Posted by Cindy Bracker, Communications Director
Where do you currently live/work
I live in Lawrence, KS and work at Bracker’s Good Earth Clays
What do you like most about your job? OR What do you like most about where you live?
Lawrence is a BEAUTIFUL and extremely artist-friendly town. Excellent schools, safe neighborhoods and very diverse, thanks in part to the University of Kansas. My job is amazing…I get to interact with people from all parts of our field on a regular basis – potters, sculptors, professors, students, leisure-time artists (aka hobby potters, but some of them hate that term, so I try to avoid it)
Where did you grow up?
Lawrence, KS. Yep, I’m a townie, or “native Lawrencian” (those of us who reside in Lawrence don’t really identify with the term “Kansan”). Here’s a fun story about that…It’s actually because of NCECA that I was born here. In 1973, Dad was flying home from the Flagstaff conference (where he had demonstrated his brand new Raku Kiln that he had built utilizing the new and space-age material of Ceramic Fiber!) On his flight home, he was seated on an airplane next to Sheldon Carey, then professor at KU, who would soon be retiring. Sheldon encouraged Dad to apply for the job, was hired in 74 and moved to Lawrence in ’75.
What was your childhood nickname?
surprisingly, not claygirl, though that *is* my nickname now. My parents called me Windy Cindy, because I was fairly constantly talking. Shocker, I know.
How did you first find out about NCECA?
Gosh, I’m not sure I ever DIDN’T know about NCECA. Dad was going before I was born. His first was the 1971 NCECA in Toronto, but probably my first real understanding was 1989, when it was in KC for the second time. By then, my parents pottery business had turned into more of a supply business, and Bracker Ceramics (the old name) had a booth in the commercial exhibit hall (now called the Resource Hall)
Tell me a story about your first conference (including city and/or year)
Well, the first conference I actually attended was 1995 Minneapolis. And like probably any NCECA member, I have TONS of stories, (and not all of them appropriate…catch me in the bar at some future conference and I’ll spill those). I have to say that I was well looked-after by friends of my parents who felt protective of me. I was such a goofy kid, though, and I spent that conference collecting business cards (and I still have quite a few of them). They were like baseball cards to me and I remember I was EXTREMELY excited to get a Janet Mansfield Ceramics: Art & Perception Card! Also, there was a sports bar in the Hotel (this was back in the day before NCECA was so big and we could all fit in a hotel, not the big convention centers we need these days), the waitress who worked there would always say in a super breathy marilyn monroe-esque voice “thank you so much” at the end of every meal. Terri Tolson, who worked for AMACO for years, and I would imitate her for YEARS afterwards!
What’s your favourite colour?
Red – the colour of insanity! (and yes, I LOVE to spell words with the British U. It’s just so much more elegant-looking)
What or who inspired you to get involved more deeply in the organization, and what was your “entry point” to the board
I have to say I was inspired by the many Kansans & Kanzoids who preceded me on the board. There’s even a joke about the “Kansas Mafia,” but I love Linda Ganstrom’s explanation that folks from around here are willing to work really hard for no money. I think I sort of got on the radar by raising a ruckus….asking too many questions and maybe speaking my mind a bit too much? (another shocker, I know). But I have to credit Keith Williams (with a strong assist from Marko Fields) for being responsible for my presence on the board. I can still remember the day in October of 2009 when I received that phone call from Keith informing me that my name had come up, and would I be interested in serving? It remains one of my top 5 life-changing moments.
Describe your position with NCECA.
NCECA offers SO many opportunities and it’s my job to make sure the members of NCECA know about these, and I take that job very seriously. I don’t want anyone to miss out on an amazing experience because they didn’t know about it. I joked in my candidate speech that “communications director” is the nicest way I have ever been told that I talk a lot. I also listen a lot. I love hearing people describe the conference or their experiences. It helps me to better understand what we are getting across as an organization. I absolutely 100% believe in NCECA being a member-driven organization, thus the questions, comments, concerns, and yes, even complaints of the members are important for me to hear and address. I really really want every member of NCECA to adopt the feeling of “WE” when talking about things the organization does, and not “THEY.”
