How can you not love a convention that starts like this?
I went to New Orleans to be in the company of 4000 other art educators at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) annual convention. I went as a delegate for the Massachusetts Art Education Association (MAEA), as a presenter, as an award recipient, as a member of a global Professional Learning Network, as a student of best practices in art education. My plate was full and I was excited!
Tuesday was a travel day, which passed quickly with MAEA president, Kristi Oliver, in the seat next to me. Flying from Boston to New Orleans did not take long at all, but what a difference there in climate and atmosphere! We were so happy to finally have a break from our record setting New England winter to feel the warmth and humidity of Louisiana!
Wednesday: The NAEA Delegates Assembly began bright and early the following day. I was elected as President-Elect of the Massachusetts Art Education Association in January and with that, became a voting delegate for Team East of the NAEA Leadership. I had been reading through the position statements and issues group proposals for the past month and we had discussed them with the MAEA executive board. After reviewing them one more time the night before, I felt ready to discuss and debate the various items. I didn’t expect all the gifts and tokens when I arrived!
Two of the issues I felt passionate about were the creation of a Media Arts issues group (different from the Art Education and Technology issues group), and whether or not there should be a position statement endorsing TAB (Teaching Artistic Behaviors) over other teaching methodologies. There were several other important positions and policies to review, and it was a full day. Good thing I had Kristi Oliver by my side to help sort it out.
The day went by quickly and wrapped up late in the afternoon. The next event was the French Quarter Ghosts and Vampires tour with the #artsed PLN. This is a Twitter group that was established by a few active art educators who wanted to connect with other art educators. It has since grown to become a very large group. There is always at least one “Tweet Up” at the convention, and the first one this year was at the tour. We had a lot of laughs and fun together and were having way too much fun to get scared. I can personally thank Chris Parker (@kreyus) for cracking me up non-stop with his one-liners.
Thursday: The next morning was the official opening day of the convention. First we heard the inspirational words of NAEA President Dennis Inhulsen, who would end his term at the close of the convention to become Past-President.
“When I look out and see all of you, I think of you as teachers,” he said, “And when I think of you, I think of all the art education students you’re representing back home.” And I thought about my students back in Massachusetts, and what art education had meant to me when I was their age, and art education in our district, and art education in our state, and art education across the country… and I realized at that moment that what we were doing there in New Orleans was terribly important.
When Dennis was finished, Tim Gunn (Project Runway) took the stage and shared many words of wisdom through an interview format. He was funny, yet motivating as he told his stories about being a fashion student as well as an educator.
Here he is talking about reaching students of all levels, whether they are “brilliant children who fly around with angel wings” or those who struggle with the most basic of tasks:
Seeing Tim Gunn was thrilling. It buoyed me through the rest of the morning as I rehearsed my presentations, which I hadn’t looked at since the weekend before. The first presentation took place at 2:00. It was about my students and my journey with using a 3D printer in the middle school art room:
It went well and there were so many interested people in the room. 3D printing is a fascinating new technology and art educators everywhere are interested in including it in their art curriculum. It’s a natural fit, as you’ll see in the presentation.
There were a lot of questions and connections made after the presentation, and when all was said and done, I had just one hour before my next presentation, which was to be held back at the hotel. While walking there from the convention center, I consciously worked on switching the focus from the 3D printing topic to my next presentation, Extending the Learning Digitally, a collaborative presentation with the one and only #artsed iPad diva and green screen queen, Tricia Fuglestad.
Tricia and I submitted our proposal to NAEA last May. In early August, Tricia’s husband, Dave, had a terrible accident from which his intense recovery continues. When we learned of our workshop acceptance in September, we weren’t sure how we would proceed. We checked in with each other a few times in the fall, and it wasn’t until February that we decided to go onward and forward, with technology making it possible to cover the distance between her home in Chicago and mine in Boston. Here is a little promo video I shared just prior to the convention. I tried to alter my voice to align with Tricia’s, but we all know her lovely, lilting voice is inimitable:
Tricia made a video covering her entries into the presentation. I copied segments to add to our Power Point presentation. Because I was actually presenting, I was able to talk through my content, all still photos, which seems odd as part of the presentation unless you know the back story. Aren’t you glad you know the back story? Here is the link to the presentation: Extending The Learning Digitally If you have any questions about any of my content, contact me, I’ll be happy to explain the projects and methods.
