As a newbie, it was exciting, mind-boggling, and overwhelming to see all of the sights, plan for the trip, witness the massive amount of classes, the presentations, and the hundreds of vendors to choose from and go see. I knew from what I'd read about the National Art Educators Association conference, that it was big, but to actually be there and see it in person is completely different. It was ginormous, gigantic, massive, and holy heck titanic! To be honest, about a week prior, I was getting nervous about going to the big event, and being by myself for the most part.
Luckily, I'd already made a few online connections with fellow art teachers from across the country, who were planning on attending. Thanks to a friendly, experienced, talented, and wise-lady by the name of Phyllis who started a meet-and-greet chat group, I was able to plan some meals, and meetings with some amazing art teachers. It really helped me feel welcomed to the event, just by the new friendships I'd made that weekend. Just talking to the various ladies over a meal, helped me feel much more comfortable with all of the surroundings and big event.
So, I gulped my hesitation away, and asked the chat group if anyone who was going to the dance, could help me into my corset at the hotel. Three different people said yes and offered to make arrangements to meet to get dressed together. It was more than I could have expected by all of the warm welcomes and offers of assistance. I had help from both Jenn and Melissa to get ready for the dance party, and we all had fun walking down to the event in our own small posse in Steampunk style! We found that not very many had realized that there was a theme, so there were only about 25ish people dressed-up for the night in the theme. This became fun in a different way, we got to chat about our costumes to many who asked, and one of the NAEA photographers took our photos - they were posted and shared on the NAEA 2018 for everyone to see!
I thought that the opening-night dance party was pretty huge, and exciting to see so many art geeks such as myself, dancing, socializing, and even some Artist booths to check out some Art Teachers Art work that was for sale! There was a moment, while dancing, that I thought this was the pinnacle of being an art geek. It was so full of art geeks that the energy was rising to the highest point on Mount Everest. I loved it!
When I first entered the gigantic vendors hall, I felt like I was transported into a world of artists and teachers, who all loved to do art as much, if not more so, than me. I had heard about how much there can be, so I prepared and brought along a small rolling bag to carry my essentials such as water, book, pamphlet, pencils, purse, coat, and plenty of room for all the free swag! This one tip that I got from another art teacher was the best! The first vendor I saw was one of mt favorites - Faber-Castell products. I made a B-line straight to their booth, tried all sorts of materials, and got a swag bag. I was in artist heaven. Every booth that I walked to, had some kind of free workshop/demo, and swag. Of course, they had items for sale, and on the 1st day, I chose to just browse and try things, while I decided what I wanted most to bring home. Not only did I learn about so many new products/materials, but I got to meet new people in the business, share fun experiences in the demos, and make art to take home! Oh, and I went there every day to see more. As it turned-out, I saw plenty of new things everyday, and got more and more swag. It was so awesome!
Looking back and on my own reflection, I know that I would totally do this again. Maybe even push myself to go teach a workshop, or give a free presentation to share some of my experiences in art. I'm also looking forward to meeting even more art teachers and artists, being a tourist at another city, and feeling that growth mind-set. One where anything is possible, and the weeds of our minds that get tangled in the worlds affairs, and stresses that build in our daily lives, can be opened up to learn, and see new things with others who have similar passions. NAEA opened my eyes. Thank you for this. I'm completely grateful to the event, my partner Jeffrey for helping me go, my friend Starry for having me as a guest in her home, the new art teacher friends, and all the people who make this event happen.