Wednesday, April 13, 2016


It's been nearly a month since the 2016 NAEA Convention and I'm just getting around to blogging about it. After some extra appointments upon returning home, tons of painting for my graduate course, and jumping right into major prom planning, busy is an understatement. So, I want to try to give an overview of my experience and maybe go into details on some of the workshops later.

As soon as I found out that #NAEA16 would be in Chicago, I texted a couple friends from college and asked if they wanted to go. As it got closer, two of us made definite plans. Our little part expanded to include another friend and classmate from Emporia State and another art teacher we'd met at a KAEA conference. Two of us flew in together on a very bumpy flight and the other two met us at the airport. 
 We took our very first Uber ride to our hotel and after getting settled in, decided to walk around a bit. We loved this window displaying student fashion design. The Chicago Architecture Foundation's Shop was super cool. I could definitely have spent a lot of money in there but since I was trying to do NAEA on a budget, I resisted the urge.
 The next morning, we had a beautiful view of the sunrise over Lake Michigan from the executive suite at breakfast.
 We got to the convention center early, which was good since we decided to buy tickets to the opening night party and the line quickly grew very long with on-site registrations. I was pretty excited to get all my badge stickers. Since they didn't have a K-12 sticker, mine was pretty long!
 Dr. Jean Houston was the opening speaker and I loved listening to her. I thought she was very engaging and inspiring. (You can find her on Twitter)
 And then, the exhibit space. CRAZY! Lots of good information, lots of samples, TONS of people. They said there were 5100 attendees, and it felt like we were all there at the same time. We had address labels printed to put on slips for drawings but next time we'll add our email addresses.
Got a free Elmer's t-shirt for posting a selfie on their Facebook page. I don't take a ton of selfies but I figured I would for a shirt. :)
 Here is the Kansas flag in the Youth Art Month museum.
 We went back to the hotel at the end of the day for food and the opening night party. They had her d'oeuvres each night in the executive lounge and one of the Kansas members changed the label for the sweet potato gnocchi to "Vincent Yam-Gogh Gnocchi" in honor of our Youth Art Month mascot. That made me smile.
 The opening night party was pretty fun. They had boxes and art supplies set out to make sort of a stacking exquisite corpse game. There was also a photo booth with lots of St.Patrick's Day props and we were treated to live music and Irish dancing.
 Each morning we took a shuttle from the hotel to the convention center. It was very convenient.
 We left at lunch time on the 2nd day of conferences to go to the Chicago Art Institute. All conference attendees got free admission to the museum as well as the Van Gogh's Bedrooms exhibit. There was quite a long line to get in, but totally worth it. At least it wasn't rainy!
 The Van Gogh exhibit was great. I never thought a painting of boots would bring tears to my eyes.
 I was pretty pumped to see American Gothic by my good friend Grant Wood in person.
 The Art Institute has just an amazing collection. We only saw a fraction of it. Someday I'll have to go  back to Chicago and have a whole day dedicated to the museum.
 I also got to do some research for a lesson on viewing artwork in person v. through technology when I was there. The thing that totally blew my mind is that there is a border of red and blue dots around the edges of Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte. I never knew!
 Friday evening there was an improv show put on for conference attendees back at the convention center. Our shuttle driver took a little detour so we were late, but it was still entertaining.
 Saturday morning was the portion of the convention I was most excited about. There were several sessions on TAB offered that morning. I was practically giddy on the way in and kept geeking out pointing to art teachers I recognized from online TAB communities, even though I got kind of nervous and didn't actually talk to many of them.
 The convention center was ginormous. In addition to all the art teachers, they were also hosting a Comic Con. I was excited to see a really good 10th Doctor impersonator.
 Another exciting thing from the convention is that I got to meet Marcia of Art is Basic in person! After being blogging friends for years, that was pretty cool. We also met Anna and Elsa and had to take a picture to send to our kids at home.
 William "Bill" Strickland was the last general session speaker and he was also very inspiring. Some take aways from his talk are "environment drives behavior" and "beautiful environments create beautiful people, prisons create prisoners". He described building arts and technology schools in inner cities. You should seriously look him up. You won't regret it.
After our last session on Saturday, the Kansas members who were still in Chicago made plans to eat some pizza. The restaurant was super busy so we ended up waiting for our pizza and taking it back to the hotel where we hung out and ate in the executive lounge.

