Gray matter*: the stuff between your ears and between your years (of official education).

As mentioned in a previous post, the Gray Area is a space for programming that didn’t quite fit elsewhere, but still has important information to share.  In very recent years, NCECA has observed a growing portion of its membership of artists who are not educated in the ceramic arts through the traditional BFA and MFA programs at accredited institutions.  Across the country, we are seeing a rise in craft schools, residencies, apprenticeships and other non-traditional learning.  These “grey area” presentations can help guide you either post-schooling, or in lieu of schooling, giving ideas or insight into using your ceramic skills to better yourself and others.

Friday is jam-packed with some great ways to bring clay to your community or expand your studio practice. Starting out is Jeremiah Donovan presenting the Future of the Maya Past. Donovan combines the archaeological research from Belize with the instruction of others in that ceramic cultural heritage. He worked with artists at the San Antonio Women’s Cooperative developing an entrepreneurial ceramic production based on Ancient Maya ceramic traditions revealed by the excavation.

Nick DeFord’s panel then gives insider information on residency programs.  Making a Residency Program boasts three administrators who will discuss managing a residency program.  Addressing all aspects of administration of a residency, from the initial review process to what can make a successful resident, this will be helpful to any who are applying for a residency or those who are entertaining the idea of starting their own program.

Outside the Academy is the panel initiated by Ursula Hargens focusing on the topic of alternative learning.  This presentation will explore new ceramic educational models designed to address the changing needs of non-traditional learners. Showcased will be educational initiatives with flexible structures that pay special attention to individual learning goals. These programs often partner with existing institutional to work with students who are doing their learning outside of traditional academic institutions or maybe at different stage of life.

Another venue for education outside of the Higher Ed model are residencies. Adventures in Craft School! lead by the ebullient Jason Bige Burnett will help you get the most out of your residency once there.  This panel will share how craft schools can create milestones at any stage in your career by shining a light onto these unique educational programs, scholarships, fellowships and residencies.

Recreating Greek Pottery shares the journey Matt Hyleck had when partnering with a local university’s archaeology program. This panel presents an innovative class which paired conservator from Johns Hopkins University with a Baltimore Clayworks’ potter seeking insight into Greek black and red pottery.  They made terra sig and kylixes, built a kiln from scratch, bricks and all, and used wood to fire it, hoping to achieve the black on red designs.

Often we have these ceramics skills, but not sure how to share them. one way to spread the gospel of clay is to become a community artist.  Dominique Ellis and her panel will share various ways in Models of Community Outreach.   From setting up community satellite sites, to bringing the clay to your students and ideas in between you will gain an understanding of ways to engage and inspire your neighborhood.

We hope by the end of the day, you will come away with intriguing ideas of using your ceramic talents to discover new ways to connect with your community, university programs or craft schools and to make a living and a life at what you love.

*Grey Matter is also an excellent Oingo Boingo song.