Penland 08 - Part 3

One of the pleasures of my two weeks at Penland was getting to spend a little time with my friend, Margaret, one of Penland's resident artists. Part of the fun was visiting her studio and taking a look at some of her new work. Margaret is one of ten-or-so resident artists at the school, which has a highly-competitive resident artist program, providing artists with studio space, housing, and most importantly, a community of like-minded folk, opportunities for artistic collaboration, and an intensely creative atmosphere.

I met Margaret Couch Cogswell in an artists' books class we took at BookWorks. My first introduction to her work was by way of her project for the class. The shape of a canned-ham can had caught her eye at the grocery store. She didn't want to waste the ham, so she took it to the local homeless shelter and kept the can. She painted it, attached wheels to it -- reminding me a bit of a vintage Airstream travel trailer standing on one end -- and made a book that hung inside the can. The result was both weighty and whimsical and so...., well, so Margaret.

Next, her cloth books captured my attention. It wasn't just the way that she combined colors and fabrics -- although that made me look twice; it was the elements she worked into them -- geometric and organic shapes that turned into characters, whether or not they were definable as such. These characters, which find their way into many of her mixed media pieces, seem to be related, residents of a community that exists in a parallel universe in a corner of Margaret's brain.

Then there's the eclecticism of Margaret's work. She makes crowns that no self-respecting, self-anointed, prince or princess should be without (see image above right), fanciful figures that beg to sit on your desk (see the pencil, clip, and paper creation below), cool stuff on wheels, lovely calendars, and cheerful metal and wire repositories for unique books (see one such piece from an exhibition at Penland's Gallery last year).

Visiting her studio at Penland made me salivate. It's spacious, with large double doors at one end to let in light, breezes and views (they're huge windows, really, since it's a second-story studio, and stepping out the doors would make for a long drop). Margaret's dog, Tessie, no fool she, has claimed the spot in front of the doors as her lounging area.

Margaret teaches both at BookWorks and at Cloth Fiber Workshop.

Looking in from the large double doors

An accordion book

Prints. -- These two sold while I was in the studio.

I love the pairing of these utiliarian objects with a book-page tutu.

A wall piece with layers and stitching (and great colors!)

A book with its own means of transportation -- a movable feast, so to speak.


Riverlark said...

Thanks for this reminder of Margaret's work, BG. I fell in love with her style and it was so fun to see the environment that Penland has provided her.

Anonymous said...

Oh, to spend time at Penland. I can only dream about it right now, but someday...

Wonderful pictures. These pieces are inspiring.