2015 Kenan Fellows

Ten UNCSA students and alumni were selected to study at Penland during summer 2015. This year's Kenan fellows chose workshops in a range of media, including iron, printmaking, letterpress, and photography. Three fellows took book workshops, and two were part of a workshop that focused on deepening artists' studio practices.






Hannah Bennett

UNCSA, 2014


“Penland makes me believe in magic again. It’s impossible to not fall in love with the world here…. There are so many things to appreciate in life this experience has moved me deeply unlike anything. I don’t really know what else to say.”


Hannah took Tapping into Audacity, Christina Shmigel's fifth session workshop.
















Jenna Borstelmann

UNCSA, 2011


“As a UNCSA Alumni from the class of 2011 and a recent graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art attending Penland has been a wonderful experience for continuing my education. Penland has prepared me to start my professional career as an interdisciplinary artist and has inspired me to keep producing new work even through the process of applying for jobs…. I am thankful to have been able to keep my creative endeavors underway as I enter this next phase of my life as an artist.”


Jenna took Metal Furniture with Vivian Beer in the iron studio during third session.








Alexa Cavas

UNCSA, 2015


“My experience here not only nurtured my artistic soul but it also allowed me to come back in touch with who I really am. There’s no way I could ever describe how satisfying it feels to finish seven complete pieces of work in just two days! … and all for me!”


Alexa studied Digital Fabrications & Letterpress Printing with Ashley John Pigford and Tricia Treacy during fifth session.








Adam Dehus

UNCSA, 2013


“I attended the first session letterpress class. We spent two weeks doing demos and techniques to fully understand the machines and different processes that are associated with letterpress. This class was so incredible for me because I finally got to experience a truly HANDS on school…. This class made me truly appreciate the process of printing my images…. I would never trade this for anything else.”


Adam took Shawn Bitters's first session print workshop, Pattern, Pop & Politics.












Lillian Higgins

UNCSA, 2013


“Penland is a place that is no less than magic. It’s hard for me to describe it in any other way. There is a light radiating from this little mountain-top and from all of the people who make up this ever-changing and growing community. The openness and trust we all experience can be felt everywhere from our studios to the lack of locks on any doors. These small details of daily life at Penland are what create the magic.”


Lillian studied Documentary & the Creative Process during fifth session with Jeff Goodman.












Ben Johnson

UNCSA, 2015


“Grateful seas abide

and Penland was deemed a

magical place

with beings beyond words

and broken concepts that

heal my wounds

with people not scared

of the future

here open arms embraces greets

a warm hello upon each and every

face, whether new or old, worn

and even broken down

still remains a glint of magic”


Ben took Nicci Haynes's second session books class Reconfiguring the Book: Beyond the Alphabet.










Virginia Li

UNCSA, 2014


“I have taken many art classes in my life, accumulated a lot of “skill,” learned a ton of technique, but never have I felt so connected to my work as I do here. Being a design major in college, my creative drive is often closely intertwined with a pervasive fear of failure – a tendency that has robbed me of the ability to truly explore. Here at Penland, I have been blessed with an environment and community of total openness. I am not afraid to be artistically vulnerable here, I am not competing with other students. I am not constantly trying to earn the respect of my instructor. I am already accepted. Here, I have been free to succeed because I am also free to fail.”



Virginia took Animated Pop-Up Books with Shawn Sheehy during fifth session.








Essie Somma

UNCSA, 2014


“The main reason I [wanted] to study at Penland this summer is because of the wide breadth of classes that are available. I’ve talked to past UNCSA Visual Arts alumni that have attended two week courses at Penland and all of them spoke so passionately about the medium they learned. In a community of artists it’s easy to feel small but everyone I met when visiting Penland, and even the air around me, seemed to encourage creativity and growth. I feel that there is no better place to expose yourself to something new than in a community where the experimental side of art is so accepted. It’s easy to feel vulnerable and shy away from doing that as a student but that’s no way to grow as an artist. I want to constantly be learning, growing, and improving throughout my career and I see Penland as another step along that path.”


Essie was part of Christina Shmigel's session five workshop Tapping into Audacity.









Hayley Watson

UNCSA, 2015


“To me, this class was a way to learn about something that I don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in.... During the course of my class, I was put in the shoes of a photojournalist. This experience was challenging in many ways, but I learned so much from every obstacle I was faced with. I will remember my time here for a lifetime!”


Hayley joined Fritz Hoffman in the photo studio for his session four class Crafting the Visual Narrative.













Jennifer Xiao

UNCSA, 2014


“I have been involved in many arts communities, but Penland stands out because of the physical surroundings and the people. The serene and idyllic landscape is a good escape from all the noise I am usually engulfed by, and it helps me delve more deeply into my work. The community here is so diverse and genuine…. I hope to apply what I have learned in my future illustration work while I am a student at RISD. This has been an amazing opportunity.”


Jennifer took Animated Pop-Up Books with Shawn Sheehy during fifth session.