Jason Bige Burnett

Penland Core Studio


Jason lives in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.


What years were you a core student?



Who were you a core student with?

I showed up with Jessica Heikes, Mark Warren, and Leah Frost. To greet us were Joshua Keunsting, Marianne Dages, Tina Boy, Beth Schaible, and Wes Stitt. We left and Ian Henderson, Daniel Beck, Amanda Thatch, Rosina Saqib, and Eleanor Annand stayed to welcome the next crew of core.


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

Yes. Especially, Beth Schaible. She's going to be my maid of honor at my wedding!


What was your best moment as a core student?

It's a tie! My sister came to visit me while I was at Penland, summer 2010, along with my father. It was during that visit my sister and I collaborated on art for the first time and my relationship with my Dad blossomed. I believe that it really brought my Dad and I closer. The second was my 25th birthday. Best birthday party I ever had! My first piñata; it was filled with cupcakes and army men. My best gift was a kickball with a kitten on it that had a red eyeball drawn on its forehead.


What was your worst?

I had a bad experience collaborating with another artist while I was a core fellow. The work we made won a cash award and they never split the winnings nor gave proper credit for the work. It was very hard to have been cheated. Fortunately, I was living amongst a large community of studio artists who have one point in their life experienced the same thing. I had a safety net of professionals that gave great advice, and because of the core program I wasn't relying too heavily on the money. I was able to use the experience as a learning opportunity. 


What is your favorite spot on campus?

Honestly, my bedroom in Morgan hall my second year. It was huge, let in a lot of light and it was wooden floors, walls, and ceiling. I miss hearing the train in the middle of the night creating a haunting squeal as it passed through the area.


What was your favorite meal at the Pines?

They don't serve it anymore – crab cakes benedict with Tina Boy's hollandaise sauce. Second would be the sushi during concentrations.


What was your least favorite?

Pork chops, roasted potatoes, and steamed green beans. That would be a tie with baked potato bar at lunch.


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

I'm still in love with the pop-up book making class samples I made that incorporated screenprinted elements. The other is a set of brooches I made during my first concentration in the shapes of cute guys. I called them "Bro-Ches."


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

Shawn Sheehy's pop up books class. It transformed the surfaces of my ceramics and screenprinting – the idea of layering with collaged surfaces, building in 3-D with 2-D materials.


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

Two things:

1. How precious time is.

2. All the professional development feedback and insight I got from resident artists like Amy Tavern and Sarah Martin.


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

Mark Errol. Each summer because so many people came and went through workshops, I never really made it a point to become close to anyone. BUT one man in particular became a really great friend. I've cherished our friendship ever since. (In fact I'm currently assisting a workshop two years later and we're assisting together. Actually he's assisting in upper clay, and I'm in lower clay.) He's the first friend I've met with whom from the very beginning we were very honest with each other and shared frustrations and lots of words of encouragement. I'd say I met one of my best friends while here.


What are you doing today?

I'm finishing up assisting mentor and friend Israel Davis at Penland School of Crafts.  I met Israel in 2008 when I took a workshop of his at Ox-Bow Summer School of Art in Saugatuck, Michigan. He had asked that I assist him during this class. I feel so very honored.


Fill in the blank: If I had never been a core student I'm sure I'd be working as a summer camp counselor or director.


You can visit Jason's website at