Penland School of Craft in 1985



Penland School of Craft in 1985


This film features interviews and studio visits with craftspeople at Penland School of Craft in 1985. Artists include Walter Nottingham, Evon Streetman, Flossie Perisho, Jane Brown, Jessie McKinney, Paulus Berensohn, Bill Brown, Dan Bailey, Michael Pierschalla, Cynthia Bringle, Harvey Littleton, Stephen Dee Edwards, Don Wilcox, Louise Cope Todd, Marvin Jensen, Woody Cair, Doug Sigler, Dolph Smith, Norm Schulman, Gary Beecham, Edwina Bringle, Mark Peiser, Ken Carder, and Mary Cannon. Filmed and Edited by Chris Felver.

Walter Nottingham (1930-2014) was a weaving/ fiber artist and art educator. Walter taught at the University of Wisconsin and with a team of educators, created the first art department for the college. Walter taught textile and weaving classes at the Penland School of Crafts from 1970 to 1996.

Evon Streetman (1932-) first came to Penland in 1964 at the request of the school’s second director, Bill Brown. He had seen her work and called her to ask if she would teach a workshop in photography, something that wasn’t being taught at Penland at that time. Her first visit, she says, was a turning point in her life. She quickly became part of the school’s inner circle, and was instrumental in establishing photography as a regular program at the school. Through the 1970’s and 80’s, she built darkrooms, recruited instructors, and was the key figure in setting the artistic direction of the program. She became a Resident Artist for several years, served as a Trustee, and continued to teach at Penland regularly for the next twenty-five years. In 2010, Evon was honored as the Penland School of Craft Outstanding Artist Educator. To honor Evon and her part in Penland’s formative history, the new studio will be dedicated to her. Evon’s interest in photographic process and experimentation has been critical in the design decisions for the studio. The studio will be somewhat unique in that it will accommodate the broad spectrum of photographic practice from studio work, artificial lighting, historic hand-worked images, and the most contemporary digital techniques. It will be a place worthy of Evon and her love of play, discovery, and invention.

Flossie Perisho (1909-2001) was an artist and art educator. Sister to Bonnie Ford. Flossie attended classes and taught at the Penland School of Handicrafts under Lucy Morgan and Bill Brown. She was best known for her shuck dolls, but also taught non-fired pottery, lampshades, and surface design. She married a visiting student and settled on the school's campus, where she lived until her passing in 2001.

Bill Brown (1923-1992) is a sculptor, designer and educator. Penland School of Crafts' second director from 1962 to 1983. Brown expanded from founder Lucy Morgan's mission by offering longer fall and spring sessions, adding iron and glass studios, and resident artist programs. Brown also taught at the school 1980 to 1981.

Jane Brown (1932-) is a dancer and arts administrator. Wife of Bill Brown, Director emeritus of the Penland School of Crafts from 1962 to 1983. She taught dance classes at the school from 1978 to 1983.

Jessie McKinney (1917-2008) was a long-time donor of the Penland School of Craft.

Paulus Berensohn (1933-2017) was a potter, dancer and educator of pottery. He is best known for his slow approach to pottery and his famed book, “Finding One’s Way With Clay” (1972). His work focused on spirituality and connectedness to nature, and environmental issues. Berensohn was a beloved educator at the Penland School of Crafts where he worked for nearly 40 years in the clay and paper studios. Before teaching, he was also a student in many craft schools and art communities throughout the U.S., including the Penland School of Crafts (as one of the first artists in residence), Haystack Mountain School, and the Land commune in N.Y., to name a few.

Dan Bailey is a photographer and award winning film-maker. He was also an instructor (1983-1985), resident artist (1980), trustee, and chair of the Penland board. While not at the Penland School of Crafts, Dan is also a professor and director of the Imaging Research Center at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Michael Pierschalla (1995-2002) was a woodworker and well-known American furniture maker. Michael taught in the wood studio at the Penland School of Crafts from 1986 to 1995.

Cynthia Bringle (1939) is a potter, ceramic artist, and teacher. One of Penland's first ceramic artists in the 1960s. Lives and works in Penland, N.C. in a studio that she shares with her twin sister, Edwina Bringle. She has also taught in the Penland School of Crafts ceramic studio since the 1960s.

Edwina Bringle (1939) is a fiber artist, known for her use of color and design in her woven textiles and free motion embroidered pieces. One of Penland's first textile artists in the 1960s. Lives and works in Penland, N.C. in a studio that she shares with her twin sister, Cynthia Bringle. She has also taught in the Penland School of Crafts textile studio since the 1960s.

Harvey Littleton (1922-2013) was a glass artist and art educator. Littleton is internationally acclaimed for starting the American Studio Glass movement in 1962, to encourage hot glass as a contemporary art medium. He was a long-time university professor in glass arts. During the 1963 academic year, he introduced the first university program for glass in the United States at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Littleton taught his students everything he knew about glass blowing to encourage them to start glass programs of their own in other universities, and many did. He experimented with the equipment and processes of glass blowing facilities to make the practice more D-I-Y and accessible to more artists. His own work has been displayed in museums all over the world and includes the first pieces of modern glasswork acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He spent every summer from 1976 to 1984 as a visiting scholar and taught a printmaking class in 1987 at the Penland School of Craft.

