I am currently at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina taking Denise Bookwalter’s Flat to 3D Letterpress class. My days at Penland look very different from my typical workdays- my studio in Orlando is in my home, so I’m used to working on my own. It feels good to be surrounded by so many bright minds while I create my work and I’m so relaxed and refreshed here in the Blue Ridge Mountains without the rigor and responsibilities of everyday life. I chose to document Saturday, July 27th, 2013- a day in my life at Penland.
I sleep in after a late night in the studio and spend a few minutes straightening things to help me wake up and mentally prepare for the day. I missed breakfast at The Pines, so I eat a blueberry Larabar and get ready for a run.
The beauty of the climate here is that I can run at anytime of day in late July. Back home in Orlando if you run after sunrise you are pretty much toast. The tradeoff is that Florida is flat, flat, flat and the mountain roads here are intense!
My run is broken up by lots of stopping to take pictures and walking up the steep inclines. I take lots of pictures on my run of the beautiful view to share with you, but my phone has been acting up in the mountains and didn’t save any of them! I take this as a sign that the forest wants to stay a secret today.
On the beginning of my run I come across a deer eating grass by the side of the road. We are ten feet away from each other, scoping each other out. The doe stands there, attentive, but doesn’t go anywhere as I pass. The deer here seem comfortable and unthreatened around people.
The run is peaceful, filled with sounds of running creeks, birds chirping, small woodland creatures scurrying about, bees buzzing around, the occasional crunch of gravel as people drove by- all underneath my ragged breath as I climb up and down the terrain.
On the way up the hill to my room, I come across a woman who lives nearby. She is taking her two dogs to the pond by my cabin. One of her dogs, Boo, loves to swim and is patiently waiting in the water for her to throw him a stick. I finally get back to my cabin, shower and get ready for lunch.
I walk down to The Pines for lunch and sit with several classmates. Lunch is grilled ham & cheese, sweet potato fries and napa cabbage cole slaw. I forget to take a picture before, but get one of the aftermath, as well as someone’s dog that was along for the ride.
FINALLY! STUDIO TIME!
I finally get in the Paul S Duensing Letterpress studio and get started on my work.
Today I’m printing letterpress for a curatorial project called Re-Riding History: From the Southern Plains to the Matanzas Bay, organized by Emily Arthur, Marwin Begaye and John Hitchcock. The project retraces the imprisonment of 72 Indians that were captured in Salt Fork, OK and taken to St. Augustine, FL, from 1875-1878, by bringing together the works of 72 artists and educators that were made in specific response to this history. As I did research for my piece, I became very frustrated at my inability and unwillingness to really understand what the captured Indians went through. I can understand being taken away from one’s family, language, culture and land, but it was frightening to imagine what that would look like in my life. My work for the project is motivated by this struggle to deeply connect my current place in life to the reality of the prisoners and the frustration I feel at my own limitation.
I spend my afternoon printing and loving the buzz in the studio as everyone works. There are eight people in the class and it is a very positive, happy vibe in our class. We have the windows open to the sounds of nature. Everything feels right in the world in our space.
- I mix my ink (a simple Pantone black and transparent white)
- Ink up the press, set the roller height and lock in the Boxcar base with furniture
- Attach my polymer plate to the base and proof. Make registration adjustments
- Print my first layer. I get really giddy at seeing my first proof. Printing always gives me a feeling of wholeness and completion. It’s hard to describe, but every time I print I am reassured that printmaking is my passion and calling.
- Detach plate and attach new polymer plate
- Using the same ink color, print my second layer
- Clean up my press and station and think about the next steps for my print (I also used the same plates to print some variations for use in a related artist book)
Today I am getting miserable cell reception, so my husband, Mike, and I are e-mailing each other. It’s been a couple days since I’ve been able to talk to him on the phone and I miss him a lot, but I am thankful for my time here.
I join Emily Arthur, John Hitchock, and Maren Muñoz for dinner. Emily is preparing dinner and we chat about the day. Emily is cooking salmon, cheese grits and salad with wine and hard cider. We eat dinner on the porch, share stories and enjoy the cool evening and view. When it starts to sprinkle we head inside and wash the dishes and eat chocolate chip cookies for dessert!
Tonight Penland is hosting a Cosmic Luau party full of Hawaiian shirts, flowers and aluminum foil used to cosmify everything. Lots of people stay outside and talk by the keg on the porch, but the real fun is inside where people are dancing. If you know me, you know I love to dance! I love when people dance and have fun and don’t care who’s watching (Doesn’t that sound like a silly cliché?). They play lots of Talking Heads, stuff from Daft Punk’s new album, Chromeo and Michael Jackson as nebulas and the stars are projected on the wall.
The Cosmic Luau ends and I walk back to the letterpress studio to work a little bit on my drawing for another print and listen to Gold Fields, a band from Australia I’ve been listening to non-stop. Some of my classmates are hanging out on the porch outside, so I joined them and we talked about what happened to Sisqo and reviewed R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the closet” series.
The Glass studio is next to our studio and they are blaring old school Jay-Z, Dr. Dre and Crystal Castles, so we walk up to see what they are up to. We talk about the meaning of YOLO, ways it can be applied in conversation and different flavors of bubblegum.
230am I finally head home and unceremoniously pass out.