The organization of the ACC Conference 2009 was like going to a concert. Each lecture progressed to the next like a rising crescendo. The sequence resonated from beginning to end. Each day began with a book author opening the conversation for the day with broad conceptual strokes of information.
While I wasn't particularly keen on Richard Sennett's examples, he did lay a foundation for the conference in expressing a value in quality, the handmade, and problem solving for success. This was reiterated on many occasions from different directions by the subsequent speakers.
Elissa Auther provided a basis for craft culture with a brief insight into historical influences.
Sandra Alfoldy's panel tried their best to pull out a 21st-century craft Identity.
Adam Lerner gave us a Mixed Taste combination that was unforgettable.
Natalie Chanin showed a personal story of success for her and her cottage industry. I just hope they make enough money for health insurance and dental care.
Faythe Levine should glow with enthusiasm given the visibility afforded her Handmade Nation book and video about the D.I.Y. community.
Rob Walker opened our eyes to the competitive nature of discretionary purchases in the art and craft market.
Riding the LONG TAIL may give us whiplash but we should jump on the opportunity instead of pondering about the lack of hierarchy and external validation.
Julie Lasky's "Men in White" skidded sideways on the powerful influence of Industrial Designers...
Robin Petravic showed how great design combined with technical skill and craftsmanship can lead to successful products.
Lydia Matthews kept us awake after lunch by reading really fast .....
Garth Clark was like a double latte with foam on top, very stimulating but some bubbles popped.
Sonya Clark's panel overcame a yes/no "standardized" test format to impart broader insights.
Thanks go to the Conference organizers for putting this all together so well. Next time invite everyone to the party. It will be so much better.
"Lifestyle and Livelihood" the premise of the Conference resurfaced frequently. The debate was illuminating and wonderful, but there remains no solution in sight. A weak economy and a craft marketplace in flux make this harder than ever for the artist or maker trying to make a living from their work. For the speakers that do make their living from their work, such as Natalie Chanin (Alabama Chanin) and Robin Petravic (Heath Ceramics), working from a sincere, authentic place is fundamental for success.
There was a genuine effort to engage the idea of multiple craft communities. This is easy to understand with the sewing community for Project Alabama or the multiple museum curators on stage. On the other hand, the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) and indie community (capably represented by Faith Levine and Garth Johnson) didn't seem to be in the audience. Why not? The same goes for more working artists and makers. It was kind of embarrassing to be one of the few people listed as attending the Conference without a title after my name. Maybe I should have made up my own title since I made up my own role! How about "Exhausted, Overwhelmed Blogger".
If you have any further opinions or insights, please add them to the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.
Amy Shaw has a very nice selection of photos from the American Craft Council Conference on her Flickr page including photos of the speakers, audience, and sculpture in Minneapolis.
This post was updated on January 3, 2022, to provide current links.