Arrowmont Connections Update: 2019-20 AIR Luke Huling shares insights into his end-of-residency work and post-residency experiences

Luke Huling is a 2019-20 Arrowmont Artist-in-Residence. He shares reflections of his time following the end of his Arrowmont residency in spring 2020 in the following blog and insights into the concept and approach to his work in the end-of-residency group exhibit, “Loose Connections” last March.

Click the video image above or visit to watch Luke discuss his work in the Spring 2020 AIR exhibition, Loose Connections.

On March 20th 2020, the four other residents and I were just finishing setting up our final show, Loose Connections, when we got called in for a staff meeting. The executive director announced that due to COVID-19, Arrowmont would be temporarily shutting down. That meant the show opening would most likely be canceled. It was a strange feeling. Just a couple months prior Arrowmont was booming with students from the community. I was teaching Community Classes, and we had busloads of kids coming to campus for our ArtReach Program.

I came to the realization that this pandemic would cut my residency short, and I would soon be without a studio.

Within a week or so, COVID cases were on the rise. I remember taking a walk on the Gatlinburg main strip and seeing more ducks and pigeons than people. All of the tourist attractions were shut down and there wasn’t that familiar faint smell of corndogs and moonshine in the distance. It was peaceful yet extremely eerie…

It was around this time that I left and moved back to Bloomington, Indiana. Most of my scheduled art opportunities were put on hold and the uncertainty was starting to get to me.

Like most artists, I feel this unexplainable urge to constantly be making something and I needed an outlet until I could get my hands on clay again.

One day after a lightning storm in Bloomington, I noticed a bunch of debris on the ground from the trees in our front yard. I took one of the branches and carved a cooking utensil. Then the next day I made another, and another, and another. I made these spoons every day and decided to make a little series out of it and share it on my Instagram (@lukehuling). This “Spoon a Day” exercise was a wonderful way for me to keep my hands moving and my mind at peace during quarantine. Click here to read more about “Spoon a Day” on the Arrowmont Connections blog.

A term I was becoming all too familiar with was “hiring freeze.” Many of the colleges I applied to were unable to hire new instructors due to COVID. Although a couple months into my “Spoon a Day” series, I received a call from the Indianapolis Art Center and I was hired to teach a five-week ceramics course. The people and facilities there are wonderful, and I highly recommend checking out their classes if you live close by!

Soon after teaching in Indianapolis, I received another call, this time from Sandhills Community College in North Carolina (a college I applied to earlier in the year). They informed me the hiring freeze ended and they offered me a position! I was shocked, excited, and so thankful for such an amazing opportunity. I packed up all of my spoons and moved my things to Southern Pines, North Carolina! The weather here is amazing and I thoroughly enjoy teaching at the college level. Currently I am teaching 3D Design, 2D Design, and Ceramics. Each course is split into two sections and also has a virtual component due to COVID. It’s a little bit of a strange time to be starting a new career but I couldn’t be any happier! I really enjoy all the other faculty members and I can really imagine being here for a while.

I truly believe being a resident at Arrowmont has helped me grow in my field in more ways than I can imagine. My time might have been cut short but I have developed long lasting connections, skillsets, and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Everywhere I go, every job I interviewed for, every gallery I show with, someone has a connection to Arrowmont. The art world is large yet I seem to always find people who have a special spot in their heart for Arrowmont, and I am right there with them! I look forward to Arrowmont’s reopening and am excited to one day teach on the campus again!



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