Five Memorable Moments from NCECA's 2018 Conference

Five Memorable Moments from NCECA's 2018 Conference

Kyle and Kelly Phelps NCECA 2018

A view of Kyle and Kelly Phelps’ “Honoring the Blue Collar Working Class” exhibition, on view at Standard Ceramic Supply during NCECA's 2018 conference.

Megan Guerber

"CrossCurrents: Clay and Culture," the 52nd conference organized by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), took over Pittsburgh this past week. The annual convening is a time for both critical thinking and celebration, with programming that ranges from discussions and lectures to live demonstrations and a dance party.

It’s the type of event where FOMO is unavoidable – in a good way. There’s simply so much going on that there is no way you can take it all in. And although the scheduled programming is relevant and inspiring – exploring topics such as social media, inclusion, and sustainability, sometimes the little moments in between big events (meeting someone new and talking about something unexpected, for example) are the most memorable.

Taking that into account, here is a list of my top five memorable moments from NCECA’s 2018 conference:

1. Talking with Martha Vida from the Marks Project. She’s on a mission to recover forgotten craft histories from 1946 to the present via a researchable online database of artists’ stamps, chops, and signatures. She feels an urgency to record the marks of midcentury and regional makers, whose contributions to the field are at risk of disappearing. But she’s also committed to inspiring emerging and mid-career makers to document their own work for the sake of the craftspeople and art historians of the future. “I’m concerned about the artists of today being a part of the legacies of tomorrow,” she says.

2. Encountering Ibrahim Said’s larger-than-life vessels in person. The works were part of the dynamic “Garden (Feast) of Paradise” exhibition, an exploration of objects for the table inspired by Islam and the Middle East, on view at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

3. Meeting the 2018 NCECA Emerging Artists: Natalia Arbelaez, Adam Chau, Wade MacDonald, Janet Macpherson, Sara Parent-Ramos, and Andrew Leo Stansbury. Keep an eye peeled for these names, clay fans. You’re about to see them everywhere. 

4. Strolling through the exhibitions hosted at Standard Ceramic Supply in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. Kyle and Kelly Phelps’ show “Honoring the Blue Collar Working Class,” with sculptures displayed atop stacked boxes in the production facility, was particularly dramatic – especially with the churning, mechanical sounds of Standard Ceramic’s machines echoing against them.

5. And last, but not least: meeting new friends.

Megan Guerber at NCECA

Megan Guerber poses with David Kenton Kring's Unleashed (2018). Photo: Courtesy of Megan Guerber