PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Sorry- I caught an exhaustion/respiratory/family Easter festivities/research paper for class cootie... so I'd like to try to sum up NCECA, and maybe what it all meant for me. The theme of this conference was "Independence", celebrating the "independent spirit in all of us" all the while celebrating the traditions associated with the ceramic medium. The daytime program is jammed, sometimes something you want to see is at the same time as another you didn't want to miss & you find yourself floating in & out of various programs/discussions, only able to catch bits & pieces. And seeing all the new work in the wonderful NCECA gallery shows, chatting with the artists & gallery owners, (NEXPO - great idea!) make you think or actually doubt what you are creating - "is this what I should be making?" This conference is filled with people of all ages and it strikes you, seeing all the kids. You want to ask, "will you be the next legend?" Ideas are filling your head & you try to keep a pencil & paper in your hand or a camera handy to record what you are seeing. You find answers to problems, a tool that you couldn't imagine ever living without all these years, new glaze techniques, graduate school leads, new friends, comfort, joy, confusion, exhaustion. And as a studio potter, you feel like this is really geared toward educators & what are you doing here? But then you end up hearing the most wonderful lecture of all "How did I get here" the closing lecture by Malcolm Davis, a man without a BFA or MFA. Someone like me! Someone who, like me, happened to pick up a wad of clay one evening at a community center & never let go. He spoke of the journeys that have brought people to clay and how this humble material from the earth has transformed their lives into the unexpected He focussed on clay, not as an art form, nor as a vehicle for self-expression, but as a material that has the power to transform the human spirit. Clay was the reason we were all there.
It is really hard to stick to any real structure during the evening hours, and what you end up doing in the evenings can be just as incredible an experience as the daytime, you seem to have to be open to anything that might come along, along with a tentative plan. It worked out well for us. There were too many wonderful gallery openings each nite to be able to attend them all, so you try to see as many as you can. And I have to say, that leaving ourselves open to whatever came our way on Friday nite started out in a nice group at the Marriott bar and led us to jumping into a cab to attend incredible gallery openings with Robin Hopper, bumping into our new friend, Isaiah Zagar & his lovely Julia, eating in a Turkish restaurant, complete with belly dancing and ending up back in time for the big dance. And then there was that wonderful closing lecture - "not an ending to a marvelous gathering, but a transition from here back to your studios. None us us would be here today, struggling and surviving, creating and making, if it weren't for the power of the living earth that seduces, sustains and keeps us growing." Next year - Tampa.