Student Director-at-Large Ashlyn Pope reflects on her experience…
“I wanted to become a Student Director at Large for NCECA for two reasons. I wanted to be a voice for students and I also wanted to represent a population of artists that don’t get much voice and visibility in the arts and the world. As an African American woman, I believe that my voice could be useful in choosing programming that can inspire, engage and motivate artists of all cultural backgrounds and all professional levels.
The process of the application generally wasn’t too difficult until I discovered I had to make a video. I am not the kind of person who likes being in videos as I barely like having photos taken of myself. I knew that the video had to be completed so had to come up with a creative way to approach this aspect. The process gave me a bit of insight into how volunteering for the board would be as it takes stepping out of your comfort zone in order to make something tangible.
The application process wasn’t my last step before the results of votes casted would be announced, at least for me it wasn’t. I made sure to go around the conference and introduce myself to as many people as I could. I thought it was important to have people interact with a human being and not simply a screen. I also used that time to encourage many to vote, letting them know that their voices count and they should let them be heard.”
Student Director-at-Large Brandon Schnur reflects on his past experience….
“I first approached the Student Director at Large position wanting to bring my personal perspective as a student to the forefront, to make a significant impact on the student programming and advocate more for the students place at NCECA. I was pleasantly surprised at the immediate embrace and equality I received, with my voice heard and considered as much as anyone else (to think, I expected resistance). Even in my first year, helping to cement the expansion of the NCECA Juried Student Exhibition to welcome international students, I knew what I would gain from the position was so much more than what I could bring to it solely.
In a grand scope, it has given me the opportunity and the privilege to work alongside some of my idols and in a more personal way I participated in life changing conversations with people that I would have never interacted with otherwise. The Student Director position has created lasting relationships and gave me a sense of purpose among the larger ceramics community. I have received more for this position than I ever expected to, and I hope that I have helped the students of NCECA as much as they have helped me.”
Deadline for Application for SDAL October 10, 2018
For more information wisit the NCECA wesbite
A Student Director at Large….what do you do?
- -Serve NCECA’s membership by advocating for student concerns.
- -Promote calls for student programming and critique room.
- -Provide support and guidance for the NCECA Juried Student Exhibition (NJSE) in concert with the Exhibitions Director including the following: Identifies qualified jurors, solicits donations of awards, represents NCECA and presents awards at the NSJE reception, provides support to the venue as needed.
- -Coordinate student initiatives and programming by reviewing proposals, presenter and critique mentor qualifications.
- -Provide scheduling data pertaining to student programming to the Conference Manager for inclusion on NCECA website, app, and program guide.
- -Serve as one of the Student Fellowship jurors in the selection of awardees.
Student Directors at Large shall serve as advocates for student concerns and shall coordinate student initiatives and programming. Student Directors at Large shall organize the NCECA Juried Student Exhibition under the guidance of the Exhibitions Director.
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?
I’m on my way to the conference, and I’m fondly remembering the ridiculous meals I’ve had at NCECA. The things I eat during the week of the conference are generally a compromise, a mediocre peace treaty between how much noise my stomach makes, and how much more my feet are willing to walk. One year, the year I got smart, I bought provisions at a convenience store and carried Kind bars with me to eat when I was too tired to forage for lunch. That was also the year where dinner was a package of deli ham, eaten straight from the plastic pouch it came in, purchased from the same convenience store. I was starving, exhausted, and forgot to get bread.
As I write this, I am on a 9 hour train to Pittsburgh, and will be sleeping on an air mattress on the floor, hopefully with blankets. I haven’t arrived yet, but it will be in an 8-12 person AirBnB. Why don’t I know the exact number of people? Because the booking was made through a friend of a friend (of a friend), and I will only know one person in this house (…I think it’s a house). I will spend my first night sharing a hotel room (total number of roommates TBD) before I join the cast of Real World NCECA: Pittsburgh edition. I teeter-tottered to the train station early this morning, frumpy in my biggest winter coat and laden with luggage and wrapped sandwiches; when I dropped the cap to my thermos, a very pregnant woman looked on in sympathy as I tried to bend down without keeling over. The train has just left Philadelphia, where the power goes out for 15 minutes and we sit in stuffy darkness while the engine recharges. This is normal, says the girl on her way to Altoona.
