Evelyn Rensing Kochansky is the inspiration for the Rensing Center and mother of the director. She was born in Brooklyn, NY, the fifth generation of women in her family there, in 1920. Growing up in the depression, she learned resourcefulness. Living near the Brooklyn Museum, she practiced drawing there every weekend, and took the streetcar to check out the maximum allowable number of books from the local library, forming two life-long habits. She graduated from Pratt Institute in 1941, married Nicholas Kochansky the same year, and went on to work in mechanical drawing, raise two children, and teach art and science for 25 years at the King School in Stamford, CT. She served on the board of the Stamford Museum and Nature Center before retiring to Pickens SC. Her passions are world travel and gardening.
Board of Directors
Ellen Kochansky, Executive Director, Chair
Ellen Kochansky’s artistic practice is rooted in her experience as a textile artist, designer and quilter. With a firm grounding in traditional craft, Kochansky’s work has always stretched those definitions to include experimental fiber and mixed-media art, public and private commissions as well as community-based and site-specific installations. For her company, EKO, she designed and manufactured custom quilts from 1989 to 2004.
In a career spanning over 30 years, Ellen Kochansky has actively promoted the arts, the preservation and extension of craft traditions, and environmentally responsible practices, and continues to foster emerging artists through teaching and mentorship for all ages. She founded The Rensing Center to further these goals. She has been an American Craft Council Trustee (1989-1993), a National Endowment for the Arts American Canvas Panelist (1997), and a founding Director of Ripple Effect Sustainable Design Group (1999-2001). She has twice been chosen Craft Fellow by the South Carolina Arts Commission. She serves on the Pickens County Cultural Commission and on the City of Clemson’s Green Ribbon Commission. Ellen has shared her experience through teaching and workshops, including Penland, Arrowmont, and the Innovation Institute (McColl Center, Charlotte, NC). She as served as a juror for national art shows such as Cherry Creek, Evanston, and American Craft Council, as well as South Carolina’s Verner Awards. Her work is included in The Mint Museum, The American Museum of Art and Design in NY, and the White House Collection, and she has been cited in various book, articles, and television programs, notably CBS Sunday Morning and the book Six Continents of Quilts. A list of exhibitions, commissions, awards and more can be found on her website: www.ekochansky.com
Nathan Koci, Vice Chair – Nathan Koci is a Brooklyn-based musician, composer, and actor from Charleston, South Carolina, currently serving on the faculty at the New School. He relishes and instigates collaborative music-making as often as he can, be it folk songs, chamber music, jazz, or improvising in various styles. He enjoys a diverse career as a “quirky multi-instrumentalist” (TimeOut NY), performing on the horn and accordion, as well as other keyboard, brass, and strummed stringed instruments. Called a “new-music maven” by TimeOut NY, he has long been an advocate for music by living composers, premiering pieces by Jacob Cooper, Ted Hearne, and Yotam Haber, and working with ensembles Signal, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Modern, Bang on a Can, Beth Morrison Projects, Red Light New Music, Your Bad Self, Dance Heginbotham, Wordless Music and the New Music Collective. As a composer, Koci has composed for theatre (PURE Theatre, Eurydice), dance (Anneke Hansen Dance, Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance), and film (National Park Service, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art), as well as for his own instrumental trio The Opposite of a Train. He has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, BAM, the LA Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and the Public Theater in New York City. His theater work has included serving as Music Director and Accordionist for Much Ado About Nothing in NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park 2014 Season (Music by David Yazbek, Directed by Jack O’Brien), working alongside Kathleen Turner in a 2014 production of Mother Courage and her Children, and co-performing the role of Songman in the 1st US National Tour of the Tony Award-winning play WarHorse.
GC Waldrep, Secretary – G.C. Waldrep’s most recent books are a long poem, Testament (BOA Editions, 2015), and a chapbook, Susquehanna(
Terren Baker, Treasurer – With an MFA in design and textile arts, Terren Baker founded her own design firm in 1982 in Washington, D.C. As a co-founder of Whirlwind Creative in 1989, she brings a broad range of experience in content development, project management and graphic design for museums, corporations and cultural institutions. She offers exceptional experience in the planning process, research and content development for interpretive exhibits. In addition, her experience over the last 20 years has included handling and mounting artifacts, graphic design and production, database development and client interface from planning through installation.
Liz Mears – Rensing Center Board member, Elizabeth Ryland Mears (Liz), began her career with glass art and sculpture in the early 1970’s; eschewing a career in medicine, she chose art instead. Since that time Mears has spent countless hours in the classroom both as a student and then as a teacher, all the while creating in her studio. She has served on numerous boards of director for arts organizations lending her energy, advice, and insight to issues which affect artists and the organizations which support them.
