Posted by Joshua Green, Executive Director
*NCECA Board of Directors at Kohler Co., May 17, 2013 in front of Jack Earl’s Lunchroom Mural*
A Message from NCECA President
I know things are getting back to normal as I, just yesterday, was able to tend to some long needed personal chores, laundry, dishes, watering the cacti… bathing my two decorative poodle mixes. As I completed my spring-cleaning in my bathroom, standing by my Kohler toilet, I reminisced about our board meeting where we were able to tour the Kohler factory in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I will forever see my toilet in a new light, a special and enlightened relationship… a unique appreciation.
For many years I’ve heard the amazing stories of the Arts/Industry Residency Program that was initiated at Kohler Co. in 1974 by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. As if giving birth to this remarkable residency was not enough, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center also is a home to a remarkable venue dedicated to exhibiting contemporary work in museum-quality setting coupled with a mission to provide visionary and accessible educational programs. It was not until I saw these astounding organizations in action that I can now fully appreciate their exceptional significance. The Kohler Arts/Industry Residency Program has granted access to processes, equipment, technical knowledge, skills and human resources enabling artists to undertake creation of new works through the Kohler Co’s. industrial pottery facility as well as the iron and brass foundries.
For clay folks this experience would be akin to the big dreaming after buying the occasional lottery ticket for the multimillion-dollar prize. Yes, it is possible to pipe perfectly deflocculated mixed slip into each room of your house, the only barrier being a nozzle that you turn, boggles the mind. Ruth Kohler was so gracious in greeting the NCECA board before our meeting at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and then after at a reception where she shared with us her visionary story. In March 2014, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Arts/Industry program with, among other projects, an exhibition spanning twelve galleries, which will open during the NCECA conference in Milwaukee. There will be much to do, see and celebrate when we join each other in 2014.
Many of you are aware of the surveys that were generated by our new Communications Director, Cindy Bracker. The comprehensive eighty-eight-page (that’s not a typo, it was actually eighty-eight pages) report that was shared with the board prior to our meeting helped us to respond directly to our membership in planning the 2014 conference. Among other things the survey report underscored the diverse backgrounds and programming interests of our conference registrants. NCECA’s core conference programming has long been driven by a traditional lecture and panel discussion format. Over time NCECA has broadened this concept to include Student-led Programming, Topical Discussions and NCECA Connections. In 2013 NCECA went a step further when it initiated pilot programs including the Process Room and Wednesday Gallery Expo programming.
During our recent meeting in Milwaukee, NCECA’s board had one of the most intense discussions on conference programming in recent memory to arrive at the decision to schedule two concurrent sessions of lectures and panel discussions while dedicating more significant spaces and tech support to diverse modalities of programming developed out of our Process Room and Wednesday Gallery Expo programming pilots. The board thanks all those that submitted proposals for consideration as we realize the time and thought that go into these efforts. All the proposals were meritorious and it was an extremely daunting task to balance the line-up. Our headline speaker list is utterly impressive, so keep your ears and eyes open for news in the coming months. We will also unveil some refinements NCECA is planning for the Process Room, Wednesday Gallery Expo Programming and Student Programming soon. Our focus at the meeting was on making the things we already do even better. These different types of presentations create a texture that will serve to stimulate and inspire. Milwaukee is shaping up to be the conference that you will not want to miss.
NCECA has made many friends in Wisconsin. You should be aware of a brewing relationship with the Chipstone Foundation, a remarkable organization dedicated to promoting scholarship in the decorative arts. Our friendship has some overlapping goals and you will be very interested in what that looks like for the advancement of the field. We also had a presentation from The Little Friends of Printmaking who will be designing our poster and other graphic elements that you will see leading up to and at the conference. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have them on board and we can’t wait for you to see what they’ve got in the works. We are extremely thrilled about our second On-Site Conference Liaison, Mel Buchanan, Assistant Curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum who joined the board right after the Houston conference and will be co-curating the NCECA 2014 Invitational at the MAM.
The entire Milwaukee region extending to Sheboygan, Racine and Chicago is exemplary for the manner in which the industry, arts, culture and education interact in a symbiotic relationship. NCECA has worked diligently to develop relationships throughout this region and we hope that our membership will reap the benefits to experience a true local flavor of Milwaukee, which is sophisticated, complex and world class. I have fallen in love with the city and I know you will too. It will afford us the charm and intimacy that only an open-armed, supportive arts community can. If you haven’t been to Milwaukee yet; we can’t wait for you to meet her.
You have reached out to us in emails and through the recent survey. Thank you for taking the time to share your perspectives with us. We are a membership-driven organization and you’d be shocked to see how seriously we take that definition. We have heard you, we are nimble and we have made efforts to respond to your feedback. Expect more updates over the summer and feel free to send us any thoughts you have, we love hearing from you.
Lunchroom Mural, 1976
120 x 168.75 x .5 in. (40 tiles, 21 1/2 x 20 x .5 in. each)
slip cast vitreous china, created through the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Arts/Industry Program
Today, May 28, 2013
Earth Moves: Shifts in Ceramic Art and Design is a national exhibition open to artists working throughout the US. Ceramic artists examining creative responses to shifts in world and work are encouraged to submit images for consideration. This blended invitational and competitive ceramic exhibition explores the challenges and opportunities of evolving technologies, approaches to materials, studio practices and market. NCECA and the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities are collaborating on this national exhibition. NCECA Exhibitions Director, Linda Ganstrom will work with Arvada Center’s Exhibitions Director, Collin Parson and Ceramics Director, Bebe Alexander to select works for the exhibition. The exhibition takes place September 12 – November 10, 2013 at the Arvada Center, a top venue for contemporary art in Denver. The entry deadline is midnight EDT, May 28, 2013.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Flow: The 2014 NCECA Invitational will be a cornerstone of the ceramic art experience being developed throughout the region. Flow will be held at the architecturally stunning Milwaukee Art Museum from February 22 to March 23, 2014. NCECA Exhibitions Director Linda Ganstrom and Mel Buchanan, Mae E. Demmer Assistant Curator of 20th-century Design at the Milwaukee Art Museum are exhibition organizers and co-curators. The 2014 NCECA Invitational explores the significance of flow in physical, historical and symbolic manifestations. We experience flow through material and movement as embodied in water, clay and glaze. Flow can also be a feeling as manifested in the quality of a line or the experience of music. Flow is also the energy of electricity and Ideas. Artists can flow in a state of focused motivation that brings a deep enjoyment to the process of their activity. Our present fluidly becomes our past. The museum promotes the flow of culture through the presentation of artworks and ideas of material culture. Included artists will be eligible for a limited reimbursement of shipping expenses and receive a complimentary copy of the exhibition catalog.