What a weekend! We had our long awaited symposium "Material Topics" this weekend. We had metals students from University, Appalachian State, Winthrop, VCU, and even someone from SCAD. Of course there were a ton of ECU people, even some from outside the metals department. We even had alumni and some community members from outside the university. I think our final count was up around 100 people!

The whole thing kicked off Friday night with an opening for a fantastic show between ECU metals and textiles. "Adroit" is currently up at Mendenhall Student Center here on campus. If you haven't seen it you should go! There was much mingling as everyone from out of town started to arrive.

Saturday morning Mary Hallem Pearse from UGA gave a WONDERFUL opening lecture on her work and image and object. It was so inspiring! Then we split up for break out sessions: Rob Jackson's The Eloquent Nail, Linda Darty's Enameling in the 21st Century, and Mary's Design Challenge. I spent the first session assisting Linda. Even though I'm pretty familiar with enameling and have seen several of Linda's demos, it was still exciting for me. There's so much that can be done with enamel, and sometimes I forget what all my options are! She also gave a short power point that had tons of inspiring images and even threw in some fascinating historical details. It was so cool to see people with little to no enameling experience get so excited! Nobody wanted to actually try anything just then, they just wanted Linda to keep talking!

After lunch, I went to Mary's Design Challenge. She also gave a quick presentation full of great work by other artists dealing with alternative materials. Then, we each got to choose one or four materials to work with: rubber bands, scotch tape, saran wrap, and this black plastic mesh (similar to what you sometimes buy fruit in). We could only use that material and hot glue and scissors. We weren't allowed to talk for the first 30 minutes, but let that material speak to us. I made a funny hat, and a brooch out of the black mesh.

We then had a panel discussion with Rob, Mary, Angela Bubash and Margaret Yaukey (App. State), Courtney Starett and Micheal Gayk (Winthrop), Christine Zoller (head of ECU textiles dept.), Linda and Bob. It was really fascinating. We discussed whether the current publications accurately portray our field, the need for critical writing in the field, CAD fabrication and a few other things, followed by a little reception for the show of student work from all the participating schools, and later, much partying.

Sunday started off with more breakout sessions: Tool Making with Tim Lazure, Beaded Beads with Christine Zoller, and A Brush of Creativity with Bob Ebendorf. I did Bob's work shop, which was so great. There was a variety of materials (including leftovers from Mary's class!) and the object was to just play with the materials and make brushes. These pictures are from Bob's class. I went to my space and made four brushes with stuff I had. I took a little break after that, because I was so wiped out, but wound up back in the second session of Bob's class and made a couple more brushes.

Linda then gave her presentation on the resurgence of enameling, and then we broke down the display of student work, and people took these to their critique sessions. I critiqued with Linda and Mary and several other students. It was good to see and talk about work from other schools, as well as work from our own undergrads that I'm not terribly familiar with. I had a really great talk with Mary, and I'm just in love with her work.

Margaret Yaukey gave a presentation on funerary urns that was really wonderful and fascinating. It was a perfect way to wrap up the symposium. Bob made some closing statements and then it was time to really party!

I was kinda like a mini SNAG, only I got to see the other side. This was a primarily student organized event, with wonderful support from our faculty. I was part of the exhibitions committee, so I got to handle work and set up with displays. It was a lot of work, but I really did enjoy it. I wish I would have gotten to spend more time with the visiting faculty, who were all super awesome. I also feel like I didn't get to do a whole lot of networking with my peers. I only had one visiting student stay at my place, and most of my time at the symposium was spent running around doing my part to make sure things were running smoothly. But I did get a chance to connect with a few people.

All in all, the symposium was a huge success. There's already talk of next year. Not to shabby for something that started as a little idea from some grad students!

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