Townsend's fantastical wooden structures have a whimsical, playful quality reminiscent of the Renaissance artist Bosch's bizarre inventions. Poised on pedestals are Jerilyn Virden's exquisite fired stoneware bowls and Greg Fidler's luminous blown-glass objects. Susie Ganch produces delicately crafted "thinking caps" of steel and copper that waver between jewelry and sculpture. There are less traditionally crafted works and more conceptual pieces such as IlaSahai Prouty's glass knots and Sumi paper prints that occupy a corner of the gallery, Miyuki Imai's stitched landscape, and Ann Marie Kennedy's slightly erotic flower drawings accompanied by jar gardens filled with dirt and plants.
All these pieces work together to create a dialogue of color, shape and texture in a symbiotic atmosphere of openness and support much like Penland School of Crafts itself.
"Penland at VCU" is showing at the Bradford Gallery, VCU Fine Arts Building, 1000 W. Broad St., through March 16.