Posted by Joshua Green, Executive Director

The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) is committed to creating and sustaining an environment and culture free from harassment in which all people are treated with dignity, fairness, and respect.

NCECA believes that organizations serving people, the arts, teaching and learning will benefit all when they develop, implement, and share policies that address harassment in programs and the fields they serve. Initiatives like these will be most effective when they are linked to broader efforts to achieve equality, inclusion, and fairness. NCECA will be adopting a policy on harassment that will be included in all future presenter, volunteer, employment, and board service agreements.

Opening this conversation, commemorating its effects on individuals and our work cultures is courageous and necessary. Collecting and documenting experiences of workplace bias and toxicity is an important step in helping us all come to grips with understanding the nature and causes of harassment with the ultimate goals of recognizing it when it occurs, seeking justice for those adversely affected, and mitigating against its continuation within our organization and the field we serve.

One way these intentions can become actionable is to provide a conduit for sharing and opportunity for the ceramic arts within a changing world. In doing so, NCECA recognizes that some issues and experiences that have harmed individuals working within our field may be difficult to look at. Making real and meaningful change that leads to more supportive and inclusive modes of working, hearing, and seeing one another may be even more challenging. In the natural world, experiences of growth and change are often accompanied with discomfort and pain. With the involvement of engaged and caring members, NCECA will continue to look for ways to provide avenues for difficult topics and conversations like this one during our annual conference. A new email-box has been created, reports@nceca.net, which will enable members of our community to share, in confidence, reports of harassment that may occur and impact our programming and decisions as an organization.

Watch NCECA e-news and blog postings this autumn for more information about our 2019 conference program as it becomes available. It is our hope that Clay Conversations (formerly topical networking sessions) on Wednesday and a new open source programming space that will be available on Thursday and Friday of the conference in

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Minneapolis will provide time for conversations on critical concerns issues including this one.

Categories: Featured

10 Responses so far.

  1. Teri Spadafora says:

    While I am pleased to read this statement, I can’t help read it with mixed emotions and wonder the real depth of your commitment at NCECA. In an earlier blog by your director of communications, she quoted Picasso which included an offensive and hurtful remark regarding people with special needs. I reached out and asked her to make a correction or a clarification which she did not do. The assumptive statement that to be differently able is bad or “less than”, flies in the face of your blog post today. I’d be curious to see how you justify the two.

    Teri

    Here is her post…

    Posted by Cindy Bracker, Communications Director
    What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who only has eyes if he’s a painter, ears if he’s a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he’s a poet – or even, if he’s a boxer, only some muscles? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being constantly alert to the horrifying, passionate or pleasing events in the world, shaping himself completely in their image.
    -Pablo Picass

    • Hi Teri,
      I’m very sorry that my quote of Picasso offended you. I do not recall receiving any email or contact form from you or i would have most certainly addressed it immediately, as I am doing now. Please note, these were not my words, it was a quote. My own words followed the quote and prefaced a speech from Richard Notkin that was presented at the 2018 conference. I don’t find anything in Picasso’s words (or my own) that even relate to or reference people with special needs. Please know that I am incredibly sensitive to such issues, though I don’t wish to go into personal detail as to why, so I’m unsure what you are reading in that statement that I am missing. I view this quote as being one that encourages people to see past the “obvious” characteristics of a person and recognize that people are more than what is on the surface. We are WHOLE BEINGS, not just the *one thing,* which is merely an attribute or skill for which we are often known.

      • Teri Spadafora says:

        Thank you for your remarks. “Imbecile” would be the offensive terminology (equivolant to the “R” word) and the idea that someone characterized in that manner wouldn’t have any deep value. I understand the historical context of the quote, however there is language we choose not to use anymore, and ideas we do not esspouse due to the inelegant turn of phrase, or having since realized the inaccuracy of the bigoted idea. When we open the doors for inclusion and sensitivity, we need to recognize everyone’s values. You may not have read that with any misgivings (as I am sure you wouldn’t have posted it had you). There are others who would take offense. It jumped off the page at me. This is a difficult and treacherous territory, we all need to be open to the fact that completely unintentionally we may offend.
        I appreciate your follow up, and am pleased to note you didn’t ignore me but perhaps the original message was waylaid.
        Sincerely,
        Teri

      • Corrine Powell says:

        I don’t think an apology is necessary. I found no offense in Picasso’s quote. Should Picasso be banned from the Arts for not being PC? Should we have to vet every word a person uttered?

        • Joe Lee says:

          The attitudes expressed in this response activity contribute to the issues of abuse that this post and the response to this post are seeking to address.

          Just because you do not find any offense does not mean that any offense taken is rendered invalid. This is at the very root of the reports of abuse that are coming out in the community. Just because some people didn’t have any negative experience with a person doesn’t mean that person wasn’t abusive to others.

          Picasso was a groundbreaking artist, but he was also a terrible and abusive person. Being the former does not excuse the latter (watch Hannah Gadsby’s Nannette for a way better explanation than I can ever hope to give here). We have our own Picassos in the ceramics field (i.e. Soldner, Voulkos). If the ceramics community is going to seriously address the issues of abuse being raised, we cannot continue to ignore bad behavior because of benefits to the field.

          This doesn’t mean we “ban” anyone for “not being PC.” It means that we do not ignore abuse.

          I’m actually extremely skeptical that the ceramics community will be able to meaningfully address the issues of abuse that are being brought to light, mainly because I’ve seen so many people within the community express the attitudes in this response. But I hope I am proven wrong.

          • Corrine powell says:

            Except there was no abuse here! We live in an community and we need to learn to get along and not make issues when none was intended. I was offended by the post, I felt it was social media bullying! I have deep issues with bullying, this could go on forever.

        • Joe Lee says:

          like I posted before, I am skeptical that the ceramics community will be able to meaningfully address the issues of abuse that are being brought to light.

          The response post brought to light that there are people who found a post by a representative of NCECA to be hurtful and offensive. When the representative reached out to get a better understanding, the responder offered a detailed explanation of their position.

          Somehow, you read this thoughtful exchange as a case of bullying, and are implying that any kind of response to any suggestions of offense that you do not believe in is somehow a slippery slope to rampant oppression?

          The ceramics field has a long history of those with power and privilege getting a pass for abusing that power and privilege; at the very least the have gotten a pass on not needing to recognize the under represented and under privileged. And this attitude that anyone who brings up that something is potentially offensive cannot be valid and should not even be discussed is why I am skeptical that the ceramics community will be able to meaningfully address the issues that are being brought to light. How can it when there are those within it who do not recognize that the issues of the under represented/under privileged as being even potentially valid, and who find the act of bringing up potential issues as offensive.

          • Corrine powell says:

            No Joe, I still don’t think this public forum was appropriate to chastise someone. And apparently my idea of trying to get along in a community and not probe for slights is being overlooked and invalidated by your anger. You have to really dig deep to take offence of a quote because it uses the word “imbecile”.

            I am very new to the ceramic community. I am just learning at a CC. I just opened my email to a positive message for the executive director and it was used as forum to spew hate and criticize. You have opened my eyes to the hostility that exists against the organization. I am a woman and a minority and I have not felt under respresented or under privileged, although I don’t look for slights.

            Again, I do feel my opinion is not being cosidered or recognized. Try kindness. It’s a better world to live in.

        • Joe Lee says:

          Thank you for providing evidence to back up my skepticism

          • Corrine Powell says:

            Your welcome. Thank you for proving my point that you only value your own opinion! For a community to be healthy everyone needs to be open to ideas. True open mindedness means everyone’s opinion is important.

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