What’s your favourite thing about being on the board?
I have to echo what many of my fellow board members have stated….it’s sitting at that table with all of these amazing people. It’s both humbling and intoxicating. And what continues to impress me is how this group works together SO respectfully of one another…even when we disagree about something, it’s a completely professional disagreement, and at the end of a LONG day of intense meetings, we STILL want to be together and share stories of our families and lives outside of the boardroom.
I really like to see the increase in membership engagement with the organization. I’ll be honest. I keep spreadsheets on it and I track ALL of our presences regularly. I started the NCECA blog in December of 2011, with the official launch happening in January. In the entirety of 2012, the blog had 6230 views. This year in January alone, we had 6334. As of the end of September, we were WELL over 100,000 views for this year. That’s a lot of informed members. 🙂
Who are some of your mentors, and how have they shaped you as a person/artist? (both in and out of the organization/field)
Wow, did I write this question? I’m feeling why Jen Chua didn’t want to answer it. Obviously, I have to say my mom and dad, but not just as parents, but as role models in clay and business. Both were amazing artists and could have spent their lives making a living as studio potters, but the need in our area for a place to buy supplies was real, and somehow, mom and dad naturally filled that void. My mom is an absolutely brilliant business woman and being able to work with her and learn from her every day is more than I could ask for. And again, I have to credit the NCECA board for being one big collective mentor to me. That phone call from Keith in 2009 was immediately followed up by me calling Glenda Taylor. In the years that followed, I was so incredibly fortunate to come to know her not just as a friend of my parents, but as my friend, and my mentor, and my hero…in NCECA, in Clay, in Cycling, and in Life. I miss her very much. Patsy Cox, though she is more of a contemporary than a mentor is typically thought to be, is very much a mentor to me. She is amazingly organized, passionate, intelligent and an amazing woman. She pushed me into areas of myself that I’m really not comfortable and it helped me to grow as a person. She also has a real knack for cutting through the BS when needed…
Tell me about your work as an artist.
ugh, the dreaded question…again, I wrote this?….yikes. My art exists primarily in the 4th dimension…I’m a musician, a dancer, and actor. I prefer to be on a stage entertaining people. I actually didn’t really love clay as a kid. I blame it on the fact that my dad always stole my pla-doh fun factory, or maybe it’s because I had to tag along to and work at every art fair in the area, and every family vacation involved stopping at EVERY gallery on the way to deliver work. It wasn’t until after my dad died that I decided maybe I should learn to throw. (spoiler alert- I never really learned….I’m actually STILL terrible on the wheel…no ghosting for me!). I did finally find a love of handbuilding. I’m totally the black sheep around here, everyone else is a thrower. But even still, the time I have to actually make anything is so limited, and it’s really challenging to have to be creative on a tight and unpredictable schedule. A fair amount of work I make ends up being slaked back down because I got busy helping a customer and something got too dry to finish. But, for me, it’s really about process and not product, and I find a lot of joy in just getting dirty. Oh, also fire…I love to fire….That part in Jack Troy’s closing lecture last year where he said there are mud potters and fire potters….I totally identified with that, I am DEFINITELY the latter…I WOULD fire up an empty kiln just for the fun of the flame.
What’s your favourite ice cream flavor?
let’s go with chocolate, maybe with ribbons of fudge and perhaps some brownie pieces, dipped in a chocolate shell….I might allow some caramel or peanut butter or pecans in as well, but only if it doesn’t get too much in the way of the chocolate.
If you were a glaze, which one would you be and why?
AMACO used to make a low-fire glaze called Antique Blue….LT-24..it was soooo pretty…..variegated blue with flecks of floating gold. It was absolutely luscious. But now it’s not available anymore…
What are a few of your hobbies?
Singing – the steering wheel of my car is an excellent audience! I also play piano, and occasionally treat the neighborhood to “open-window concerts”.
Cycling – it started out as triathlon-ing, which was the offspring of running. Mostly, I like to go fast, and cycling is the FASTEST of self-propelled activities.