Hello from Wrap Artists

Greetings everyone,

This post acts as an introduction of ourselves – Ray Baccari & Morgan Kennedy – and our residency project at The Bascom in Highlands, NC – hear + there. Additionally, this marks the end of the first week of the Winter Residency Artist Program (WRAP). We’ll be updating this blog about once or twice a week, with updates on the project, and a little information about ourselves along the way. To begin, we’d like to take this time to introduce ourselves, along with links to information concerning our project, hear + there.

Links to info on the project: Project Page, Artist Statement, Walks, and installations

Ray Baccari was born in Landstuhl, Germany and grew up just outside of Washington DC.  He received his BFA in Painting from George Mason University, and is currently an MFA Candidate at Western Carolina University (WCU).  His focus at WCU deals with the labors associated with events, how that information is embedded in everyday objects, and how to recall that information through play in the form of sound.  The end result of these projects is interactive sound-based sculpture.  These sculptures incorporate audio and visual representation of the objects associated with these events.  In addition to his studies at WCU, Ray is also a father of a 1 year old, who likes to keep him on his toes with impromptu dance parties at home.


Morgan Kennedy is an artist who works in a multi-medium cross-disciplinary direction that he defines as sculpture.   The translation of story into form is central to his work. These stories often are related to the human condition and a particular environment that is seen and unseen while attempting to define the relationships and boundaries that exist between them.  He looks to interpret the role of form and how it aids his understanding of the self and place. 

Kennedy has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, including the Kim Foster Gallery in New York, and most recently, Gallery 126 in Galway, Ireland and the Bascom Center for the Arts Loft Gallery in Highlands, NC.  He has attended the Kohler Arts Industry Ceramic program, the Bemis Art Residency and is currently at the Bascom Center for the Arts Winter residency. His works have received several artist merits including the Eben Demarest Trust, The Virginia Museum Visual Arts Fellowship and the Maryland Arts Council award. He received a BA in General Arts from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. and an MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.  Kennedy is the assistant professor / area head of Sculpture at Western Carolina University. She lives and works in Cullowhee, North Carolina at 4500ft. with his wife, two kids and flock of wild mallard ducks.


If you’d like to keep up with the residency goings on between blog posts, you can follow us on Instagram. Ray Baccari & Morgan Kennedy

Organizing an International Portfolio or 9 months, 460 prints, and 20 artists later.

Y’all… I have been busy. With teaching, creating work for exhibitions both at the Bascom and beyond I took on the opportunity to curate an international portfolio. To back track a bit, I am a member of SGC International, which is *the* major organization internationally connected to Printmaking. Each year, a conference is held which highlights major advances in printmaking, exhibitions, panels, and demonstrations. Part of the exhibition components are the portfolios. Back in May of 2017, I submitted a proposal to be considered for conference’s line up, but also to be considered for the SGCI’s permanent collection at The Zuckerman Museum of Art.

The proposed portfolio was as followed:

Quilts are born from the endless scraps and pieces of a life lived. Compiled through countless geometric shapes, this varied landscape appears. It is one of the first landscapes we notice, as children we drive toy cars over its cotton hills or as an adult notice the rumpled topography after sleep. We record our memories and travels in quilts picking out a long, lost aunt’s sundress on a worn, sunlight quilt top; these objects become an abstracted landscape. This portfolio merges the traditions of piecing and printing in creating a quilt square that reflects the journey of both art forms   Participants will be asked to consider their memories present and past, as they work within both crafts.
The unique aspect of this portfolio is how the print is dealt with and abstracted (or revealed). Participants will create a print on fabric or cloth substrates. Participants will then piece it using a solid or other printed paper or cloth in traditional or non traditional quilt squares. Prints may be machine or hand pieced. These squares will be exhibited in a grid, creating the illusion of a quilt  from the pieced prints. In addition to exhibiting at SGCI, the portfolio will be exhibited at The Bascom: A Center for Visual Arts in Highlands, NC. Participants will be notified about exhibition details.
*Size of prints: 12”x12” , each edition contains 23 (slight variation expected) pieced quilt squares.One edition will go to SGC International Archives at the Zuckerman Museum of Art and one Edition will go to the host institution, University of Nevada.  
*Participants may chose to print on either paper or cloth substrates. Other materials should be discussed with organizer. Squares should be shipped with glassine between each square.

