[box] Attending my first international ceramic conference.[/box]
NCECA is a well known acronym in the ceramic world and everyone gets pretty excited about going and a tad disappointed if they can’t. NCECA stands for National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s conference after much encouragement from my ‘patron’ (the hubby!). Its funny now, since coming home and reading an article on a local politician who’s mantra is “when things get tough to say loudly ‘I am living the dream’”, this comment confirms that I made the right decision to attend. NCECA provided an opportunity to network, make new friends, see old friends and broaden my views on what is happening locally in the USA and internationally in the scene of ceramics/pottery.
Over four days I attended presentations, lectures and demos. I helped my former teacher/Head of the Ceramics Workshop Janet DeBoos hand out information to prospective students/workshop attendees on opportunities available at the Australian National University School of Art. While I could only help for 1 day, it was great to meet students (primarily from the USA) who were keen to find out about Australia, where Canberra was located, what the weather is like and how competitive the selection process is to obtaining a place. When you have 4500 delegates attending the 2012 conference and ‘the biggest category of people attending NCECA are students’ (according to the President of NCECA)…then no wonder they work hard to obtain a place and pursue their passions.
I was lucky to have met internationally renowned ceramicist Robin Hopper earlier in our travels who provided advice when attending NCECA. He warned me it would be full-on; to make sure I went to the emerging artist’s presentations and most important – to enjoy. Well he was right! It was full on…the first day after talking to umpteenth students/artists/exhibitors my voice went slightly hoarse. But it was worth it. I realize now attending an arts conference of this size allowed me to experience a rich and diverse program.
In particular, on day three the demonstrating artists – Jason Walker and Christa Assad – were informative, entertaining and as dynamic as each other in their approach to working with clay. I must have taken 100 photos and Walker provided amusement by telling the audience to photograph now as he poured the slip in slow motion!
Walker is very methodical in the way he works – he takes one month to create an object and I think he was bemused that we (the audience) had the patience to watch him slowly slab form his fish object.
Assad was fabulous and a born entertainer. I’ve never seen someone work on the wheel, talk, talk and continue to talk while throwing and assembling necessary components to create a ceramic fire hydrant.
I stayed for as long as I could but in the end had to leave to attend the next lecture. While NCECA produced a fantastic program, I struggled to make the nail biting decision of what to attend as there were a few clashes. Apparently I was not alone as many other attendees faced the same dilemma.
I really enjoyed attending NCECA and wish I could expand on it more. Perhaps the most enjoyable moment for me was meeting an artist at a local art gallery showcasing sculpture by 13 selected ceramic artists from Hawaii. I was quite oblivious to whom he was and the gallery owner delighted in telling me ‘did I know Shigeru Miyamoto?’ I said ‘no and apologized as I didn’t really know American ceramic artists as there are so many’. As it turns out I was standing right next to Miyamoto – an established ceramicist based in Hawaii. He was so nice and not at all bothered at my faux pas. We got the shuttle bus back to the centre and talked about all sorts of things and when we parted ways Shigeru gave me a farewell kiss on the cheek. Wow! How’s that for a cool dude and moi being so chuffed at her networking abilities.