What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who only has eyes if he’s a painter, ears if he’s a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he’s a poet – or even, if he’s a boxer, only some muscles? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being constantly alert to the horrifying, passionate or pleasing events in the world, shaping himself completely in their image.
As Richard Notkin prepared for the closing lecture at CrossCurrents: Clay and Culture, the 2018 NCECA conference in Pittsburgh, it was important to him that his message connect with the next generation of ceramic art’s leaders… today’s students. If the conference theme in Pittsburgh was intended to explore the many ways that diverse cultures contribute to ceramic art’s rich legacies and impact the work we create today, Notkin’s closing talk reached deep below the surface for undercurrents where acts of creation enter history’s sweep of social upheavals, injustices, and remembrance of cruelties inflicted by powers that atomize cultures through our differences rather than build unities through their beautiful variations. Erudite and eloquent, Notkin’s words resonated fully and deeply throughout the lecture hall in Pittsburgh. Perhaps just as important, the underlying messages of his talk continue to reverberate throughout our field and within our studios and communities now that we have returned from the conference.
As Communications Director of NCECA, one of my responsibilites is the editing and uploading of all of the conference footage each year. It’s a big job, to be sure. The 2018 conference playlist is currently sitting at 93 videos. i have a couple more to do still, plus all of the emerging artists presentations. The playlist will hit 100 before I put it to bed. But, as any teacher who puts in extra hours firing kids projects or providing an opportunity for extra studio time, or just does any of those “teacher” things that teachers do, will tell you, there are always the moments that make all the extra effort worthwhile.
Richard Notkin is the ultimate example of this.
We are so fortunate in our field that our mentors so willingly share and pass down knowledge and ideas; so lovingly listen and respond to our own thoughts and perspectives; and who push us to persevere in the pursuit of our own goals.
I’m not certain I have ever had such a moving experience editing NCECA footage. Richard and I exchanged several emails and phone calls related to the editing of his speech, but often our conversations meandered through a myriad of topics ranging from clay to (grand) kids. I have long been a fan of his artwork, and the passionate advocacy that accompanies it. After this experience, I am an even bigger fan of the man. Those conversations continue to sit at the forefront of my mind as I look at my own children and think about the challenges they will face as they enter adulthood, and I am hopeful.
This speech is a gift, one that we should all take our time enjoying. Immerse yourself in the images, delight in the discourse, and then do something….
Quit smoking and vote.
I think the NCECA conference is basically a hundred joyful hugs hello followed by a thousand tearful tugs goodbye, and I’m never 100% certain when that shift happens. As big as our conference is now, some people I only manage to connect with once, so that one embrace has to serve as both. And when I get on that plane and leave it all behind, there’s definitely a feeling of “post partum”. I remember in Tampa, which was not my first conference, but was my first conference as a board member, which made it a whole different experience. I really lost it by the end of the conference, and I just could NOT stop the tears from pouring out of my eyes. So I had to develop some post-conference coping strategies. Maybe they’ll help others.
- I download my brain and give myself some goals, assignments and deadlines….I sit down with my computer and I make notes about what I want to do differently next year at the conference. I make notes about things I need to follow up on from this year’s conference. I create contact cards for new people I met and make notes about what plans we made. I put reminders in my calendar. I start emails and save them as drafts to finish later, and I set some goals of how I’m going to carry the momentum energy & excitement of the conference into my regular routine.
- I put on my NCECA conference t-shirt, grab a new cup I got at the conference, fill it with some form of liquid and then pour through the pictures on my phone, (which sometimes leads to pulling out the computer to make a note about something i had forgotten about). NOW, I understand that there were a bit of a run on the shirts this year. They were pretty cool, and they sold out fast, so maybe you didn’t get one? Well, I have good news for you!!! We have set up a print-on-demand opportunity for conference shirts. Click here to order your very own NCECA shirt in your ideal size
- I watch the videos. OK, actually, I edit the videos and upload them to youtube (Did you know that NCECA does that? If not, check out our YouTube channel now with more than 300 videos from a variety of conferences, including 60 so far from 2018, 85 from 2017, and 50 from the year before that.) As I’m writing this, the edited video for Dave, HBCU & Clay is processing and exporting in preparation for me to upload it. It took me longer than many of the videos usually take me because it was just so moving. I was absolutely captivated by the presenters, and i often forgot about doing my job of editing and just got lost in the words and emotions. And I’m not going to say I’m sorry for that delay in getting things online. But I will say you need to set aside an hour and a half and watch it. Actually, set aside a few hours, because from there you will get lost in the other presentations too. We had some really stellar programming this year. Louis Katz said he was making a point of watching one presentation each day, which is great, because that takes the conference experience and extends it by probably 3 months!
- I open up the NCECA App and look through it again to see what I missed on the social wall and in the notifications. I think the App this year was better than ever and I believe it’s just going to become more and more robust. Don’t delete it from your phone, because we can all make a point of keeping it relevant as we communicate throughout the year. Explore the connection & interaction features and go back to the programming events and review images and documents uploaded by presenters, or contact that company from the resource hall that you needed to get in touch with. The NCECA App is a great year round resource. Now i WILL apologize because I think I sound a bit like an advertisement, but really it’s just because I’m passionate about providing communication tools to people, which, let’s remember, is kind of my job…..
- I visit the NCECA website and look at the open calls and opportunities. if you aren’t doing this, you may be missing out on amazing things. In addition to open programming (Have something you want to share? Come join us in Claytopia) and exhibition calls, we have an open call out for two amazing international residencies. Other things pop up throughout the year as well, so please make a habit of checking in regularly.
So those are my top five fixes for the Post-NCECA blues….what do you do to get by the other 51 weeks of the year?
November 8th was the first ever Global Day of Clay, a joint effot between NCECA and the 92nd street Y to promote clay on a global scale. There were 273 images with the hashtag #globaldayofclay on Instagram, a ton of tweets, and a variety of posts, images, videos events, & links on Facebook. We even created a playlist from videos posted on YouTube:
Did we miss reporting on something you shared? let us know below, and be sure to make plans to join us next year and increase the reach of this event and raise awareness of clay across the planet!
Now entering its third year, Blinc20:20 is becoming an exciting piece of programming at the annual conference. This image-driven visually impacting short-form presentation provides a perfect platform for professors, students, international artists, or just about anyone who wants to be a part of the conference program.
Not too long ago, I was chatting with a local college professor, who was lamenting that getting funding from the university to attend the conference is becoming more challenging. However, they are inclined to provide funds to anyone who is presenting at the conference. He thought that the Blinc programming was ideal for many professors and students to take part in and share research they are currently doing, or developments in the field, or community collaborations and other such topics that would be of interest to like-minded NCECA-goers. I couldn’t agree more! And I also think this programming is perfect for a variety of other sorts of conference attendees:
Blinc 20:20 is also ideal for international attendees to share information about their own country or culture’s work in ceramics.
Blinc is great for any NCECA member who wishes to share a grassroots movement such as community project they created to broaden the reach of clay.
Take a look at some of last year’s presentations below and then head on over to read all the details and APPLY HERE. The deadline is imminent! Don’t delay!
The deadline for galleries to apply for the NCECA Gallery Expo is June 21. You can find all the details and apply through the blurb and link below. But first, we caught up with NCECA Director-at-Large, Russell Wrankle, who manages the expo while he was on a hike. Take two minutes to listen to Wrankle’s wise words….
Gallery Expo Call