Posted by Jeanne Harriman
As of three years ago, I had never even heard of NCECA; to me now, I can’t imagine it never existing in my world.
Okay, so I have only attended two NCECAs so far. Not that many, right? How could
NCECA have affected me that much? It’s pretty remarkable how only a few short days immersed in this conference can impact you.
My first NCECA was Seattle 2012. I was in my last semester of art school and working on my senior exhibition with little satisfaction. I found myself creating work that I loved but I was still struggling with my presentation. My work was a little stagnant, lacking energy…something. It was two weeks before my exhibition when I went to Seattle with my University ceramics club and was completely blown over. The Seattle NCECA had a certain energy and glow that I think only a first timer can experience. It was a crazy high that lasted from morning ’til night, every single day; a high that I think I will always chase.
All of the sudden I was full of ideas and overwhelmed with inspiration. I was thinking about ceramics in a way that I didn’t know was possible. NCECA showed me all the directions my work could go and all the heights that could be reached. I returned home inspired and excited, feverishly working and re-working my show. I was relieved, beyond satisfied, I couldn’t have been happier with the results.
My first NCECA experience redefined my career goals as a ceramic artist. I saw my future first hand. It validated my dreams and showed me that achieving them is possible. It made me more confident going forward and I haven’t been the same since.
Houston 2013 was my second NCECA. It was a totally different experience for me. It didn’t have the same new car smell or the bright sheen like my first conference, but it was amazing (appropriate usage of an over-used word) nonetheless.
For me personally, the first NCECA gave me exactly what I needed, and now as a new professional fresh out of school, Houston delivered just as much, but in a different way. I thought the experience was all a great coincidence of events, meetings, information, and opportunity…my stars aligning. Upon reflection, it’s obvious that it doesn’t matter what year you go or in what order things happen…NCECA has something for you at whatever stage you are in.
It sounds like such a cliché, “Come to NCECA! There’s something for everyone!” but it’s true, it’s really actually true. Even if you go in not knowing what you want or need, you’ll get it and realize, “that’s exactly what I needed!” I trust with confidence that going in to Milwaukee, Providence, and Kansas City, there will be a plethora of information that fit my journey and will help me grow. I feel like NCECA is so crucial to my growth as an artist.
Being open minded and willing to take it all in will most certainly be rewarded as I go back to my studio. I was taught and reminded to live an intentional and focused way of life. That the life journey of an artist is often the road less taken but it is rewarding and fulfilling, it is living your life in an honest way. The validation that comes from joining others who share this is encouraging and powerful. Honestly, I find it to all be a little overwhelming but it’s so exciting, and where’s the passion if it’s not overwhelming sometimes? In addition to those important lessons, my career goals were refined, and in some ways, redefined.
Right now I am struggling with launching my art career, paying my bills, maintaining work-life balance and trying to build my art community. Devoting my time to NCECA once a year will allow me to remain focused, refreshed, and in touch. As a young artist with a long road ahead NCECA will nurture my career in countless ways, and I look forward to the exciting twists and turns it will take.