As I prepare to celebrate NCECA’s rich and storied history at the fiftieth conference Makers, Mentors, and Milestones in Kansas City this coming March, I am also looking further into the future. The 2016 conference theme represents a call to honor NCECA’s past and present. Future Flux, the theme for the 2017 conference in Portland, Oregon, is an intentional conversation with Makers, Mentors, and Milestones, asking us to consider what comes next. After celebrating our history as a group of connected makers, thinkers, and educators we will congregate in Portland to discuss and share our vision for the future.
That vision is varied, complex, exciting and uncertain. In a city that is often awarded the distinction of “Greenest City In America” Portland is the perfect place for us to convene and think about our impact and what practices we will teach future generations of ceramists. Working with ceramic materials and processes has its challenges in terms of sustainability and environmental impact; Future Flux will be a forum for us to project our plans and approaches to address these pertinent issues.
In recent years the discipline of ceramics has seen a surge in the use of digital fabrication technologies, global communication and exchange, and connectivity through online social networks. In our field there are many who embrace tradition and are wary of technology’s correlation with a perceived decline in senses of manual skill, locality, and the authenticity that we associate with face-to-face communication. Many of us are increasingly at home on the alternate end of the spectrum and share a fascination with technology and its association with progress. What opportunities and challenges will we encounter as we seek to connect the promises of new technologies with respect for enduring and diverse traditions? How will we respond to them?
Future Flux should be an engine of intrigue for those who have long toiled in the worlds of teaching, learning and creation through ceramics, those still finding their way, and those who are experiencing their first encounters with the mysteries of clay. Leading up to the 2017 conference we will want to consider our obligations as educators and mentors. What new and innovative teaching strategies can propel ceramic education another fifty years into the future? How can we extend our reach and welcome a robust and diverse generation of emerging makers into the NCECA community?