So after being accepted, I set forth with fingers crossed. I had several artists that I wanted to participate, and I would cull the rest from the open call. Between June and July, I received over 80 submissions for the 20 slots in the portfolio. I had a couple of criteria when curating the portfolio:

  1. I wanted a good cross-section of Professional (Academic), Professional ( Non academic), Emerging( Post MFA or MFA), and Emerging (Post BFA or BFA). I didn’t necessarily want a ‘Who’s Who’ of Printmaking, but create an opportunity as others had for me in the past.
  2. A good handling of similar work–This was a pretty challenging portfolio–Not only are you handling printed material, but also piecework–so working in tandem with that and creating an edition of 23 prints. The portfolio, for me at least, is a printmaking coming out for me–as an interdisciplinary printmaker, I wanted to use my momentum from Arrowmont and the upswing of interest in interdisciplinary printmaking at the conference to create an opportunity to printmakers like myself. I wasn’t looking for one off projects, but for artists that have some sort of sustained practice in working with print in unconventional ways.

After the selection process, It was really just a lot of emailing for nine months. And nail-biting. And swearing at my computer. But…fast forward to March and I found myself in Printmaking Christmas. Editions were rolling in, and were even better than I expected. Especially with portfolios, it is hard to predict what you will get–there are so many different variables in the process.


The participants are as followed:

Kelsey Reiman, Catherine Reinhart, Luca Cruzat, Grant Benoit, Hannah March Sanders, Erich and Barb Nietzke, Evgenia Kim, Ani Volkan, Barbara Westman, Jess Hill, Henry Gepher, HC Ying, Kerri Cushman, Laura Koch, Landa King, Kelly Sullivan, Lauren Medford, Kelly Sullivan, and Lara Fairbanks.

Currently, I am in the administration part of the process. All the prints–over 460 squares need to be collated into individual portfolios for the participants and for the Permanent Collections. I just installed an edition at The Bascom’s Education Gallery that will be on display until April 29th. The portfolio will then be on display during the conference 3-6th of April in Las Vegas. After that, two portfolios will go to permanent collections–the SGCI permanent collection at The Zuckerman Museum of Art and The University of Nevada.

Art Box at the Wiregrass Museum of Art

Recently, I found myself down in Dothan, AL for the first time. And while I’m familiar with coastal Alabama, Dothan and The Wiregrass were a great discovery. Why was I down there? I was invited, along with four other regional artists ( Claire Lewis of Tuscaloosa, Jacob Phillips of Birmingham, Melinda Kellenberger of Dothan and RC Hagans of Opelika to be mentors for an Annual tri-state competition at the museum during Youth Art Month (which is held every March, nationwide). High school art groups from Georgia, Florida and Alabama sent in miniature sculptures to be judged and were narrowed down to five groups. These five groups would spend two days creating an installation to an unknown prompt with unknown materials. The prize? $500.00 donated to the winning school’s art program.



Day One: Mentors, Teams, and locations were pulled at random during orientation. After orientation, My high school group, Enterprise High School were assigned one of the Permanent Collection Galleries with the theme ‘Power’. I spent an hour with the group and then I rotated with the other mentors for most of the day, giving the students different perspectives and trade secrets the rest of the day. While I offered up many thoughts and suggestions–think of me as the Tim Gunn of the Art Box competition, I wanted my students to consider their needs and wants. What are the absolute essentials needed to convey the idea of power in the work. Can you do this with three elements? Two? My students, with the very timely idea of power and being all female, liked this idea of taking power–that it can be strong, but can vary in intent. They made packing tape molds of their hands and worked on creating a three dimensional globe that would be suspended from the ceiling. The day ended with the mentors going group by group and offering an in progress critique.


Day Two: The second day was the race to 3pm, when the spaces needed to be cleaned and ready for judging. The day before ended with me wondering how the group, which had three less than most of the other competing groups, would be able to complete in time. After painting the packing tape hands and arranging them in a reaching cluster, the students really focused on problem solving the globe. The inside was collaged with newspapers was then covered in sections with chicken wire so that cut outs of the continents floated over the collaged interior. While the mayhem was happening, Wiregrass was conducting student video interviews to document the progress and thought process. The Students wrapped up without much incident and the judging began. The forty so students all travelled from installation site to installation site with the judge received critique and answered questions on their process and statement.


The awards were announced during the reception for the youth art exhibition, and I was really happy to hear that my students received the winning award. They really worked hard and challenged themselves to create the installation–I know their teachers and principal will be happy with the award and donation!


