Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review of AIR Exhibition in Metro Pulse Knoxville

The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts Recognizes This Year's Visiting Artists

Arriving at the Arrowmont School without having suffered a crashing headache from the visual cacophony that is Pigeon Forge can be quite a relief. An oasis surrounded by the ever-bustling Gatlinburg, Arrowmont’s 14-acre property on the Parkway is home to a highly esteemed arts and crafts center that, in turn, serves as an annual home for groups of artists-in-residence. Hosting such artists each year since 1991, the school presents the culmination of their efforts in an exhibition every spring.

The 2014 show, Five Lines, which runs through May 9, is memorable. It features an impressive collection of sculpture and other objects, drawings, and textile art by Lynn Batchelder, H.P. Bloomer, Rachel K. Garceau, Tally Locke, and Rena Wood, Arrowmont’s visiting artists and also the participants in the school’s booth at the Dogwood Arts Festival’s Art Fair on Market Square this weekend.

People familiar with the Arrowmont School likely know its history. The school was established approximately a century ago by the Pi Beta Phi women’s organization as a “settlement school,” in response to the lack of formal public education in the region. Arrowmont initiated, in conjunction with the University of Tennessee, a summer art program beginning in 1945. Inspired by a distinctive tradition of local crafts, the program eventually expanded to offer year-round classes.

Facilities once used for settlement school purposes are now studios and classrooms for workshops; they include a narrow but spacious exhibition area with clerestory windows incorporating mountain light into the overall viewing experience. In Five Lines, various pieces interspersed throughout the gallery in a mixed display, rather than separated according to artist, reflect what gallery manager Stefanie Gerber Darr has called “a palpable shared energy” between this past year’s artists-in-residence. Whatever the configuration of art—whether or not the work is wall-mounted, on pedestals, occupying floor space, or ceiling-hung—the offerings in Five Lines signal a departure from what visitors to Arrowmont might expect.

For instance, however predictable his medium seems at Arrowmont, H.P. Bloomer creates ceramics that would give your grandmother goose bumps. In addition to functionality, his predominantly porcelain work (i.e., bowls, vases, lidded jars, etc.) represents a satisfying marriage of form, glaze, and applied image. The Texas-bred Bloomer identifies 20th-century modernism as an influence, but his pared-down, International Style and Bauhaus school-inspired fare comes with a twist: exuberant, albeit often understated, color. Alongside other simultaneously earthy and bold pieces are his 16 dinner plates, mounted together on a single wall.

Employing porcelain in an entirely different way, New Hampshire-educated Rachel K. Garceau is primarily an installation artist. In Five Lines, work fitting that description is both present and documented—that is, seen in photographs of objects occupying nearby outdoor locations. By removing portions of white slip from the surfaces of pillow-shaped and larger wedge-like forms prior to firing, Garceau produces surface imagery, frequently of leaves and chain-link fencing.
Garceau’s piece “never spoken” transforms porcelain into something looking like the tufted vinyl upholstery found in classic cars. Its long, 2-foot-wide black-and-white swath composed of ceramic “bricks” laid end to end extends approximately eight feet up a partition wall. One can’t help but be reminded of a piano keyboard, the differing lengths of ceramic sections producing a visual rhythm of sorts.

Also large scale is Rena Wood’s installation with lace and felt titled “Fabricated Perspective.” About eight feet wide and 10 feet high, her black “curtain” has round elements positioned within cascading threads, the ends of which, pooling onto the gallery floor, form curls echoing circular shapes above. Smaller wall hangings, at times in the form of runners, utilize vintage tablecloths and other household textiles. Some pieces feature purple and blue-gray embroidery on raw silk, grommets, or both feathery and muscular sewn-together sections. The central portion of Wood’s nine-part, quilt-like “Bridge” is a mandala of sorts that might allude to domestic enlightenment.

Michigander Lynn Batchelder’s combining of linear drawings and related metal objects sets her work apart. Balancing intricate ink markings on paper that seem every bit as labor-intensive as Wood’s art are simple three-dimensional pieces in copper and sterling silver. The quirky “Inlet Brooches,” composed of silver, have a matte surface, and in one instance, a multitude of small holes resembling a man’s whiskered skin. Batchelder has described trying to capture “small moments of contrast where control and imperfection collide,” an aim embodied by bottomless pouches suspended from chains—the non-functional parading as useful.

Finally, wood, another material associated with crafts, dominates work by Tally Locke. Be it a pedestal-mounted pile of log ends capping off dowels, a locally sourced black walnut table, or an assortment of smooth bowls set into salvaged chunks of osage orange, maple, cherry, or oak, Locke’s love for wood is obvious. And she, like her fellow artists-in-residence, appears to possess the skill to do with it whatever imagination allows.

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Here is the link to the article. (

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 Surface Forums

A few weeks back we were lucky enough to hosted three surface forums at the Arrowmont campus. Unfortunately I (HP) didn’t really get to spend as much time conversing with all of the people who came for the forum as I would have liked. The forums were loosely structured invitational gatherings which allow the artists to work in a open format in tandem with each other. The forums included a ceramics forum organized by former artist in residence Jason Burnett as well as a textile and metals forum. I unfortunately did not get to peak in on the metals forum but I did manage to snap a few photos of fibers and ceramics.If you are ever invited to attend one of these they are a fantastic opportunity to not only experience Arrowmont and Gatlinburg during the winter and a great chance to make art and get feed back from your peers. Enjoy! -HP

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rachel visits Corning Museum of Glass

In October, I had an opportunity to work with Polish glass artist Barbara Idzikowska at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY. We experimented with soft molding making materials in order to make molds off the body which will ultimately be used for glass casting. Follow this link to read more about Barbara and watch a video of the process:

This exploration led me to new ways of thinking about mold making and alternate materials which I have been utilizing in a community class I am teaching to a group of local teenagers.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

cups and bowls and plates.. oh my

All of the dishware in the resident housing is handmade. We wanted to add to that collection where it was lacking in certain areas (i.e. large cups!). Every cup we own is a coffee cup...but not for long! H.P. threw new cups, bowls, and plates and invited us to a decorating party in his studio where we got draw on them with the sgraffito process. Here are some photos! 

welcome to HP's studio
HP doing his thang
Tally's cup-- blocks of wood?

The gang
some freaky tool i fell in love with in HP's studio

The cardigan ladies
Rachel popping in to make a few at the end of the night 
Best cup of the night by Rachel-- a blind contour drawing of my face 
just bisqued
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Arrowmont Experience and the September Soda Firing.

Our friend Emily Nickle, a former work study from this summer and Ceramics Instructor at The Kentucky School of Craft, just published a nice blog on her experience here as a work study this summer. There are lots of photos and she covers a wide spectrum of experiences from her stay here. You can read it at She talks a great deal about many of the workshops she was able to attend and others that were going on while she was here as well as her adventures off camps. Its a good read for any of those interested in what being a work study here with the Arrowmont family is like.

I also wanted to share with those of you who do not follow me on any of my other online outlets what I am up to. As I am sure you saw last week we had Justin Rothshank here teaching a decaling workshop and since this was one of the items that I was interested in pursuing during my residency I followed along. I also had a firing this past weekend and was able to do a little decal work on a hand full of those pieces. Here area few images from that latest firing.
You can also see more of my work at or
Hope you enjoy!