions, a recent graduate of the College of Charleston and student of Michelle Van Parys, Ashley, from Maine, one of the funniest people you'll meet, attending Maine College of Art this fall; and Liz recently back from a jilt inducing road trip, a bad ass hipster w/ Richmond roots, and also a student of Michelle Van Parys.

The paper class made a hot air balloon that was fueled by hairdryers. Beautiful. There was a huge loving crowd who cheered as the balloon made a slow, tumbling descent down the hill. If I went to Penland again and took a class I'd take a paper-making class. The class was chock full of good people.

Watching the balloon launch. Top row: Ashley (see above); Liz (see above); Jackie, in the painting class, we enjoyed a ginger aid soda and a meal together but otherwise I know little of Jackie; Shelly, Shelly was in Arthur Hash's class, from Olympia WA, in the band Razzmatazz there and an amazing singer - more about her later; guy I didn't meet; Suzie (see above); front row: ?; Alison, another of Alyssa's students, lives in Raleigh, is truly her own person and a DJ of a Monday morning (9-12) show on WXDU, Alison was happy to be away from home, citing that at home she's "mama-san" and that at Penland she got to be her own person.

As we drove off these were the faces that bid us farewell. Additions to the crew are the two on the right. In the brown tank top is Megan, a recent graduate of Cranbrook and the studio assistant for the paper class, on the first day we met Megan called me out for mentioning suicide twice during dinner; and Jason, a Penland core student who, like all the core students, did an amazing job making sure that all of us had an amazing time during our class, and also took the time to let me in and show me his Penland.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I went to Penland to assist Alyssa with the class of 19th century photo processes she was teaching. The images above are from an outing to Spruce Pine that we took on a gray Sunday. There's a lot I could say about Alyssa but I'll opt to let the pictures speak.

Go here for Alyssa's website and here for her blog.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mornings at Penland

Penland is nestled near the top of a large mountain and overlooks a meadow that I assume is owned by the school. Weeknights at Penland are given to slide lectures where instructors and their assistants present their work. Most lectures include an image shot by the speaker of the meadow during some previous stay at the school. This meadow, archetypal in its representation of all things meadow-ish, has no doubt helped to foster the near mythical devotion that so many speakers expressed about being in these hills.

Each morning as I walked to breakfast I'd head straight to the road to see what state the meadow was in (and to see whether or not I could capture it in a photograph). The mornings when the clouds were lodged between the hills were my favorite. On these days I would continuously look towards the meadow and watch as slowly the mountains in the distance would reveal themselves.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Back to Planet Spider

I'm back, in a slight state of shock, and going through my pictures deciding what and how I'll post. Here's a good one to start with... I shot it before I left using Kim's point and shoot and my new monocular. The blobs are a spider and her egg sac, the brown forms are leaves on the roof outside our kitchen window.

I thought I might do something with this image or shoot more like it while at Penland. I didn't but during the time I've been gone the spider has produced at least 3 additional sacs and there are little baby spiders everywhere. There are also lots of people, cars, the sounds of the highway, light pollution, land lines, bills...