Stephen Dee Edwards (1954-) Glass artist and educator. Former Penland School of Crafts resident (1980-1983) and now studio owner near Penland, N.C. He has also taught at the school many times since his residency. President emeritus of the international Glass Art Society. His work can be found in museum collections across the globe.

Don Wilcox (1933-2018) was an artist, art educator, and poet, partner of Louise Moore Todd. Don and Louise moved to the Penland area in 1978. Don taught printmaking at the Penland School of Crafts in 1984, a special artist book class in 1983, and was a visiting scholar in 1977 and 1979 for poetry. He also regularly traveled to Nepal, Denmark, and Thailand to advocate for disability rights. He also wrote many books about crafts, design, poetry, disability, and children's books.

Louise Cope Todd (1933-2020) was a fiber artist and educator. Louise worked in universities and craft schools across the U.S., including the Penland School of Crafts where she taught textile workshops from 1970 to 1983.

Marvin Jensen (1945-) is a metalsmith specializing in the traditional Japanese layered metal technique called mokume-gane (wood-grained). Since 1983 he has lectured and given workshops at many universities in hollowware, anodizing and mokume-gane. He has taught frequently at the Penland School of Crafts (1982-2000) and was an assistant to the director in 1982 and 1983; from 1985-1992 he was studio and program coordinator for metals, iron and sculpture studios. In 1984 he established Jensen Studio near the school where he works as a metalsmith, machinist and a designer of wood and metal furniture.

Doug Sigler (1941-2018) was a woodworker, furniture maker, architect, and educator. He first taught at Penland School in 1964 and began building a home near the school in 1978. Along with his friend and teacher Skip Johnson, Doug worked closely with Penland’s second director Bill Brown to establish woodworking as a regular program at Penland. He taught full-time until 2000 and regularly taught workshops with the school until 2017. He designed and built his own home, and many others, near the school.

Dolph Smith (1934-) is a bookmaker, educator, and painter. Smith taught for many years at Memphis College of Art and retired in 1995. In 2004, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at the Memphis College of Art. He taught book art workshops at the Penland School of Crafts from 1988 to 2003.

Norm Schulman (1924-2014) was a Penland School of Craft resident in 1971, funded by the NEA as a special six–month residency.

Gary Beecham (1955-) is a glass artist with influence in ancient glassblowing techniques. Beecham also owns a glass studio in N.C. and is an educator in glass blowing since teaching a class at the Penland School of Crafts in 1984. He apprenticed under Harvey Littleton in Spruce Pine, N.C.

Mark Peiser (1938-) is a master glass artist. He is a founder of the Glass Art Society of which he is an Honorary Lifetime Member. His work is included in many public and private collections throughout the world. Mark first studied piano composition in college and took a five week glass class at the Penland School of Crafts in 1967 and later became the first Resident Craftsman in Glass at the school. He was a resident artist at the Penland School of Crafts from 1967 to 1970. He was also a visiting scholar, many times in the 1970-80s and taught glass classes at the school from 1968 to 2004.

Ken Carder first worked as an assistant to Harvey Littleton until becoming a full time studio artist, when he became an Artist in Residence at the Penland School of Craft in 1984. Since then he has continued to work with glass as well as with other mediums and has maintained various studios in North Carolina and Connecticut (1990-1997). His work has been exhibited internationally and is in numerous private and public collections. He lives near Boone in the mountains of western North Carolina and shares a studio with his wife, ceramic artist and educator Lisa Stinson.

Mary Belle Cannon (1901- 1994) For over 30 years Mary Cannon was an expected fixture during the summer months at Penland. A native of Honea Path, South Carolina and long-time resident of Raleigh, North Carolina, Mary began coming to Penland around 1957. For most of those summers Mary was in charge of the school supply store; but, she could be found anywhere at Penland “taking care of things.” There are legendary tales of Mary Cannon running male students out of the third floor women’s dorm space of Craft House, placing handwritten directives in all over the campus, monitoring the women’s bathrooms to see who was using too much water, and obsessively collecting the empty coke bottles found about the campus. Mary Cannon was a much beloved and highly acclaimed ninth grade math teacher. She was twice a Fulbright Exchange teacher, having the opportunity to teach at Manchester, England in 1947-48 and in Vancouver, Canada in 1952-53. In March 1958 Mary was named Raleigh’s Teacher of the Year and the following month she was awarded the first statewide “Oscar for Teachers.” When she retired in 1969 she boasted of never having missed a day of teaching in 46 years.

Chris Felver (1946-) is a photographer, filmmaker of the arts, and cultural documentarian. Felver has many books of photo collections of public figures and his works have also shown in museums across the U.S. California Clay in the Rockies was one of his first well-known documentaries from 1983 and includes some of the Penland School of Crafts' artists.


Penland School of Craft


Circa 1985










Nottingham, Walter; Streetman, Evon; studio tour; crafts; artists; Perisho, Flossie; Brown, Jane; McKinney, Jessie; Berensohn, Paulus; Brown, Bill; Dan Bailey; Pierschalla, Michael; Bringle, Cynthia; Littleton, Harvey; Edwards, Stephen Dee; Wilcox, Don; Cope, Louise Todd; Jensen, Marvin; Cair, Woody; Sigler, Doug; Smith, Dolph; Schulman, Norm; Beecham, Gary; Bringle, Edwina; Peiser, Mark; Carder, Ken; Cannon, Mary; Felver, Chris