Mears utilizes the forms of nature to create works of glass, which reflect her relationship to both her inner and her outer worlds. The glass is first worked in the mesmerizing flame of a bench torch then often is combined with other materials to become the exquisitely crafted and nationally exhibited objects for which she is known. Her award winning works are prized by collectors and held in museum and corporate collections. She has authored two books, which describe the techniques she uses for making glass objects, and her creations have been included in numerous books and other publications whose subject is contemporary art glass. In 2009 she was declared a Master Artist in the state of Virginia, and in 2009 she was honored to be one of four artists whose work was installed in the Capitol Hill office of Senator Mark Warner.
Pam Mack – Pam Mack has been a professor in the history department at Clemson University for 30 years, specializing in environmental history and history of science and technology. She has a PhD in history of science and technology from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked on history of the US space program, history of women in science and technology, and history of the forest service management of the land at the Savannah River site. She is the council member at Peace Congregational Church UCC responsible for worship and spiritual formation. Her own craft and art work has been primarily for self-exploration. She is widely curious about ways of experiencing life that are deeper than words (or deeper than the surface meanings of the words). Her philosophy of life is that there are always more than two alternatives.
Ken Marsh – Dr. Marsh is a consultant and Executive Director of the Woodstock Institute for Science & the Humanities. He has worked to reduce world hunger by cutting food losses since 1992 and was awarded the 2015 Elisabeth Fleming Stier Award for humanitarian contributions for that work. He held the first endowed professorship in packaging science in the US and is a Fellow of the Institute of Packaging Professionals and the Institute of Food Technologists, a Certified Packaging Professional and Certified Food Scientist. He co-edited the Wiley Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology, 2nd edition. He presented aspects of packaging and food security at six World Food Congresses, two World Packaging Congresses, 1st Save Food Congress, and other forums. He represented IFT at the World Food Summit:five years later. He helped develop High-Energy, Nutrient-Dense Emergency Relief Food Product with the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. He also served as chair of Clemson’s Green Ribbon Committee, which helped to implement environmental programs in town.
Matt Macauley – Matt is associate professor of mathematical sciences at Clemson University. His road to Clemson included doctoral work at University of California, Santa Barbara, and summers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and at Virginia Tech. He is also the recent recipient of grants from the National Science Foundation and the Simons Foundation.
Ellie Taylor – Eleanor P. Taylor, M.S., R.N., C.D.E., has developed and taught wellness classes on subjects ranging from weight loss to chronic disease management and parenting. She holds a master’s degree in Family Health Nursing and is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator. She has three grown children and four grandchildren. She is a co-author of Feeding the Kids, a guide to bringing healthier eating to kids.
Kimberley Brown, Managing Director – Since 2009, Kimberley has been a consultant, helping nonprofit organizations to become more effective. Her doctoral dissertation from Clemson University sprang from her original, national research of the factors that motivate nonprofit leaders to build capacity. She has researched the effectiveness and life cycles of hundreds of nonprofits across South Carolina. Before returning to the Upstate, Kimberley wrote accreditation standards for colleges and universities across Canada, and she was the Director of Research for the (American) National Development Institute. She has also conducted statewide research in South Carolina on the effectiveness of dropout prevention measures for online high school students.
As our Managing Director, Kimberley wears many hats. Among many other things, she manages the applications processes for the residencies, as well as our work exchange programs. Kimberley shepherds our residents, and the marketing of our events.
Before focusing on nonprofit work, Kimberley was an independent owner of an adjunct health business, and for eight years she taught in the public school system. She has lived and worked in the North with Cree First Nations, and also in Norway, Quebec, Michigan, and in Kenya, but we’re glad she likes the climate and the hills of Pickens County. Her two children make her heart shine!
Brad Wyche, Upstate Forever Exec. Director, Greenville SC
Brent Skidmore, Assistant Professor of Art and Gallery Director at UNC Asheville, Asheville NC
Lori Bacigalupi, Director of Kiss of the Wolf Clothing, Norman OK
Jan Kochansky, Retired Chemist of US Department of Agriculture, Keedysville MD
Toni Sikes, Co-Founder and CEO at CODAworx, Madison WI
Barbara Heifferon, Author and Professor at Lousiana State University, Baton Rouge LA
Amalia Culp, London England
Tom Johnson, Architect, Seattle WA
Victoria Taylor, Consultant and Facilitator for McColl Center for Art +Innovation, Charlotte NC
Ken May, Director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, Columbia SC
Gerald Sweitzer, Non-Profit Consultant, Easley SC
Kay Barrett, Attorney, Clemson SC
Owen Riley, Photographer, Greenville SC