I always love going to new art centers and see how programs and exhibitions are handled. If you ever find yourself in Dothan, check out The Wiregrass–The spaces and work are really great and they always have some sort of programming happening. Thanks again to Amanda Holcomb and Dana Marie Lemmer for letting me participate as a mentor!


Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. : Creating a repeat pattern.

As many of you might know by now, pattern is the name of my game. I create repeat patterns (generally by hand) for screen printing paper yardage for wallpaper. I’m creating this post to talk a bit about my process, but also to celebrate receiving my fabric I designed through Spoonflower, a small run fabric design company. Generally, I am a bit of Luddite, or a glutton for punishment, and this was ( beyond some digital printing) was a first foray into that digital design world. Just your basic cotton, but the print translated well and even though there was a wait ( maybe I’m just impatient) I was generally happy for with the product. For a small trial run, and a small area needing upholstery, I’m pleased with the $35 I spent on 2 yards.

**Demo after image!


So how do I start off? I typically try to start with a square format, or if not a sheet of gridded paper–this will make more since as you try it yourself.

  1. Create  pattern in the center of your sheet of paper. While I am just doing a pencil sketch, digitally reproducing your pattern allows you to paint, collage, layer, etc to create a richer, more visually interesting product. Consider how you could mix things up. For me, it’s a basic sketch of weird, late 1700’s porcelain figurine with pugs…thinking about other porcelain things.

28313237_10156070029408764_753377613_n.jpg2.  Cut your drawing in half down the exact middle of your design. Do not panic–this is where a grid paper rough draft works wonders. Use a ruler and a sharp blade and it will be fantastic.


  1. 28341078_10156070029383764_1609487030_o.jpg3.  Take your two halves and flip them so there is now an open space in the middle vertically. Tape the two halves neatly on the back…You may need to fiddle with it to make things line up. Continue to fill the empty space, but don’t go all the way to the top and bottom edge.

28340427_10156070029078764_494201834_o.jpg4.  Alright, heavy breathing again. Measure carefully and cut the design in half horizontally. Flip it again so there is an empty space horizontally. Tape carefully. By now your central design element should be visible in all four corners. Finish by filling any empty areas.

28459776_10156070028818764_2064194710_o.jpg5. You are now ready to drop this into Photoshop or illustrator. My favorite is to use the trusty copy machine. Make a couple of copies to check the repeat. I like to leave a tab on two sides–top and one of the sides, and to cut the bottom and remaining side flush to the design. Now you are able to match and tape your pattern to check!

You can check out more of my work and process via instagram at @grantbenoit or at my website www.grantbenoit.com.

Studio Happenings

This past week, I had less teaching  and a bit more concentrated studio time. So naturally, I spent it in the studio. What was I doing you may ask? I’ve been wallpapering a bentwood rocker, printing some stationary and textile for the B Gallery and Arrowmont Gallery Store, as well as testing out things for various workshops.

IMG_3130 2

Typically I screen print my wallpaper, though for this project I deviated and printed the pattern digitally. It was from a drawing and I enjoyed the looseness and texture so I wanted to keep it true to the original. I am also ordering upholstery fabric in the same pattern from Spoonflower, so I wanted to keep the output similar. Below is the repeat of the pattern:

FullSizeRender 12

I camouflage these furniture pieces to talk about threshold theory in memory, or the instance when walking into another room and becoming disoriented in place and space. The pattern flattens and distorts the furniture, and the form of the furniture disrupts the pattern, causing the viewer to immediately stop and find a moment to discern space in order to understand both.  I have also been working with transforming crown molding and how I can segment and curl it. Working with a couple of different patterns, I made some plaster press molds that I’ll create some more curvilinear moldings for compositions.

Back Again!

I’ve been away for two weeks assisting Jerry Jackson and Jane Wells Harrison at Penland for their workshop ‘Reconsidered’, which was primarily about material exploration, encaustic collage, and assemblage work–All which I’m excited to incorporate into my classes at the Bascom.

But man was it a exciting reintroduction to reality: Collective Spirits, new exhibitions, and my first classes of the summer. The Highlands Recreation is merging science and art together in STEAM based classes that are focusing on outer space. Our first camp focused on the planets with the kids actually orbiting as the respective planets and creating their own planetary sun catchers. I want the kids to learn information and then use their own imaginations to build on those facts.  Will Barclift and I have been plotting how to bring Printmaking into the light again and making use of a really great Conrad press. Cashiers Senior Center printed mono prints and the Boys and Girls Club printed silkscreen patterns a la Corita Kent.

