Teaching at Penland

The Community of Education:
A Retreat for Teaching Artists


In 2004, Penland hosted the Instructors New Works retreat, as part of our 75th anniversary celebration. We have once again received NEA funding that allows us to offer another week-long artist educators retreat opportunity for Penland instructors.


The retreat will take place from September 18-23, 2011. Unlike the 2004 retreat, this program is more specifically directed toward artists who consider themselves educators or aspiring educators, and will focus on teaching and learning, risk-taking and experimentation. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with colleagues informally and through discussions, demos and studio work.


In the past few years Penland has begun thinking about how to formally articulate its teaching model--what it is, why it works, and how it can be shared with artist educators who want to bring the generous and nurturing spirit of Penland's studios into their own teaching environments. We envision this retreat as a kind of “think tank,” bringing together the best of Penland's artist educators to share their teaching experiences. We anticipate that participants will leave with strengthened networks, renewed curiosity, and fresh insights that will inspire and guide their endeavors to teach creatively and effectively.


Teaching artists devote so much time to helping their students develop skills that they often have little opportunity for personal growth through focused time with their own work. During this week Penland will provide educators the same total-immersion experience that regular students have, with the freedom to work day and night, focus intensively, take risks, experiment, work passionately, benefit from the supportive community, and gain insight into best teaching practices. There will also be several teaching-related discussion groups.


All 15 of Penland's studios will be dedicated to the work of retreat participants, offering hands-on opportunities in books, clay, glass, letterpress, metals, painting, photography, iron, printmaking, textiles, and wood. We encourage you to explore media new to you and engage in individual or collaborative cross-disciplinary work. This is an opportunity to step out of the comfort zone into unfamiliar studios, working with new equipment, materials, and processes. Artists who find they lack the expertise in an area needed to realize an idea will be provided technical guidance to try new ideas.


Participants should plan to learn something new and to teach others something new to them. Opportunities will be available for any participant to offer demos or talks in their area of expertise. Penland will provide basic supplies for studio work, daily movement classes, housing and meals. Artists are responsible for transportation costs and any extra materials they need in the studio.


Space is limited to 100 participants, who were selected from the pool of applicants based on studio capacity and ability to support the proposed projects, artistic excellence, commitment to teaching, diversity of age, race, media, geography, leadership in the field, and enthusiasm for experimenting in unfamiliar areas.


Studios, Skills, Ideas, and Collaborations

Here's what your fellow participants had to say about their "home base" studio, what unfamiliar studios they might like to work in, what they would like to teach, and what they have in mind for possible projects and collaborations:


The 4 by 4 by 4 by 100 Project

We will get started with this collaborative project on the first night, and work will continue throughout the week. Please bring an object that you’ll be willing to let other people modify. Anything goes – hand made, found, figurative, abstract, 3d, 2d, useful, useless, scented, odorless, glistening, matte, futuristic, reminiscent of days of yore, static, undulating – just so long as it will fit in a 4 inch cube.


Hey, look at this!

We want to give everyone who will be at the retreat a chance to share before September. Here’s where you get to tell people what you’re paying attention to. Just send in something that has lit up your mind recently – an piece of writing, a link to a website, an image of sunlight on your soup – and tell us why you care about it. Here’s the form:



Click on the link, save the form to your computer, fill it out, and email it back to us at:


We'll share your responses here as we receive them. Check back often to find out what your soon-to-be collaborators are interested, intrigued, attracted, or appalled by!




Dana Moore, Programs Director


P.O. Box 37

Penland, NC 28765