Dana Fehsenfeld

Penland Core Studio


Dana lives in Bakersville, NC ("at the bottom of Conley Ridge Road," she says). She screen prints textiles for her own "little" company, Chomp.


What years were you a core student?



Who were you a core student with?

I was welcomed to Morgan by Courtney Dodd, Jon Shearin, Kristin Flournoy, and Aran Galligan.
I was lucky enough to come in with Andrew Hayes, Shane Darwent, Kreh Mellick, and Alex Geske.
Our second year we welcomed Christina Boy, Joshua Kuensting, Wes Stitt, Beth Schaible, and Marianne Dages.


Are you still in touch with any of your fellow core students?

Almost all of them every now and again. I am still very close with the people that came in with me.


What was your best moment as a core student?

There are so many. I loved collaborating with my fellow core students. When we would come up with a project to work together on it didn't matter how exhausted we all were there was a new energy or excitement that happened from that kind of interaction. One in project in particular was a small house we made for the knoll. Kreh and I printed all the fabrics and Andrew made the steel frame. It looked like an oasis out there and we had a little party.


What was your worst?

The last work week I did when I was 6 months pregnant.


What is your favorite spot on campus?

That's a toss up between the knoll in the summer mostly because of the way it smelled…and Morgan's back porch after a long day with all of my sweet core friends.


What was your favorite meal at the Pines?

Mike Holland used to make us breakfast for dinner which was a delight. I also liked fancy lunch.


What was your least favorite?

Thanksgiving dinner, usually served at lunch.


Do you still have anything that you made as a core student? Or anything that you traded for?

Yes. When I walk through my house it's like walking through a core museum. Their work pops out of every corner.


What class you took had the most impact on you? Did you realize it at the time?

I took a screen printed wallpaper class with Jennifer Angus. I think at the time I knew that something in my world was coming together but I didn't really know the long lasting effects.


Is there something that you learned in the core program that you never expected to learn?

I think I learned how sweet it is to be friends with people that aren't just like you. So many of the people I would never have been close with in the 'real' world are my most cherished friends. Also I learned the importance of realizing what really mattered. People would often come to you with problems that in the scheme of the world are very small. I learned how to treat these questions respectfully and then let go. I feel this has made me a much better parent than I would have been.


Tell us about someone you met through the core program who you'll never forget?

There are so many. I would be in trouble if I didn't mention my husband, Zac Lopez-Ibanez. He was the one that showed me the community beyond the Penland hill; I could never thank him enough for that.
But… I have to say that Kreh Mellick made my core experience what it was. She was a sounding block, confidant, collaborator, and someone to explore this world with. I feel touched that she let me into her magical world.


What are you doing today?

Today, I am sitting at the Penland coffee shop using the internet. Trying to find health insurance, update my website, and I will soon pick up my little girl, Burdie, from school.


Fill in the blank: If I had never been a core student I would have never discovered how sweet North Carolina smells…and how it feels like home.


You can visit Dana's website at