Two Weeks in

Much has happened since first starting here at The Bascom. A good bit of moving and reorganizing, but also being able to start experiencing the classes and groups that Bascom Outreach works with. I’ve been plotting out some, what I hope, to be exciting programming for summer and can’t wait to get started teaching. Also, if you have never been to the Bascom–Come visit! I’ve been really impressed with the exhibitions–present and future- and the programming that happens alongside exhibitions, from panel discussions, giant pinhole cameras and activities for all ages and interests.

I’ve also been busy getting my studio set up in the Bascom before I head out to assist ‘Reconsidered’, a mixed media workshop taught by Jerry Jackson and Jane Wells Harrison at Penland School of Arts. I’m really grateful to have a place to continue my studio practice and love being in the midst of all the activity in the Bascom–So stop downstairs and say hi!

In between plotting summer programming and getting settled in, I’ve been putting in some studio time in preparation for a couple of exhibitions coming up. I was honored to be invited to participate in an exhibition, In/Home at The Printmaking Center of New Jersey with Hannah and Blake Sanders, Josh Dannin, and Myles Calvert this summer and then in an exhibition this fall at Morehead State University with Hunter Stabler, Julie Abijanac, Laura Alexander, Andrea Myers, and Lauren Kussro. Excited to be busy producing. Currently on the table are some dresden plate piecework made from silkscreened wallpaper and a new, soon to be, three color wallpaper.

I’ll be gone until June 10th, but after that come past and say hi–I have a comfy studio chair with your name on it.



New Beginnings at 4,117′

Beginnings and endings are always pretty tricky. However, I’ll worry about the endings till later since I am at the beginning of my time at the Bascom. My name is Grant Benoit (Ben-wah) and I am joining the Bascom as the 2017-18 Community Artist in Residence.

Growing up in a much lower elevation than that of Highlands, in Lafayette, LA (ringing in at 36′ above sea level), there is a bit of a driving learning curve, but I’m already loving my new surroundings. My parents are both musicians and educators, so the arts and learning were strongly embraced in my childhood ( there was never the awkward ‘I’m going into the arts conversation’). I received a dual emphasis in printmaking and ceramics from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL in 2012 and then went on to receive my Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking from Southern Illinois University in 2015. After that, I taught some Community College courses, waited tables at a very fancy historic Inn, taught ceramics classes at a community studio in Natchez MS. From Natchez, I moved to Gatlinburg, TN were I served as the 2-d Artist-in-Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts for 11 months. And now I am here, very excited to get started at the Bascom.

While my background is in printmaking, the work that I create isn’t solely a print you can put in a frame. Most of my studio practice involves printing wallpaper through screen printing, relief, and intaglio processes to use in sculptures and installations. So below are some images of a 6 color screen printed wallpaper that I printed 50 feet of. I like patterns…A lot. From there I take the lengths of paper and cut them into traditional quilt piecework and sew them into  larger panels–Ill continue this process until I get the surface I want. Sewing and mending in my work is just as important as the printmaking.

My work explores memory and how we talk about it. For me studying the mind and how memory scientifically works is very disparate to how emotionally I am connected to memory or how we as humans talk about memory. I look at the topic through the scope of the domestic space and objects we handle, creating metaphors to break down the complexities of the invisible processes of memory.

That’s it for now! If you are interested in seeing more of my work or want to follow my day to day in the studio check out my website and instagram. And keep tuned into the Bascom Life blog!

website: www.grantbenoit.com and my instagram: @grantbenoit

Two Weeks of Photos, Faeries and Future projects!

I hope y’all are having a good night!

I know, I know, I am behind the times on updating my wonderful adventures at the Bascom!


Boys & Girls Club

So the week before last I had the pleasure of teaching an art project with the Boys & Girls Club. Our project was to go outside on the trail and take photos using silhouettes of animals found in North Carolina. It was a great project and a lot of fun! Sadly, weather compromised our adventure for the first session, but here at the Bascom we don’t let weather stop us in our art making! Instead we went throughout the Bascom to find images, artwork or places that would make cool imagery within the silhouette!


The second session of students were able to go out onto the trail and to take photos using different elements of nature to make their art! Both sessions were quite successful and is a project that anyone can do at home with their children!


