Catching up with 2017 - SNAG Conference New Orleans

It is months since the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) Conference in New Orleans this May and I have totally neglected my website. Blog updates are overdue so I am playing catch up and posting the things I would have posted since May. The first is appropriately my report from the SNAG NOLA Conference!

The conference (May 24-27, 2017) was overwhelming wonderful, exceeding my expectations and giving me the opportunity to connect with many people who make art jewellery or work within the field. I arrived a few hours before registration on the Wednesday to install the Bench exhibition Mark Making for Adorned Spaces. At the suggestion of the coordinators, many exhibitors built their displays using cardboard (cheap, easy to travel with and recyclable) and ours was no exception. It was a really fun suggestion and unsurprisingly, no two displays were the same. During set-up I stepped out for half an hour to meet with Bella Neyman, director of the Gallery at Reinstein|Ross in New York, for a portfolio review. Bella is so sweet and very knowledgeable and passionate about art jewellery. She gave me feedback on the work I showed her, suggested that Graduate school  should only be a choice for personal growth, not a 'must-do', and impressed on me the importance of having jewellery photographed ON THE BODY. Sometimes I overlook the obvious and it was great to chat with her about these things. After thanking Bella and returning to finish the Adorned Spaces install it was time for the conference to begin!

Three and half days goes so fast when they are filled with engaging lectures, great company and a full roster of exhibitions. My Queensland College of Art friends, Sam and Jac, had come to the conference from Australia and we happily soaked up everything on offer, including some great New Orleans coffee! Fellow Aussies, Melissa Cameron and Kaoru Rogers (AUS/JP) are both now based in the United States and were also at the conference. It was great to connect with both of them.

A conference is really too much for one blog post but I'll mention a few highlights. Hearing Emily Stoehrer from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Bruce Pepich from the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin talk about their work was a wonderful introduction (for me) to some of the American institutions supporting contemporary craft. I loved Marta Mattsson's lecture about her work with insects and vellum as I had been lucky to see her solo exhibition at The Thiel Gallery in Sweden the same time a year earlier. The art crawl night was also fantastic, travelling around the city on a bus to 8 exhibition venues. Duality of Presence at The Blue House and the exhibitions (and party) at Thomas Mann Gallery I/O were my favourite. The former included so many artists whose work I admire; Jessica Andersen, Lynn Batchelder, Thea Clark, Nikki Couppee, Motoko Furuhashi, Steven Gordon Holman, Alexandra Hopp, Masumi Kataoka, Joshua Kosker, Tova Lund, Sharon Massey, Jayden Moore, Wei Lah Poh, Kerianne Quick (Curator), Kaiya Rainbolt, Yumi Janairo Roth, Jina Seo, Demi Thomloudis, Jess Tolbert (Curator) - what a line up!

Adorned Spaces was open from Wednesday afternoon until Friday night, when a closing function was held. The location was a ballroom at the conference venue, which might sound strange but was perfectly situated to be easily accessed during the break times throughout the conference and was large enough to house the 20! exhibitors. It was a really diverse showing of student, emerging and established makers and I was proud to be representing work from the makers of my Australian studio, Katie Stormonth, Clare Poppi, Nellie Peoples and myself. The work in the SUNY New Paltz student display next to ours was so impressive it had me captivated during all the moments I wasn't talking to the encouraging exhibition viewers. Big thanks to Lindsay Mis and Kelly Jean Conroy for jurying AND coordinating the event. I've put some photos from Adorned Spaces at the end of this post.   

The conference ended Saturday evening with a trunk show, which was a frenzy of sales but for me was a great way to see the work of a huge group of conference attendees that I had never seen before. A short while after the trunk show the conference was officially closed with Exhibition in Motion (a catwalk parade of large scale wearables) and an after party. Art jewellery is so often only experienced under glass or on a screen so it was nice to finish the week in a room full of peers celebrating work on real bodies. I returned home to Alabama equal parts exhausted and energised and totally looking forward to the 2018 Conference in Portland OR.

Wow, that was a big post. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!