Tampa, Seattle, Houston, Milwaukee, and now Providence…

Hard to believe that this year will be Student Perspective’s 5th birthday. Wow! Time sure does fly by.

I still remember my first board meeting as the new student director for NCECA, and the idea of a student programming thread being put forth as we sat around the conference table down in Tampa, back in May of 2010. I was still absorbing the fact that I was a board member, and learning the ropes of how a board meeting worked, and what my role as student director would be.

It was pretty exciting to realize that one of the things I would get to do would be to create Student Perspectives (SP). The premise was to create a line of programming at the annual conference that was created by, and sometimes for students. Such a simple concept. The only criterion for applying is that you must a student of some sort – undergrad, grad, post-bacc. One year a high school student even applied.

I am still in awe of what an amazing opportunity this is for students – to present in front of a national audience. To be treated as a professional, to meet deadlines, to prepare a researched, polished and rehearsed presentation. What a great experience, and a way to share information with people from all over the country, even the world. A chance to meet those with similar views/tastes/ideas, and of course, it never hurts to add that line to your CV….

For NCECA conference attendees, this is a great way to meet the next generation of movers, shakers and thinkers. When I look back through my files to see who presented during the first couple years, I see names of those who are steadily gaining prominence in our field, who continue to be active members of the ceramics community, who are developing new ideas, new work, new approaches to our field. I am proud to call many of them friends, friendships developed through working together to make this new line of programming a success.

What has impressed me the most as I have watched SP grow and evolve is the professionalism of the students who present, the broad range of topics that have been addressed and the diversity of the audience. In Tampa, the first time we offered student programming, we had standing room only crowds at the majority of the presentations, and had to increase the size of the room the following year. It wasn’t just other students or their professors coming to hear the presentations. People of all sorts were interested in the topics being presented, a win-win situation for both the student presenters and the audience.

As for topics, the range of subjects is huge – from something you are experimenting with (clay bodies), or historic research that informs your work and would be of interest to others (Japanese haniwa) to topics that are of specific interest TO students, such as thinking about graduate school, or residencies, or a discussion of what comes after that degree everyone works so hard for. Why not a discussion of why grad school isn’t the only solution to continuing your education? Presentations have covered curatorial issues, discussions of concept, social activism, the impermanence of clay…. to rare earth oxides.

The only topic that is taboo is a presentation of your work. This is not an opportunity to introduce yourself as an artist to the NCECA membership. (For that, you need to be chosen as an emerging artist, and I will be there in the audience, listening and cheering you on.)

So students, what are you waiting for? Take a few minutes to collect your thoughts, and then get to work on applying to Student Perspectives. Professors, mentors, friends, encourage the students you know to take advantage of this opportunity.

Deadline for proposals is December 8th.