Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Musings about the importance of art and art education

2009 NYSATA 'Why Art?' Convention

♠ Posted by ArtMuse at 7:14 AM
After having driven a total of 12 hours for my trek up to Rochester, NY to attend the NYSATA conference that was held at the Regency Hyatt, I was left feeling disappointed, and not to mention broke. The Hyatt charged a special conference room rate of $125 a night, which is probably half of what they normally charge for room rate, plus, the $17 dollars extra a night in room tax. The ticket fee for the conference was $125 dollars, which was the pre-registration fee. Pretty steep considering the National Conference ticket fee in Minnesota later this year is only $130 and even less if you your a member. As if that wasn't bad enough, I had to pay $26 dollars in parking fees, $50 to renew my membership at NYSATA, so I could get the reduced $125 dollar ticket price. and then meals, and tips (for the valet, and room maid, etc.), and gas money. The conferece was a total of three days long and on Sunday at around 4o'clock, before the last of the workshops even ended, vendors and stands were all but packed up. By 5 on Sunday the small convention taking up the second floor of the Hyatt looked like a veritable art ghost town.

Overall I attended about 12 workshops, a mix of hands-on, theory based, and supply company sponsered, they were all pretty interesting. But not 12 hours worth of driving interesting. Amidst the workshops my favorites were the recycled books one, where we learned some simple folds on used books to create sculptural pieces. The Massapequa school distrcits (my alma mater) 'Books of Hope Program' where students make books to send to children in need in Uganda. A paper making workshop, where we learned how to paint, sculpt, and mold with paper pulp. And lastly, a workshop that included a yearlong of high school curriculum. Which incidentally, the presenter ran out of cd's to distribute and we had to put our addresses on a peice of paper so he could mail it to us. I'll see if I actually get anything.

The keynote speaker, Alice Aycock, was pretty good also, her work was outstanding. She is an older woman, with a warm speaking voice, and her work consists of these monumental almost, installation like sculptures that explore the ideas of vortex's, spinning planets, (and spinning rides), tunnels, cave, observatories, and the paradoxical idea that we create things very formulaically and scientifically, only to use them to explore the unconcious, ethereal, and virtually unexplainable. I strongly reccomend checking her work out.

However a few good highlights, I had some issues with the conference as well. Firstly, many of the conference rooms were too small. At almost every workshop we were crammed in, elbow to elbow, with standing room only left over, and many times, even that was filled to capacity. Because of this, most of the time the presenters didn't have enough supplies, even handouts had to be rationed. which was extremely irritating. Nothing is more frustrating the taking the time and spending the money for professional development only to find that when you attend a workshop you have to either A: watch someone else make the project, B: fight it out over the supplies so you get your own, C: even if you get supplies wait, and wait...and wait, till someone else is done with the tools so you can make the project, or D: leave the workshop. Grrrr

Another issue was that the conference was small. I didn't think it was going to be huge, but I expected it to be at least twice the size it was. The floor it was on at the hotel was tiny, so in additoin to the rooms being small, the conference itself felt squisehd together. There were only about 6 districts from Long Island who exhibited their student work. Hicksville where I student taught, having the largest and most impressive stretch of work. Yay Hicksville! and the members exhibit was housed in a small room and with ALL the art teachers who were there, which was a miniscule, dissapointing amount, there were only about 15 peices showing. Four of which were again, from Hicksville. Considering the fact that there are over 60 districts on Long Island alone, each with it's own art department. There was an incredibly underwhelming amount of districts represented at the conference.

I'd definately go to another conference, but unless its within a reasonable (2 hour or less) driving radias, I'm sad to say, it just isn't worth it.


I'm retired now, but I used to go to our state conferences...and I also attended several national conferences.

I hope you filled out the evaluation form and told them how you feel. This is only way they'll make changes. I, too, have been to conferences when I felt like both my time and money were wasted...and they need to know it.