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Two April lectures to complement ‘Studio Practices: Penland 9’ exhibition at Appalachian’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

By University Communications

BOONE, N.C.—The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University will present two lectures in April that complement “Studio Practices: Penland 9,” which will be on view at the center through June 3.

The “Studio Practices: Penland 9” exhibition showcases the art of nine Penland studio coordinators at Penland School of Crafts and each coordinator will discuss their artwork during one of two lectures: “Coordinators I” on April 12, and “Coordinators II” on April 19.

Both lectures, which are free and open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. and take place in the center’s Lecture Hall.

Penland is an international center for craft education dedicated to helping people live creative lives. The school offers intensive workshops in books and paper, clay, drawing, glass, iron, metals, photography, printmaking and letterpress, textiles and wood.

The following artists will discuss their work April 12:

Melanie Finlayson, the manager for all studios at Penland, was born and raised in Albany, New York, and she has been working for Penland since 2010. She founded and ran Green Plum Press & Gallery in Spruce Pine, the press for which is now in her home studio, where she works primarily in printmaking, drawing and painting. She has exhibited nationally and internationally. She holds an MFA in print media from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA in printmaking and sculpture from SUNY Plattsburgh. She has been artist in residence at several schools and studios, including Penland.

Daniel T. Beck, studio coordinator for iron, earned a BA degree in studio art and art history from the University of Georgia, where he focused on metalsmithing and medieval Christian architecture. He has exhibited mainly in North Carolina, including the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington. He also has several public works in Asheville and Spruce Pine.

Nick Fruin, studio coordinator for glass, began working with glass at Hastings College in Nebraska. He worked for Wet Dog Glass LLC in Star, a leading glass equipment manufacturer. While there, they built the STARworks Glass Lab, which is part of STARworks Center for Creative Enterprises. He also worked for Lukeke Design and Gaffer Glass, one of the world’s few glass color factories, in New Zealand. He has been a demonstrating artist at the Glass Art Society Conference 2011 in Seattle, The Australian National University, Hastings College, Tulsa Glassblowing School and Pilchuck Glass School. He has been an instructor and teaching Assistant at The Pittsburgh Glass Center, Corning Museum of Glass and Pilchuck Glass School.

Amanda Thatch, studio coordinator for textiles and drawing/painting, is originally from Kansas City, Missouri. She lived in Detroit, Michigan, and now resides in western North Carolina. She received her BFA in sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis, and she has been a resident artist at Art Farm in Nebraska, an intern at Women’s Studio Workshop in Upstate New York, an Allesee Fellow aboard the mobile museum Artrain USA and a two-year Core Fellow at Penland School of Crafts. Thatch has assisted textile classes at Penland, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and John C. Campbell Folk School. She has been a visiting artist at several colleges and universities in fields such as papermaking, bookbinding, weaving and natural dye.

Susan Feagin, studio coordinator for clay for nine years, was born in Burbank, California. After moving to the South with her family, she earned a BFA in design from UNC Greensboro. Her great aunt, Sue Rice, attended Penland in the late 1950s, and persuaded Feagin to take classes there as well. She did. After moving to Athens, Georgia, Feagin worked in the newspaper business and also shared a rented studio, where she taught beginning clay classes at Good Dirt Ceramic Center. She left Athens to attend graduate school in ceramics at the University of Florida. After graduating, she returned to Penland as the clay studio coordinator.

The following artists will discuss their work April 19:

Ian Henderson, studio coordinator for metals, grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania. His father is an engineer, an inventor and an amateur potter; Ian spent his childhood in a house full of tools and projects. He received a BA degree in contemporary U.S. history from Brown University and spent a decade working in the building trades and traveling. Henderson served a two-year Core Fellowship at Penland School of Crafts, where he undertook a deep study of metalworking and ceramics. His work merges industrial materials, including steel and concrete, with his abiding interest in pattern, architecture, machines and traditional metalwork.

Ellie Richards, studio coordinator for wood, received an MFA from Arizona State University with a focus on wood sculpture. Prior to coming to Penland, she participated in artist-residency programs at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, the Peters Valley School of Craft and the Appalachian Center for Craft. Richards continues to exhibit her furniture and sculpture. She recently secured a fellowship residency at the Vermont Studio Center. This year, her work will be included in “WHY WOOD? Contemporary Practice in a Timeless Material,” a Collectors of Wood Art exhibition at SOFA CHICAGO, an art fair.

Jay Fox, who is from Morganton, is Penland’s studio coordinator for books, paper, letterpress and print. He received his BFA in printmaking from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He received his MFA in studio art with a focus in print and narrative form from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Betsy DeWitt, studio coordinator for photography, received a BA in art history from the University of Georgia. She has shown her work in the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro, Rebus Works in Raleigh as well as at Earlham College’s Leeds Gallery in Richmond, Indiana; St. Andrews Art Gallery in Sewanee, Tennessee; and Green Plum Gallery in Spruce Pine.

Lectures will also complement two other exhibitions at Turchin this spring: “Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm,” on view through May 6, and “Collective Vigilance: Speaking for the New River,” which is on view through July 29. See for more information.

About the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

Located on 423 W. King St. at the crossroads of campus and community, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University engages visitors in dynamic and accessible exhibition, education, outreach and collection programs. These programs inspire and support a lifelong engagement with the visual arts and create opportunities for participants to learn more about themselves and the world around them. Hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday, and noon – 8 p.m. Friday. The center is closed Sunday and Monday and observes all university holidays. Admission is free, although donations are accepted. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.