A lot of people describe coming away from NAEA being totally inspired and refreshed. It wasn't quite like that for me. Was I inspired? Absolutely. But more than anything, it made me see where I want to go and how far away from that I still am. I knew this year would be a transitional year in my new school, and I am just anxious to plan how next year will be different.

Ok, so here's a bit of a side story about one of the most memorable parts of the trip- the ride to the airport. Three of us ordered an Uber (the other had an earlier flight) and piled in to an SUV with our really nice driver. I was in the front passenger seat and my other friends, one of them pregnant, were in the back. We were about a mile from our hotel when another driver ran a red light and we t-boned them. Now, I'm not one to curse, but apparently I did when I realized we were going to hit the other vehicle. It all happened very fast. It took us a minute or two to make sure everyone in our vehicle was ok. The friends in the back were covered in coffee (thankfully not too hot), a bag that had been at my friend Tranda's feet was on my lap, and my glasses were at my feet. Our driver was the first to recover a bit and realize we should check on the other driver, who we saw was passed out. Our driver ran back to his vehicle to call for help while I was still standing there trying to remember how to use my phone. I had been trying to check in to our flight on my phone before the accident and seriously couldn't remember how to get to the phone part of my phone.
Thankfully, we were about half a block from a fire station so they were on the scene so quickly. The other driver went to the hospital, but since he had woken up, I'm assuming he was ok. My pregnant friend, Courtney, was going to get checked out but decided to do that with her doctor at home as a precaution. Tranda seemed to be fine other than having a mark from the seatbelt. As soon as we were stopped I realized I'd hit my leg just under my knee on the dash but since I was walking fine, I just wanted to catch our flight and get home. Our Uber driver was amazing. He was very attentive and caring and even paid for our next Uber ride to get us to the airport. Somehow we made it through security and to our flights on time.
By the time we got back to Kansas City, I was getting more uncomfortable and had developed a nice bump on my leg. I called to get a substitute for the next day as I was getting stiff and knew it would be worse. I'm so glad my mom told me to go to the chiropractor because I had a "classic case of whiplash". I got to see the x-rays and they were very interesting as I thought it was just sore muscles and had no clue how messed up my vertebrae were. I'm finally almost done with the chiropractor and so, so thankful that nobody was seriously hurt.


  1. Woah! That must have been incredibly frightening! I've still never taken an Uber ride.

    I was late to the opening night party, even though I had a ticket. Our dinner ran long, and then I had to go to an Irish pub (on St.Patty's Day; it was a zoo) to retrieve my camera that I had lost there the night before. By the time I got to the party, I'd sadly missed the box art activity and the step dancers too, and also some of the people I wanted to see. :( But I was glad at least my camera had been found and I'd been able to retrieve it!

    It was cool getting to meet you, if only for a moment passing in opposite directions in the convention center.

    One question: what is this Executive Suite you keep referring to? How did that come about? And another question: will we see you again next year in NYC? Maybe we could actually talk more than a passing hello!

  2. I'm so glad you found your camera! That must have been a huge relief. I won't be at NAEA next year. I think the expense will be an "every once in a while" kinda thing for me.

    We had access to the executive suite because of how our room was booked. You could get breakfast and hors d'oeuvres. They had tables and comfy chairs.

  3. Wow, I saw your pics on facebook of the crash but I didn't realize that the other driver passed out. Yikes! That's crazy. I had a car crash once too and experienced that weird day-after whiplash feeling. I had a great time chatting with you!! I wish I could go every year to the conference too.

  4. Wow, I saw your pics on facebook of the crash but I didn't realize that the other driver passed out. Yikes! That's crazy. I had a car crash once too and experienced that weird day-after whiplash feeling. I had a great time chatting with you!! I wish I could go every year to the conference too.