New York City hosts the National Art Convention in 2017

11 03 2017


It was my very first visit to this majestic city and I could not be more excited.  I found the sites of the city a big draw and I wanted to explore whenever I had a free moment.  I did not feel intimidated by the city, in fact just the opposite, I felt invigorated.  I NEED to go back for another visit very soon to see all the galleries and beautiful architecture.

This year’s convention was very different for me.  Yes, I was presenting about my choice art program which is a big demand for educators, but I stepped up to help lead the ChoiceArt NAEA Interest Group.  I have a lot to say and share about this pedagogy because I live it daily, it has changed everything about how I approach supporting developing artists.  I love it but I am still learning, adapting, and growing so this matters to me.  The sentimental side of me feels that I am finally honoring my college professors dream by helping to serve the organization that she believed in so much.  It is an honor to help move art education to a new plateau.  I am up for the challenge because I believe in children and the power of art.  Art education is so much more than color theory and design; it’s about bridging the internal human side to the exterior human side.  Helping children learn how to express and manipulate the world with independence is amazing.


You see it in the passion of every educator that has a following at the NAEA convention.  I witness people light-up with joy when seeing Cassie Stephens, Katherine Douglas, Holly Bess Kincaid, and so many more.  It’s cool because what changes the space between the art teacher and the “Rock Star” status art teacher, is their passion and how they send that out to the world.  WE all have that ability but for some reason we don’t push out our talents into the world.  You are all capable of it.  I believe in pushing out into the world what you want.  I am often so exhausted by the efforts that I put out every day.  I realize not everyone is as passionate but I cannot turn it off.

My art convention was different this year because of the added responsibility to serve as a leader in the NAEA Interest Group and I had to present.  I wasn’t able to attend all the sessions I wanted to attend, but it proved out that most of the sessions I would have attended, I may not have been able to see them anyways due to the small rooms.  This was very disappointing.  In fact, I was very disappointed in the space I had for my session, it was a 1/3 the space of my own studio.  I knew it was too small and tried to get a bigger room but I was denied.

I made several observations this year and one of the observations I made was the number of teachers who could not get into a session, so they sat up against a wall with a plug to charge their electronics.  Sad- we pay our way too often and to not be able to get the professional development we earmarked on our agendas is terrible.  So when I had the opportunity to voice my suggestions to make improvements to next year’s convention, you bet I spoke up.

One of my suggestions was to allow the Interest Groups to set up “campfires” and “playgrounds” to have a schedule of mini sessions to help serve our educators who are interesting in learning new techniques, ideas, tools, etc.  I think all the educators who didn’t get their proposals accepted can then submit them for a mini session that meets in a specific area with the Interests group leading the way.  We can also host meet-ups throughout the day so the “celebrity” art educators can meet the crowd but still get the chance to enjoy the sessions they want to participate in to help them continue to be the “rock stars” that they are.

I am not sure how much impact I will have in the NAEA organization but I know I would love to be able to count on plan B if I cannot get to one session.  I like to maximize my professional development because this is the big convention, I want it ALL!

My time in NYC was enhanced by having the chance to meet-up the Jie Qi, the inventor of @Chibitronics paper circuits.  I met her in Denver at the ISTE Convention and I was able to have Jie come to my school for four incredible days with my artists.  She is amazing and I am thrilled to call her my friend.  I was able to connect Jie with Tim Needles and she participated in the STEAM- Makers Space Session.  In addition, I was also able to see the #K12ArtChat Grundlers, meet several people who I communicate with regularly online during Tweet-ups and FB discussions.  I was even invited to a dinner with TAB/Choice Art educators for the first great meal I had the whole convention.  Very nice.

I squeezed in a Picasso Book Series author meet-up and I popped in late to the School Arts Magazine author meet-up…I had soooo much on my plate it was overflowing. (I am in the Picasso Sea book- Cy Twombly  Trumpet Fish) Picasso Sea Book

My days since the convention have been blurred by the business of art show set up and Regional Director responsibilities.  I am trying to meet all the expectations of the art educators in my region and also my school community expectations for our Fine Arts Showcase.

During all the daily work of my day I was notified about the School Arts article about my students creating works inspired by Heather Hansen.  Wow!  Pretty cool and my students looked so wonderful.  For years I read this magazine and love the articles and now my words and photos are in the magazine.  I swear, celebrate the little things and big things, it all adds up on a really difficult day.Kinetic Body Drawings

I have many “irons in the fire” including the Recycle Fashion Runway Show, Senior Scholarship Competitions, local art contests, and AP Art Portfolio’s.  It’s a battle to the end but I am loving the student results.

Upper School Visual Arts

My next post hopefully will be filled with great announcements of art awards.  We got a few winners already but I want more!

Perspectives Shift.png

Ben Gatewood – Senior “Perspectives Shift”







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