ECVA Newsletter

July, 2004


Penland: Enhancing the Life of the Artist

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Penland School of Crafts is celebrating 75 years as a center for craft education. On 400 picturesque acres, Penland has grown from a school teaching weaving to local mountain women, to a school with an international reputation offering classes in traditional and contemporary forms of basketry, clay, glass, textiles, metalwork, woodwork, photography, printmaking, and painting.

Penland is unique with classes held in the form of workshops in a setting more like an apprenticeship. Here instructors are less likely to be university faculty members, but working studio artists who may not teach anywhere else. It is a curriculum that is always changing with the instructors and provided by some of the most respected artists in the world of craft. But there is something special about this place in the mountains that keeps people coming back and sometimes does not let go. There are 100 studios within 15 miles of the school. It is a place where both student and instructor experience something that is considered spiritual as well as educational. An experience that Penland's founder "truly believed would enhance the family life, the home life, and the individual's life" according to current director Jean McLaughlin.

So what does Penland have to do with the Episcopal Church?

Rufus Morgan, an Episcopal Priest, established the Appalachian Industrial School in this remote area in 1913. It was a vocational mission school meant to provide economic support to the mountain families. His sister, Lucy Morgan, came to the school in 1920 to teach weaving. Miss Lucy (as she was known) organized the Penland Weavers in 1923. When guest instructors and outside students began to arrive in 1929, the original mission school became the Penland School of Craft. She would continue to expand and guide the school until 1962.

Although the school is no longer associated with the church, Lucy Morgan's original vision of combining spiritual guidance with the need to preserve the Appalachian culture is still felt there today. It was from this talented Episcopal woman that her vision of learning and creating has grown to be the internationally recognized center for craft education that it is today. As glass artist and long-time Penland instructor Robert Levin has said, "working with your hands and directly with materials is an important way of learning and feeding your soul."

Dan Hardison
Editor, The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts

To celebrate Penland's 75th anniversary, a hardback illustrated book has been released titled The Nature of Craft and the Penland Experience by Lark Books. To learn more about Penland School of Crafts, visit



Community Arts

King of Peace Labyrinth
King of Peace Episcopal Church
Kingsland, Georgia

A journey began in 2000 when a group came together to form a new Episcopal congregation and began holding worship services in a house. Three and a half years later, their path has led them to the dedication of their newly constructed church building. They also constructed a sanctuary with a labyrinth built into the floor with 43,000 marble tiles.

More . . .


Visual Essay

Magnum Mysterium
By Inga Dubay

Inspired by the motet, O Magnum Mysterium, Inga Dubay has created a series of 9 paintings interpreting the choral work. "The layering of various media, together with the central gesture, are for me a visual metaphor of the words and harmonies of the music."

More . . .



  About ECVA      
The mission of The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts (ECVA) is to encourage artists, individuals, congregations, and scholars to engage the visual arts in the spiritual life of the church. ECVA values the significance of visual imagery in spiritual formation and the development of faith, and creates programs to support those who are engaged in using the visual arts in spiritual life.

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