Seen & Heard: 2017 NCECA Conference

Seen & Heard: 2017 NCECA Conference

Published on Monday, April 3, 2017.
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Installation by NCECA Emerging Artist, Christina Erives

A show-stopping installation by Christina Erives, an NCECA Emerging Artist.

A record number of students, teachers, scholars, and hobbyists descended on Portland, Oregon, for the 2017 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference March 22 – 25. The schedule of events was jam-packed to satiate the visual and educational appetites of the 6,008 attendees, who partook in the lectures, panels, workshops, live demos, marketplace, resource fair, and 100 or so exhibitions staged at galleries, museums, schools, and art centers throughout the region.  

A keynote address by well-known art critic Jerry Saltz kicked off four days of learning and engagement. Saltz was humorous at times and somber at times, but his talk was a steadily profanity-laden call for artists to get back to work during these times of political upheaval, to engage in art criticism, and to avoid getting bogged down by intentionality and labels. He advised the crowd: "Art is not about understanding. It is about experience." Two other memorable Saltz quotes for the evening: "Does art matter? That's like asking if love matters." and "Don't go out and try to make political art. You already are." 

The two days following the keynote were a whirlwind of activity. See our image gallery below for visuals of our favorite works and programmatic moments. As has been the case in the past, the Emerging Artists' lectures on the final day were perhaps the high point of the conference. Artists Jessica Brandl, Rachel Eng, Christina Erives, Brooks Oliver, Kate Roberts, and Judd Schiffman each gave moving overviews of their influences and the meaning behind their critically recognized works.

Legendary ceramist, educator, and ACC Fellow Jim Melchert gave the closing lecture. He gave an emotional account of the value of the National Endowment for the Arts through his experience as a former director of its Visual Arts Program and challenged the audience to consider the ways in which ceramic artists relate to and differ from one another as understood through the identities of three Hindu Gods: Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva.

Check out the 2017 conference content on the NCECA YouTube channel for recordings of many wonderful lectures. Subscribe to be notified as NCECA adds more conference recordings in the coming weeks. Plus, thousands of uses of the hashtag #NCECA2017 can also be found on Instagram and Twitter, providing some amazing firsthand accounts and conference highlights from those who attended.