Mark lives in Orange County, NC. He designs and produces ceramic tableware.
What years were you a core student?
Who were you a core student with?
My group was Jessica Heikes, Leah Frost, Jason Burnett.
Joshua Kuensting, Marianne Dages, Tina Boy, Beth Schaible, Wes Stitt were there my first year. Ian Henderson, Ele Annand, Amanda Thatch, Rosie Saqib, Daniel Beck were the newbies.
Are you still in touch with any of your fellow core students?
Yes. Some better than others; I wish I was better about that…
What was your best moment as a core student?
There were so many… One of my favorites was sitting on the Mule (an all terrain golf cart) watching fireworks on the Fourth of July with Rosie, Dan Beck, Amanda Thatch, Ele Anand and Jessica Heikes. Seeing my friend’s faces lit up by fireworks was so beautiful, and I remember telling myself “Remember this forever!”
What was your worst?
Gosh. Probably the all school meetings. Sorry, I’m just not a meetings person, nothing personal.
I tried really hard to be aware and thankful of how lucky I was to be living and taking classes at Penland; I had moved to Morgan from a house where you could not drink the tap water, so I was stoked to be able to drink from the faucet.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
The pond behind the wood studio on a snowy day… the fire trail to the maintenance shop was so quiet and peaceful when I just wanted to be alone… the wind in the grass on the knoll… the fireflies on the knoll in June… the profound quiet of the school on a winter morning at sunrise.
What was your favorite meal at the Pines?
Nacho Night. And yes I know that nachos do not constitute an actual meal.
What was your least favorite?
Anything with fish. Especially trout.
Do you still have anything that you made as a core student? Or anything that you traded for?
Yes. I am not very sentimental, but I do have a shelf of art made by my fellow Core in my room.
What class you took had the most impact on you? Did you realize it at the time?
I have two:
Clarence Morgan’s painting class, session one of my first summer at Penland. It came at just the right time- I had just finished the worst concentration ever and was seriously considering not continuing the Core program, but Clarence was so encouraging and positive. I am thankful every day that I stayed.
Tom Spleth’s slip casting and mold making class during my last Spring concentration. I can definitely say my life would be profoundly different today if I had not taken that class and gotten to know Tom.
Is there something that you learned in the core program that you never expected to learn?
I never, ever, ever, believed I would work primarily with clay. I still don’t believe it.
Tell us about someone you met through the core program who you'll never forget?
Far, far too many to name. To choose just one would not do the other 100 justice. I love you all.
What are you doing today?
Firing a kiln and finalizing my business partners travel plans to LA for Dwell on Design. At some point hopefully enjoying a cold cocktail.
Fill in the blank: If I had never been a core student I would still be working construction. Or maybe be in graduate school.
You can visit Mark's website at