If you are an art educator who has reaped the benefits of Tricia Fuglestad’s talents through her various sharing sites (at the end of the presentation), you may want to visit www.crowdrise.com/FundFugie to readTricia made a video covering her entries into the presentation. I copied segments to add to our Power Point presentation. Because I was actually presenting, I was able to talk through my content, all still photos, which seems odd as part of the presentation unless you know the back story. Aren’t you glad you know the back story? Here is the link to the presentation: Extending The Learning Digitally If you have any questions about any of my content, contact me, I’ll be happy to explain the projects and methods. about Tricia’s husband’s story and support them as he recovers.
I can’t believe I’ve written all of this and I am only through Thursday. Stay with me….
Friday: With my presentations behind me now, I was able to explore the exhibit hall and attend some sessions! A memorable session from this day was Critical Making: Making the Future with Rhode Island School of Design President Roseanne Somerson. This presentation took “making” beyond the 3D printer and maker space to a whole new realm of possibility including furniture. Somerson presented fascinating ideas and her own beautiful work like this:
The Exhibit Hall was bustling with activity. I checked in with the companies whose products I use, such as Dick Blick, Mayco, Artsonia (free T-shirts for subscribers), The Art of Education (fun pins) to see what is new and improved. I picked up a few more posters for the art room and some fun advocacy trinkets. I talked to vendors about new products. One that stands out is Bulb, which is a new online portfolio system that works outside a Learning Management System. When our regional art shows and annual school art show are over, I plan to set up an account and give it a try. I usually wait patiently for a spot at the creativity table of at least one vendor in the exhibit hall, unfortunately there was not time this year.
The next event was the Eastern Region Leadership meeting. This was just a check in meeting with leadership from each of the Eastern states to share accomplishments and challenges. It went quickly and was enlightening and fun. I look forward to spending more time with these people at the Team East retreat in late June.
I would see these people soon at the Eastern Region Awards ceremony later in the afternoon. This is the “princess” part!
With other royalty, Dr. Ruth Starrett, Eastern Region Art Educator of the Year:
Just having a little fun on the way to the President’s Reception:
Saturday: I had the morning without commitments so I took the street car up to the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). I had no idea that there would be an Easter egg hunt and celebration going on in the sculpture garden. The place was hopping.
It was quiet inside the museum and I had a chance to see some nice regional art as well as works by the masters. The museum visit was a stolen moment – a chance to reflect and absorb all I had experienced at the convention. To see more of my “stolen moments” in New Orleans, check out my story on Slate – a new story sharing app: New Orleans
I returned to the convention center via cab in time for the President’s meeting. Following the meeting was a presentation by artist Lisa Hoke, whose work I first discovered in 2012 at the Springfield Museum in Massachusetts. I am a big fan of her vibrant colorful collages created with cardboard packaging, so I was very excited to hear her speak.
After her presentation, I was lucky enough to have a ticket to the after-session with the artist. About 30 of us, gathered in a room with Lisa in the center, talking about her, her work, making a living at art today, and shoes after someone complimented her on her boots. It was a warm and personal experience. Here is Lisa Hoke talking about the creative process and artistic voice:
That succinct summary of what we as artists go through with our work was the perfect last clip from my #NAEA15 NOLA experience. Sigh.
It was hectic and stimulating and thought-provoking. It was great to see friends and meet online acquaintances. The weather was great and the food was terrific. I am so happy I went. My flight left early the next morning and I returned to Boston satiated. Yet I can’t wait until next year!