Next week, Arrowmont will host its first Spring Pentaculum – a weeklong event that is specifically designed to provide artists with unfettered time and space to work alongside peers, friends and colleagues.
Pentaculum grew from a 20-person ceramics retreat led by Jason Burnett in 2012 to an annual invitational experience for over 100 participants across multiple disciplines. Anyone interested in the opportunity is encouraged to contact Nick DeFord, Arrowmont Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018-2019 Artist-in-Residence Sasha Baskin participated in Pentaculum V in January 2019, and shares her reflections below.
In the middle of Pentaculum my fifteen-year-old-car died. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are real life realities to living at a craft school. When our campus fills up with excited fresh faces I want to join in. I want to stay up until 2AM talking about yarn and weaving and art and singing Karaoke and dancing at the brewery. And then I wake up in the morning and get in my car to run some errands and the battery has died.
I spent the first two days of Pentaculum fully immersed in the residency along with all of artists on campus. I worked the sign in desk and offered maps and schedules and introduced myself to all the new faces. I sipped wine at the wine social in the library and caught up with old Arrowmont work-study friends and former craft school friends that I had met at residencies past. Monday and Tuesday I floated around the studio taking photos and asking questions.
Tuesday night I cleaned up my studio for the Open Studio night. I had just started working on a new large-scale lace piece and was excited to get some feedback on it. The people who came by were interested and engaged and talked to me about my time at Arrowmont and what would be coming next. A few VCU alums were on campus and we chatted about the changes we’d seen in our grad program and how our experiences were alike and similar if years apart. Former Arrowmont residents popped by and reminisced about the house I’m now living in and the studio I’m now working in and how they had slightly rearranged the furniture when they were in my place.
The night progressed into Karaoke, a time-honored tradition of Arrowmont and a centerpiece of the week of Pentaculum. I sipped a drink at the Brewery and sang along with Madonna songs and the main theme from Little Mermaid; a group of women at my table all unexpectedly joined in for the all important line “Betcha on land they understand, bet they don’t reprimand their daughters, bright young women, sick of swimming, ready to stand” and I felt like we had found something beautiful and specific in common in a simple Disney lyric.
I walked home with my roommates, fellow artists in residents, happy to have this beautiful group of people sharing my home with me this week and slightly grumpy with myself that I had planned to run an errand to Asheville the following day and wouldn’t be able to ride this good feeling and sleep in.
I woke up and bundled up for the cold January morning, got into my car and it wouldn’t start. The car was old and the driver’s side door had been broken for months, I usually rolled down the window and opened it from the outside – a ritual I had gotten used to and was only really annoyed by in the pouring rain. But with a dead battery and power windows and locks, I was now locked inside my tiny car. I texted a roommate and she came to rescue me and the rest of my house of Artists in Residence joined together to give me a jump and send me on what would become a three-day-journey of car repairs. I drove back and forth to Sevierville and Knoxville and talked to mechanics and car dealers and made big financial decisions about a car that has been in my life since I was seventeen.
Every evening I would rejoin Pentaculum, exhausted by real-life realities and delighted to jump back into the craft school magic. I felt like I was living a double life, jumping back and forth between used car dealerships and passionate busy studios.
Thursday night I dropped off a T-shirt to get screen printed with the beautiful Pentaculum design created by the 2D studio and chatted for an hour with a group of artists about car mechanics, residencies, real life, and pop culture. When I look at that T-shirt now I can hear that conversation that covered so many different facets of my life at Arrowmont. A year-long residency means that a residency stops being a retreat and becomes some combination of a magical place and your real life. You pay bills, your car breaks down, you meet amazing people, you have revolutionary conversations.