Alarm bells going off? No? Let’s take a step back and look at the situation again: I am a girl, traveling by myself, about to sleep in a house full of total strangers. I consider myself a cautious person – I was raised to be aware of my surroundings and keep an eye out for ne’er-do-wells, especially in big cities. And yet, I am totally comfortable with this arrangement because I will be in a house with clay people, and we are all here for NCECA. This annual pilgrimage we all make is the stuff of Chaucer, and now I know what it must have been like to be a pilgrim in the middle ages (… well, sort of – by this age I’d probably have lost most of my teeth). When I read the Canterbury Tales in school, I never understood why total random strangers would start telling stories on their journey – this to me is the equivalent of telling everyone at the grocery store what you’re making for dinner and why you need to touch every single tomato. But now I get it – there is nothing like the company of fellow devotees. We have a shared purpose and a shared love, even if we all express our passion differently, and that creates a sense of safety, a feeling of being understood innately, if only in this one dimension.
Ordinarily, I like a bit of comfort when I travel – on road trips, I prefer to wait for a nicer rest stop rather than using the only bathroom at the gas station, and I often fly with a neck pillow and slippers. But for NCECA, I don’t mind small discomforts. Experience tells me that I will soon be so tired I will happily fall asleep anywhere, only to wake up again and charge back in to soak up all the happy intellectual clay particulates that float around during this time of year. I will wait in line for 2 hours for a lukewarm cup of tea that tastes like burnt coffee, sit on the ground to take notes if I can’t find a seat, and memorize the map of the convention center only to still have absolutely no idea where the Cup Sale is. I will barely be frustrated, because I’ve done this before, and I will do it again.
And, it turns out, I’m not alone. I casually asked a few current and former board members about their memories of scrambling for food during the conference. I figured I couldn’t be alone in having meals of desperation while running myself ragged, and I was right. Keith Williams, former president, remembers eating “a lump of stinky cheese… a big hunk of Romano I’d gotten at a local grocery store in…Houston? the Phoenician? It must have been 3/4 of a pound. I bought it as a snack thinking it would last me awhile, but I walked around and ended up eating the whole thing for lunch that day.” He said this to me while gesturing with his hands that the cheese was roughly the size of a softball.
And Shalya Marsh, former Student Director-At-Large, explained that “one conference there was no food around [the convention center], and I had not eaten in forever, and I was so hungry that I snuck into the 50 friends meeting and ate all the apples from their leftover boxed lunches.” She was quick to clarify that “the meeting had ended, and a bunch of people had not eaten their apples.”
Many former NCECA board members don’t remember eating at all, or not eating until late at night, although there seems to be a collective memory of lots and lots of granola bars. These are the things we do for love. So, since we’re all on this journey together, fellow pilgrims, tell me your story. What are your memories of wacky meals eaten during NCECA?
Another year of classes brings with it the seemingly endless studying, cups and cups of coffee and the ever-brilliant critiques, whether you love or loath it, each student slowly steps closer to that light at the end of the tunnel. I know you can endure, you know you can endure, yet we deserve that oasis along the endless trek towards our degree. NCECA is that oasis! Who would have thought that the cure from endless ceramics conversation would come from even more ceramics? Hair of the dog? Yes, please!
This upcoming year is the 52nd anniversary of NCECA. Pittsburgh, PA will be providing a place for clay lovers, students, established artists, and friends alike to explore contemporary ceramics and the city that has welcomed us with open arms. This year also calls for passionate people to step to the plate and continue the rich development of NCECA.
When I first decided to take on the Student-Director-at-Large position I felt that I already had a very deep connection to NCECA, however, I had no idea how much more involved I could be with the organization. As a board member, I help oversee development and the growth of many of the amazing activities that the conference offers. There is a great feeling of accomplishment to knowing that I have a hand in developing the Student Interest Programming and being involved with the National Student Juried Exhibition. All the work it takes to be a board member is a labor of love, a permanent place in the history of the organization and knowing that I have helped to shape a great conference.
