Jean W. McLaughlin has been the executive director of the Penland School of Crafts since 1998. Since joining the school, McLaughlin has focused on strategic planning, external relations, facilities construction and renovation, board development, and fundraising. McLaughlin came to Penland after serving 16 years at the North Carolina Arts Council as Director of Visual Arts and later Director of the Office of Statewide Initiatives. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Mitchell County; Wildacres Retreat; and the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. She has served on the board of the Craft Emergency Relief Fund, chaired a USA fellowship panel, and served on numerous NEA panels. A native of North Carolina, McLaughlin holds an M.A. in Liberal Studies from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, North Carolina State University, and a B.A. in Studio Art with an emphasis in printmaking from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She also studied textiles at the California College of Arts and Crafts, NC State University, and Penland School of Crafts. In 2003, she completed “Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management” at the Harvard Business School.
Metalsmith Rachelle Thiewes creates jewelry designed to engage and challenge, making the wearer an active participant, an initiator of sounds and body rhythms. Light, movement, sound, order and chaos are integral elements of her work. Thiewes’ art is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Museums of Scotland, Victoria & Albert Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Museum of Arts & Design, among others. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including Calder Jewelry, The Art of the Book, Jewellery Moves, One of a Kind: American Art Jewelry, The Best in Contemporary Jewellery, Jewellery in Europe and America: New Times New Thinking, American Craft and Metalsmith. In 2009, she was named a “Texas Master” by the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and, in 2010, was nominated for a United States Artist Fellowship. Thiewes received a summer 2009 Fiskars Artist Residency in Finland and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship, the University of Texas Regents Outstanding Award for Teaching, and Distinguished Achievement Awards for Research and Teaching at the University of Texas El Paso, where she is a Professor in the Department of Art.
Jade Walker is Director of the Visual Arts Center and the Creative Research Laboratory, Curator of the Courtyard Gallery, and Lecturer of Three-Dimensional Foundation in the Department of Art & Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. Walker graduated with a B.F.A. from the University of Florida in 2000 after attending Florida State, University of Northern Colorado, and University of South Florida. She earned her M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. Both degrees concentrated on sculpture. After graduating, she was employed as an arts administrator for the Austin Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria. Walker has attended residencies in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as Penland, North Carolina. Her work has been shown at the Austin Museum of Art, Conduit Gallery in Dallas, Gallery 621 in Tallahassee, and throughout Texas.