Mostly, thus far, I have left it to our brilliant Programs Director, Mary Cloonan, and a few other folks to tell you about programming at the conference.  Today I’m going to “steal the mic” and share a few highlights of my own.  One of the beautiful things about our conference moving around across the country is the “local flavor” that each region brings into the mix.  This is always apparent in the exhibitions, but over the years, this regional element has become present in the programming as well.   Several of our presenters hail from this area.

unspecifiedFirst I want to tell you about a session in our Student Perspectives room.  Eleanor Heimbaugh, originally from the Kansas City area, a graduate of Washburn University and now studying to get her MFA at Fort Hays State University will be presenting a 30 minute session titled “Beyond the Pedestal – Contemporary Solutions for Display”.  I can’t help but nod my head in agreement and slightly giggle every time I look at the schedule.  In the month or so before each conference, there’s an absolute FRENZY for pedestals.  This year we have over 100 shows.  I’d say the average number of pieces in any given NCECA show is about 50, so that translates to 5,000 pedestals?????  Needless to say, I’m sure there were some creative solutions to “the pedestal problem”, but as you will find out in Eleanor’s session, alternatives to pedestals need not be just for practical reasons.  How art is displayed can enhance or detract from the viewer’s experience.  Student Perspectives Programming sessions are proposed and led by students, but all conference attendees are welcome to attend and enjoy.  Eleanor kicks off all the student session with her presentation at 9am on Thursday in room 3501C.

unspecified-1In addition to Student Perspectives, we have a whole room programmed with sessions designed to meet the needs of our K-12 audience.  It really is exciting to see our membership growing to include more teachers and their students!  The last couple of years the popularity of the sessions in these rooms have grown exponentially, and with this year’s lineup, I am certain they will be packed again.  One session I am excited to draw your attention to is the one hour lecture titled “STEAMing Ahead: Art, Science & Design Thinking.”  When the NCECA board met in Lawrence last May, the Lawrence Arts Center hosted us in their gallery.  At that time, their summer ARTspace camps were just gearing up, and the lobby was filled with life-sized game boards, with pieces made by the kids themselves.  IMG_9389Lawrence Arts Center Summer Camps have included a Dr. Who Time Lord camp, a Jedi Camp, Spy camps, Box City (each summer a different city is picked, and campers use cardboard boxes and zip ties to build the skyline.  It’s is SO cool)  Each of their camps includes components of art, dance, music, movement, but also ties in core curricula.  They even have a resident scientist that works with each camp one day of the week. The Lawrence Arts Center also presents spring break camps and schools out day-camp opportunities, all of which further their STEAM concept.  Their offerings are always interesting and creative.  Kids attend and have fun and don’t even realize they are learning about Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics through Art.  Meanwhile, jealous parents have to go off to their regular jobs, even in the summer (life’s not fair).  Learn more about the Lawrence Arts Center’s creative curriculum on Thursday at 12:30 in room 3501G/H.

IMG_0541What could be better than a presenter who looks like an iconic Kansas civil war notable, with the mustache and beard to match, and who talks about other old, bearded, historical figures?  …One who can also explain everything about how your kiln works.  David Sturm, Kansas’s own kiln repair guru, will give an informative and entertaining lecture on the electric kiln, the piece of equipment that he believes is the “Joule” of the studio.  (if you don’t know why that’s funny, definitely come to this lecture, you’ll be laughing before you leave for sure..either for this or something else he says.)  Dave has 20 years of experience teaching probably tens of thousands of both potters and professors about everything from wiring diagrams and “guts” of an electric kiln to best practices for firing, to fixing what’s broken.  In my almost 20 years of knowing Dave, I’ve never seen anyone stump him….at least not with a kiln question.  However, when I asked him if he’d ever been stumped, he said

“me?  sure.  Everyone’s been stumped, and if they tell you they haven’t, they’re lying.  That’s how we learn.”

So I guess I should amend my statement to say that I’ve never seen David permanently stumped.  If it happens that he doesn’t immediately know the answer, he will continue to research the problem until he finds the solution.  He’s kind of stubborn that way….I guess it’s good to have a stubborn kiln tech.  So I’d encourage you to bring your most complicated kiln conundrums, quandaries, or even calamities, because he’s leaving time for questions!  Friday, 12:30 in 2501A!