Art By Appointments

My art by appointments are growing and I am getting such a great opportunity to work with some really talented and bright students in Highlands.  There a few similarities in what they want to learn but overall. Each of them are working on different projects. Alex finished his self portrait about two weeks ago. Now, we are working on creating two images to work with dry and wet mixed media. Kara Lynn is experimenting with charcoal and trying to learn how to do portraits and figures better!  Sophie is experimenting with digital painting and our next meeting will start her project in digital painting. Leah, the latest student I’m working with is finishing up her insect illustrations from a previous instructor.  So much creativity and talent and so little time… my time at the Bascom is slowly coming to an end in roughly a month, but I plan to find my way back after I finish my MFA! Let us see what happens.


Rec. Center Self Portraits!

At the Rec. Center we are starting to work on Expressive Self-Portraits!  This past week we worked on creating the backgrounds for our self-portraits and this upcoming week, we’ll be finishing them. So creative and colorful, it experimented with soft pastels which became such a fun messy experience!


Faerie Festival!

This past Saturday at the Nature Center was the Faerie festival! I held a workshop where the kids participating could make their own faeries, color them, cut them out and tape them to sticks! It was a lot of fun and a great time all around!



Calling All Artists within Western North Carolina!

I am currently working with our  Art Education Resident Kristina Baker on working on some prints to create based from her paintings – imagery, concepts, etc. We are still in sketch and layout phase, but as we continue on, in this project I will be posting the process! If you are interested please let me know!


I will meet  with artist(s) they create a piece of art  and then I interpret it into a print. The prints will be theirs in authorship (signage) and we will make an edition (10-15) . Their will be a split 60/40%  between me and the artists. The prints that I collect go to the Bascom to sell in their shop or to use in auctions and/or events.

Right now, I want the experience but if things go well the idea will probably grow. Let us find out!

Please email me if you are interested in this opportunity!

Once again, thanks for reading and I hope to see you at the Bascom!

-Cecily Brooke Howell

A Weekend of Birthdays!

Hello, Hello to All!

I hope your 4th of July weekend is going well! I started mine out this past Friday with my Birthday. It was a blast, everyone at the Bascom kept giving me well wishes through out the day. Later most of us went and celebrated at the Brewery and then El Azteca and played a card game in-between. I finished the night with a fellow resident, Kristina for an adventure to find something sweet. We found it at Kilwins, I bought myself some and the both of us and Byron (the other resident) watched Zootopia.

Also, THANK YOU KRISTINA FOR THE GIFT!!!  Kristina made this wonderful gift, a project that her students at Cherokee Summer Camp at the Bascom made. There are plenty of camps left and there are plenty of amazing projects left for them to do this summer!

Camps Left:

Of course, this weekend is July 4th, have a happy 4th! Please be safe and kind tomorrow. A lot people, emotions and excitement tomorrow.

This past week has been a fun filled adventure of teaching at the Rec. Camp a couple of Art By Appointments and peaked interest in the printmaking call I posted in the last blog. The Art by Appointments, is giving me the opportunity to work with Bascom’s  two student art fellowship winners. Alex and Sophie, both extremely talented and full with potential. As we start on going forward with projects I will post that info along with all my other teachings and adventures in Highlands.

At the Rec. Center students made story stones (apologies no photos this week.) Story stones help kids learn the essential parts of a story, (characters and settings) the rest rely on them speaking and talking about the beginning,conflict,ending and any other types of narration. Appalachian and storytelling in general, focuses a lot on the verbal and this project works roughly the same way just a bit more push with simplified visuals of the necessities. Plus, this stones can continually be re-used to tell other stories or continue different re-interpretations.


Calling All Artists within Western North Carolina!

Last week, I gave you all an introduction of me and my artwork.  I am a printmaker and the Bascom has been great and supportive and helping me able to have an accessible space to do some printing. So beginning Monday I will be getting back into printmaking! I have sketches and ideas ready to become artwork. BUT and a big but to boot is that  I want to work with other artist. They don’t have to be printmakers, they can be painters, ceramists, sculptors… whatever media. I want to help make their work into prints and maybe spark a light for printmaking in them.


I will meet  with artist(s) they create a piece of art  and then I interpret it into a print. The prints will be theirs in authorship (signage) and we will make an edition (10-15) . Their will be a split 60/40%  between me and the artists. The prints that I collect go to the Bascom to sell in their shop or to use in auctions and/or events.

Right now, I want the experience but if things go well the idea will probably grow. Let us find out!

Please email me if you are interested in this opportunity!

Once again, thanks for reading and I hope to see you at the Bascom!

-Cecily Brooke Howell