The symposium featured six well-known ceramic artists: Sunshine Cobb, Gerit Grimm, Chris Gustin, Akio Takamori, Patti Warashina and Stan Welsh. Sunshine Cobb and Gerit Grimm were both about my age, while the other artists were older and more experienced. Unlike most of the other workshops that I have attended, the artists at the symposium were demonstrating in groups of two. Sunshine Cobb and Gerit Grimm were in one room, Akio Takamori and Patti Warashina were in another and Stan Welsh and Chris Gustin were in the last room. Because of the dual presenters, there was much more dialog going on about things other than clay techniques. While the presenters were demoing, they were also taking questions from the audience both about techniques but also about the business of ceramics and making art. I really enjoyed this because I felt that I was able to take away something far more valuable to me than a new way of coiling clay or throwing cylinders.
Gerit Grimm and Sunshine Cobb are still emerging artists, so they talked about the residencies that they have completed and their struggles to find a permanent clay home and a living. At the same time, they both seemed really happy to be making their living doing something they loved and were very enthusiastic and encouraging.
On the other side of the spectrum were Chris Gustin and Stan Welsh, who have been making their living in clay for quite some time and have seen many changes in "the biz" over the years. I particularly remember them talking about how technology has crept into the art business. The question came up about the relevance of new technologies like CNC machines and 3D printers in artwork. One asks how those technologies will fit into handcraft like ceramics and pottery. I'm not sure that we will know for certain for quite some time as society as a whole is still trying to figure out what to do with these technologies. Stan Welsh also had a really good idea about sending out little books, like Blurb books (blurb.com) to galleries instead of CDs of work. This way the gallery has an easy, low tech way of viewing images of work that is immediate. Kind of like a postcard, but with more depth.
All in all, I had a very enjoyable weekend. Now I just need to get caught up on housework ;)