While there was much to enjoy about this conference, I found that there was much that caused me to seriously (and uncomfortably) think about my future in the field and the choices I know I should be making.

 

The first of this uncomfortable thinking moments came during Garth Clark's lecture. Of course I had the same knee jerk reaction to his comparison of studio craft as a sinking ship, but his argument made sense. We are marginalized, and there's no sense pretending that we're not. Sure, it stems from lack of understanding, and it is our duty to educate people as to what we do, but we're marginalized by people who should know better. You can see it in the simple fact that the Humor in Metal and Hot Under the Collar exhibitions weren't given space in the SMoCA galleries. After much back and forth, we were given the atrium we were in. They almost stuck us in the gift shop. Don't get me wrong, I thought the atrium was fantastic and in the end both shows looked phenomenal, but I just wonder, did it have to be so difficult to secure space to show art from people who know about art?

 

I found the two paths for success that Clark laid out for up and coming metalsmiths to both be a poor fit for myself. Again, while I understand his arguments, I am not a designer. I know this about myself as sure as I know my show size. And I know this because I tried. Don't get me wrong, I love design, I think it's great and I admire other designers, but this path is not for me.

Which leaves the path of creating fine art out of craft materials. Maybe more doable from my perspective, but I still feel that my work is inherently craft. And I love craft. I feel that craft is (or should be) valid. My idealistic self wants to believe that there is room for all of us. My post conference self is oscillating between wanting to throw on my super hero cape to single handedly save craft and the more practical (and more likely to be effective) tactic of fundamentally and adamantly making my own work, whatever that may mean. I'm not sure what the answer is, but maybe if I spend enough time in the studio, I'll figure something out.

Another uncomfortable moment came during the Education Dialog. While the panelists were introducing themselves, I noticed a trend. "After I graduated I went here, and then I went here for a year, and then I went here, and now I'm here." Meaning, you have to be willing to go where opportunity knocks. Which I always sort of knew while I was in school, but after a year living in my car and never knowing what address to give out, I'm kinda tired of it. I found where I want to be, and feel like I'm doing a myself a disservice by being so reluctant to move. I'm wondering if I can create the opportunities for myself, based on where I want to be. I suppose other people have done it, people with actual commitments of home ownership and families. Perhaps this could be a viable discussion topic: not how to get to where you want to go, but staying where you want to be.

I hope you all left the conference exhausted but excited, and that these posts have given you something to think about. Hopefully I'll be able to make it to Toronto next year. I here it's pretty cool.

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