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nceca simultaneous demonstrations--some observations

updated wed 7 apr 04


Dave Finkelnburg on mon 5 apr 04

Hi all!
I am enjoying the discussion of one of the simultaneous demonstrations
in Indianapolis last month. I didn't see it because I was busy with so many
other things, and spent the mornings watching the demos by Sam Chung, Lisa
Orr and Dan Anderson.
Watching a demonstration workshop is always hard for me because I learn
much more by doing than observing. Still, I learn some great things
because usually these are great presenters.
First, the setting is a little mind boggling. Imagine three clay
artists at work on an elevated stage with a big projection screen behind
each one. The artist on the right is working in front of the large
projected video of the one working on the left. The artist in the middle at
least has the benefit of working in front of herself at work. All the
artists are wearing microphones. This way a thousand people at once can and
do see and hear these demonstrations. People wander in and out all the
time, coming from or leaving to other sessions.
With this mobile crowd demonstrators have to assume a question asked now
has not been heard by many in the audience. Thus, the same question is
likely to be asked more than once.
Only experienced workshop presenters should be doing this sort of demo.
And it helps if they have a sense of humor, are considerate and good
listeners. The presenters I watched were all of the above.
I was fascinated to observe how diligently they worked during the two
3-hour sessions to describe their personal backgrounds, their artistic
influences, their artistic intent, as well as their materials and methods.
This each managed to do in one-third of the demo time while considerately
leaving time for the other two presenters to do the same.
Any demonstration workshop can, at times, be as entertaining as watching
paint dry. Chung, Orr and Anderson are quite different artists but I
thought they worked very well together to make their simultaneous
demonstrations watchable and informative.
Good potting!
Dave Finkelnburg

Rikki Gill on tue 6 apr 04

I would like to add to Dave's comment that I was mesmerized, and watched the
same people for actually 9 hours. The last three hours were slide
presentations by each. I took notes, digital images and made sketches, to
understand how each was made. I don't plan to suddenly develope a line of
Sam Chung ewers, but it was so fascinating to see them evolve from his
hands. What I saw will enrich my work in totally unplanned ways, on a
subconscious level. I have watched the presentations at every NCECA I have
gone to, and to me, they are the certerpiece.
I don't want people who haven't yet attended NCECA to have a bad impression
because of one presenter who represented another viewpoint. To me she
sounds defensive and a bit embarrassed be the bruhaha.
Rikki Gill

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Finkelnburg"
Subject: NCECA Simultaneous Demonstrations--some observations

spent the mornings watching the demos by Sam Chung, Lisa
> Orr and Dan Anderson.

> these are great presenters.

Maurice Weitman on tue 6 apr 04

I appreciated Dave Finkelnburg's observations and share many of his views.

My own NCECA experience is shallower than that of most clayarters
since I have only attended the last two conferences.

In San Diego last year, I sat through just about all of the
simultaneous demos, mostly absorbed by what was happening up there.
Perhaps as compelling were the dialogue, anecdotes, philosophies, and
of course the narratives of the techniques being demonstrated. I was
completely absorbed and enchanted by watching and listening to Jeff
Oestreich, Jane Shellenbarger, and Lana Wilson.

Like Dave, I was not able to confine myself to those seats for twelve
hours this year. Or even three. There was so much else going on,
including shmoozing in the clayart room. So I didn't get to see Ms.
Paul's entire performance, but I felt that I'd witnessed enough to
have gotten the gist.

For those of you who weren't there, or who didn't read the NCECA
program description, here's what is written, presumably by her, to
describe what will be presented:

"Adelaide Paul will make small porcelain dogs in lush, disturbing
settings. She will talk about her investigation of the role of the
domestic dog in American Society; she contends that they occupy an
uneasy dichotomy between their roles as icons of idealized virtues
and as hapless victims of a voracious consumer culture."

Now, when I read this on Wednesday night, I had to read it several
times before I felt that I had actually read with some understanding
what was written. I was tired. My standards were lax. I felt
curious enough to want to check it out.

I could not sit through even one of Ms. Paul's six hours of
crocheting, yet I agreed with the sense of Jennifer Boyer's
characterization/review: "Beginner crocheters are torture to watch
even IF their banter is edgy."

From what I've read and heard, Ms. Paul never got around to making
her small dogs. I'm not certain about the settings part. I believe
she said that the tubes she was crocheting were to represent dogs'
intestines. That would take care of the disturbing part; I didn't
get to the lush part. Maybe that was in the bar that evening?

So it would appear that on some level, she fulfilled at least part of
what was promised (threatened?) in the program's description.

For me, then, the mystery is: what was the selection process like?
What criteria are used to determine who and what should be on that
stage for six hours? Do the selectors audition the presenters, or at
least have a detailed sense of what the presentation will contain?
Whose needs are to be considered by this selection process?

In the end, I agree with whomever it was who said that a
demonstration such as Ms. Paul's would be best presented as a solo