Leslie Noell

Penland Core Studio


Leslie lives in Asheville, NC. She works for Penland as the Core Fellowship Program Manager. She's also a studio artist, freelance graphic designer, and teacher.


What years were you a core student?

I always forget. I think it was 1993-1995. Is that right?


Who were you a core student with?

My (core) core group was Critz Campbell, Julie Oehlerking Decaen, Ila Prouty, John Neff, and (Big) John Rennick. We joined Karen Newgard, Shawn Ireland, and Kim Purser. Our second year we were joined by Jana Harper, Dave Wofford, and Jake Chamberlain.


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

Yes, a few I call regularly, out of the blue, no fanfare or explanations. We just pick up where we left off. Some I think about a lot but don't get to see. I'm also lucky enough to actually run into a lot of them on a semi-regular basis.


What was your best moment as a core student?

That's tough. I didn't always recognize my best moments at the time. But I remember a few moments when I liked what I made. Those were rare and sweet. And I always loved the times (between sessions) when there were only a handful of people on the mountain and everything was quiet. That particular feeling is hard to describe.


What was your worst?

Probably a few things I said (or looks I gave) to people I genuinely loved but was feeling extremely irritated by at the moment. I'm afraid there wasn't just one moment.


What is your favorite spot on campus?

The Craft House porch during a thunder storm. Morgan when everyone was home. The metals studio in the fall. The Pines roof during fire works.


What was your favorite meal at the Pines?

Pasta night with a real tossed salad, candles, and Dean Martin. Definitely.


What was your least favorite?

Sandwich day.


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

I still have a small steel sculpture I made in a metals concentration. I have a few prints. I have dozens of things I traded for.


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

From a creative stand point, a metals concentration with Marcia Macdonald and a 2-week print class with Bob Mueller.  From a personal stand point, a 2-week iron class with Hoss Haley. I actually think in all three cases I did realize it at the time. Is that possible?


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

Everything I learned as a weekend cook was completely unexpected. And I had no idea what a crash course in people skills I'd be getting. I wasn't always a gracious study.


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

My husband, Hoss. I'm amazed. As an artist he's a triple threat: creativity, skill, and drive. There's a long list of people I'll never forget, but you asked for one, so...


What are you doing today?

I'm designing a book of poems by Betty Oliver, trying to finish two more prints for an upcoming show, and hoping to get to all my emails before I pick up my son from school.


Fill in the blank: If I had never been a core student I probably wouldn't be doing any of things I just said I was doing today. Except maybe trudging through emails.


You can visit Leslie's website at