If you are community oriented, organized and passionate, we are seeking candidates for the two-year position of Student-Director-at-Large. The position can be approached by either nomination or application due by October 4th. Contact the Board Steward (aqnd a former student director-at-large himself), Steve Hilton, email@example.com or the current Student directors Naomi Clement Naominceca@gmail.com or Brandon Schnur Brandonschnurnceca@gmail.com for more information.
Brandon Schnur (Student-Director-at- Large 2017-2019)
For the last week, we’ve had such a WONDERFUL exchange of ideas and opinions related to a single survey comment that I thought I’d see if we can repeat it. This week, let’s address this:
I know this is beyond your control but I found myself twice having to choose between really great presentations. Thursday – Anomalies and Curiosities and the Roundtable discussion Fueling the Imagination. Friday Panel 50 Years of Women and Panel Strategies for Change. I am grateful that you will be putting these on the web so I can view them and I don’t have a solution because I am sure scheduling is a nightmare. Perhaps most important for you to hear is how many excellent panels were put on. Absolutely loved Pete Pinnell’s presentation. Love to hear him again.
First, as an aside, in case you don’t know, YES, we are getting conference presentations up online as quickly as we can. About two a week are posted to our YouTube Channel, follow us there, or follow the blog or our facebook page to be alerted to all the new content (and Pete’s lecture went up just this past week!) More coming soon also to the NCECA 360 Podcast, so check that out as well.
BUT, the crux of the issue here is the amount of conference programming NCECA offers, and my question for you is this….Is it too much? But wait! before you answer that, let me give you a little background, insight and other things to consider.
About 6 years ago, we had three large lecture hall rooms for presentations (what we call concurrent programming), plus the big hall for the simultaneous demonstrators. At that time there was also a room for slide forums and a room for video screenings, and the K-12 programming room. Around that time, we added the student-led programming, and started to bolster the K-12 programming. We realized that there may be TOO MANY choices, so about 5 years ago, I think, we actually reduced the number of concurrent session rooms from 3 down to 2. Which helped, except then we created the Process Room…..and this year we added the Fab Lab as well. So now we have the two big lecture rooms, simultaneous demos, process room, fab lab plus K12 programming, and student-led programming (the last two of those, incidentally, are often very popular with populations OUTSIDE of their intended audience). So have we ballooned too much? More people now attending the conference means we MUST have more options (or more space, which may or may not be possible since we sometimes can’t take a sledgehammer to a wall in a convention center), but with many options comes not only many hard choices, but also greater expense. If you didn’t see it before, check out my conference cost breakdown from last year inside-nceca-vol-2-no-5-the-costs-of-the-conference. Something I realized SINCE I wrote that post last fall is that when we add rooms, we also have to add additional A/V crew and equipment, which can get very expensive as well. Many people already believe that the conference cost is too high, though I strongly believe this relates less to the cost of an NCECA Conference pass and more to the additional costs of attending, none of which NCECA benefits from.
So, that’s my opening volley. Now I’d love to hear from NCECA members….we will be talking about this at our spring board meeting as we plan the program for Portland, so tell us what you think, either in the comments below or in our NCECA Facebook Group discussion!
Today I am going to focus this article on one single survey comment:
We had 5000 brochures printed for the exhibition but it was a waste of resources.
In case you didn’t know, NCECA has always offered up empty tables for any venue or organization that wishes to leave free brochures about their programs, events, etc. For the past 3 years at least, the NCECA board & staff have been discussing that practice and whether it continues to be appropriate. At the end of the conference, I would suspect that about 80% of what is brought and placed on that table is thrown out.
As an organization that tries to embrace and demonstrate green practices, this past year, I have been investigating and developing a digital option that would take the place of the platforms of paper paraphernalia. As we head into planning for our 51st meeting, the year that leads our conference into the future, do NCECA members still want tables full of brochures and postcards? I’d truly love to hear some thoughts and opinions. Please comment below or discuss in the NCECA Facebook Group