On February 29th I flew on the red eye to New York City to attend the NAEA conference. I had an incredible time attending presentations, connecting with art teacher friends, and walking around Manhattan. I felt like I had the word tourist pasted to my forehead as I walked around snapping photos. Midtown Manhattan must have a major sculpture on every block! I saw some wonderful window displays and realized that if I was 30 years younger that perhaps would have been my calling! Restaurants had wonderful hand painted signs and interesting interiors. And the buildings were full of wonderful architectural features. Art was everywhere!
One of the exciting events that I participated in at the conference was a TASK party. It’s an interactive art happening in which participants write art challenges on a slip of paper and place them in a box. Then you get to draw someone else’s suggested task. Mine was to create a pair of wings and give them to someone. One of the great supplies at the TASK party was some mint green paper with a foil like quality that could be shaped. I used it as the basis for my wings. I decorated my wings and then had to figure out how to make them wearable. I gave them to a young man, but discovered that when looking at him from the front, the wings did not have a pretty green side to look at. So….more problem solving and working on the wings! By the time they were finished I found an amiable young art teacher that was already wearing a mylar skirt and a chicken mask. The wings were a great additional piece to her attire. The best part of the TASK party was meeting Oliver Herring the TASK party originator! He was so nice answering my questions and chatting with me! In November I had organized a TASK party with the Sequim Museum and Art Center and due to all of the holiday bazaars and holiday shopping rush….nobody came. Now the museum and I have planned to host a TASK party during the summer at the Sequim Lavendar Festival. With all of the people milling around….we should see plenty of action!
One of the best things about an NAEA conference is actually meeting people who’s books and articles you’ve read, or practicing artists like Oliver Herring! The very first people I saw as I stepped onto the escalator at the Hilton Thursday morning after the red eye was Dr. George Szekely and his daughter Ilona Szekely. What a wonderful start to my conference! And as it turned out an incredibly inspiring closing to the conference as Dr. Szekely’s was the last session I attended before heading out to the airport. In my previous professional life as a classroom elementary educator I rarely met leaders in my field. At this conference I was able to chat with Lois Hetland (Studio Thinking author) about the importance of three dimensional learning a passion we both share! How cool is that? Of course I also got to attend sessions presented by Kathy Douglas and Diane Jaquith my two favorite art educator/authors in the world as well as visit with them a bit at our TAB/choice dinner at La Bonne Soup! As I am already acting like an insufferable name dropper I will quit while I’m ahead! (To other conference attendees YOU may not have been mentioned but you were also one of the fascinating people I reconnected with or met at the conference!)
When I came back to the North Olympic Peninsula I had lots of great photos to share with my students. And I think it really made an impression on them, because although I’ve been back for several weeks now, my students are still bringing up the photos and making connections to things we are discussing and creating in the art studio. For instance recently I read a book about Roy Lichtenstein who was born in New York City and my kindergarten students immediately piped up with, “That’s where you went Mrs. Rice!”