Two-year work-study fellowship

  • Applications accepted July 15 – October 9, 2024
  • Informational Zoom, September 9, 5-6pm ET.
    To register, email  with the subject “Core Informational Session.”

The Penland Core Fellowship Program is a two-year work-study fellowship for early career artists looking to expand technical skills and material fluency while working to support the day-to-day operations of a craft school. Artists of all backgrounds who want to advance their educational goals and explore their capacity to contribute to a thriving creative community are encouraged to apply. The goal of the program is to shape the future of contemporary craft by creating opportunity, connection, and immersive education for early career artists who bring a range of perspectives and goals to the school.

Penland core fellows fully engage with Penland by taking several workshops each year in familiar or new media, and performing integral jobs for the school. Penland’s ever-changing learning environment allows core fellows to study with world-class teaching artists from all over the US and abroad; this is a unique opportunity to create an educational path that responds to individual goals. The program can serve as preparation for careers in creative, non-profit, educational, and entrepreneurial sectors. A measure of the program’s success is the number of core fellows who have gone on to make a life in craft. To date over 200 people have participated in the program, and about 80% are practicing artists or professional contributors to the field of craft today.

The work that core fellows do for the school—jobs such as weekend cook, and entertainment coordinator—places them at the heart of Penland’s daily operations and gives them an opportunity to develop leadership skills and connect with artists from all over by working cooperatively towards a common goal. Core fellows are often a bridge between the staff and the studios and serve a unique role in helping others have a meaningful experience at Penland.

Core fellows live and work together and often learn as much from each other as they do from their instructors and mentors. In the process, they have a chance to form close friendships and often become part of each other’s lifelong creative and professional networks.


Applications are reviewed by a national panel of curators, educators, and other arts professionals as well as Penland staff. Panelists rotate each year to bring a range of new perspectives to the application process, and creating a diverse group of fellows is one of the stated goals of selection.

Specifically, applications will be reviewed with the following goals in mind:

  1. Program Goals
    We believe the Core Fellowship Program can shape the future of contemporary craft by providing access to artists who can benefit from what this program has to offer—especially artists who have historically been underrepresented at the school and within the field of craft. 
  2. Collaboration and Group Dynamic
    Core fellows share a house and are involved in collaborative tasks and decision-making along with the normal complexities of group living. They also work and take classes with a constantly changing community of instructors and students. We are looking for participants who can thrive as part of a group and community but also know when and how to step away and recharge as needed. Our goal is to bring together a diverse group of artists with a range of experience, perspectives, strengths, and goals. It is also important that the interests of each core group span a range of media taught at Penland.
  3. Relevant Experience
    Core fellows are asked to do many different kinds of work, ranging from basic physical labor to supervisory tasks. They must be adaptive to changing tasks and situations and committed to working cooperatively and confidently, sometimes with minimal direction or supervision. Penland staff will review each candidate’s application, CV, and reference to evaluate relevant experience (employment, internships, or volunteer work) and specific skills and accomplishments (what kind of work you have done, what contributions you have made, the consistency of your commitments, practical and/or supervisory experience). In addition to work experience, life experience and self-motivation are assets for this program. 
  4. Artwork
    We are looking for work that shows a strong foundation and enough direction to tell us that the candidate will be able to take advantage of what this unique program offers. The review panel will score each portfolio in the following areas: proficient and/or intentional execution; clear/unique point of view; inquisitiveness and versatility; their interest in the work and its potential for growth. Candidates must be interested in working with materials and processes that are at the heart of our immersive workshops.

Core Fellows 2020: Short Videos
Former Core Fellows


September 9, 5-6pm Eastern Time via Zoom. We will have a few fellows and staff to help answer questions about the program and application process.

To register, email  with the subject Core Informational Session.


We expect to have 5 openings in the program in 2025; there will be 4 two-year fellowships which will begin in February 2025 and end in February 2027. There will also be 1 one-year fellowship which will begin in February 2025 and end in February 2026.


Applications are accepted through SlideRoom from July 15, 2024 until the fall deadline, Oct 9, 2024. When the application is posted, you will find it here.


If you have questions related to the Core Fellowship Program, you can direct them to:

Luke Dawson, Programs Assistant
828-765-2359 ext. 1005


Core fellows work an average of 20-25 hours/week in various service positions. In addition to fulfilling their work responsibility to the school, they are considered fully participating students and are expected to be engaged, productive members of each class they take. Work responsibilities begin each year in late February and end just before Thanksgiving. There is no regular work obligation from late November until late February, so most core fellows take advantage of this time to dive deeply into studio work.


Penland provides housing throughout the year, tuition for classes, and meals while the school is in session (approximately 8 months of the year). Core fellows receive a stipend of $500 every two weeks. They are responsible for all personal expenses, studio fees, and art materials.

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