"Present Tense" Conference Recap

"Present Tense" Conference Recap

Scenes from "Present Tense"


The American Craft Council presented its 12th national conference in the warm and welcoming city of Omaha, Nebraska. “Present Tense” took place at Kaneko, a creative space and gallery that we filled with multi-layered discussions about the state of the craft field today.

Attendees were a diverse group of more than 300 makers, scholars, curators, students, collectors, and arts professionals – the many constituents that together form the community of contemporary craft. Thanks to the tremendous support of our generous conference sponsors, 65 students and emerging professionals received scholarships and travel assistance allowing them to attend the conference.

I got the chance to network and meet people and learn about their work. I feel the whole atmosphere at the conference was set to encourage attendees to take advantage of all of the activities offered and to enjoy and learn about the art scene in Omaha. ~Katherine Rodriguez Hernandez, scholarship recipient

By planning the event with no concurrent programing, ACC ensured a shared experience – one where everyone participated together in examining big picture ideas and challenges. Programing included six moderated sessions on critical topics, four unique speakers from different backgrounds and disciplines, common-interest conversations, tours, and author talks.

Overall, there were 27 speakers throughout the conference. The result was active listening and engaging dialogue. In between sessions, attendees were able to visit ACC’s Library Lab, which featured author talks and materials from our collection and archives, or tour a captivating exhibition curated by Ree Kaneko: "Passion & Obsession: From the Collection," featuring works by Therman Statom, Viola Frey, Jun Kaneko, and Goro Suzuki.

A highlight of the weekend was the celebration of the 2016 American Craft Council Awards, including the induction of seven individuals into the College of Fellows, the presentation of the Gold Medal for Consummate Craftsmanship, and recognizing the new honorees of the Aileen Osborn Webb Award for Philanthropy and the the Award of Distinction.

The ACC Awards ceremony simply made me cry. The loving craftspeople who are the best in the field standing on stage, so venerable in their great accomplishments, filled me with love and energy. However, it was the loving and caring community who stood up applauding that overwhelmed me with tears. It was the first time I realized what a great group of people I’m with, while I am, almost surprisingly, one of them. ~Yushan Cassie Sun, scholarship recipient

The mood was vibrant, connections were made, and collaboration opportunities were actively being sought. The conversations – both planned and spontaneous – made “Present Tense” a seminal conference experience for all who attended. Scholarship recipient Katherine Soucie summed it up well, “Craft is innovative and has the capacity to sustain us. It has done so in the past, continues to do so in the present, and will provide for us the future.”

Video Playlist: Watch the moderated sessions and featured speakers