Get Creative with a Creative Getaway

Late February/early March is when we Minnesotans all go a little cuckoo. We've had enough shoveling and shivering, and at some point, there just aren't enough television channels or card games to play before we all want to strangle each other as we tremor from the lack of Vitamin D. So, to make sure we all don't end up in the slammer, we go on vacation. Yes, we're the ones wearing the T-shirts and flip-flops in your sunny town, even if it's only 45 degrees.

I had my winter getaway last week in Yuma, Arizona. It was there that I not only got to get out of the cold, but also have a creative boost at the Yuma Arts Symposium. A couple friends of mine have been attending the symposium for over twenty years, telling me I'd love it, and this was the year I finally signed on. I'm so glad I did! The symposium involved lectures by printmakers, jewelers, sculptors, and painters during the day. The afternoons involved creative swaps, fun competitions, and even a dance!

Have you ever attended a creative conference? Here's what you might expect:

Bob Ebendorf and his students swap it up.

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Creative Swaps

At most creative conferences, whether it's a beading one like BeadFest or a jeweler's one like SNAG, there are often informal get-togethers where people show and tell or even swap their wares. It's at these events that you get the opportunity to see what other folks have made, are thinking about, and are working on. One of the highlights at the Yuma Symposium was the pin swap, where artists from all sorts of disciplines made little brooches to share. The little collection of pins I ended up walking away with includes everything from formal (a gem-encrusted hand-forged silver wire brooch) to simple (a tangle of seed beads on a pin back) to more conceptual pieces (a length of cash register paper with a safety pin). It was a great way to meet other artists, find out about what they do, and be inspired. During this particular swap I realized what a unique niche beadworking is, as I swapped little bits of beadwork as pins. Non-beaders were amazed, wondering how it was done. What a great opening for creative conversation!

Harold Balazs visits with attendees.


Lectures and Classes

While in Yuma I attended lectures from several artists. Listening to how they create and how they got to where they are now really inspired me. It was definitely the highlight of my trip. Hearing them made me want to go home and create something beautiful with my beads. (In fact, I've been doing that all week long since I've been back!) I was particularly inspired by Harold Balazs, an artist who has been doing drawings, small sculptures, and huge public installations since the 1950s. What an inspiration to see someone who has spent a lifetime dedicated to making art. He just sparkled behind the podium, saying, "You know what? Not knowing is so much more exciting than knowing!" So true, Harold, so true.


The Saw, File, Solder competition in Yuma.



The lectures and classes at conferences like the one in Yuma are the meat of a creative getaway, but I've also found that it's the after-hours stuff that is the gravy. In Yuma, there's a "Saw, File, Solder" relay, where teams compete to see how fast they can make a simple copper ring (the winner clocked in at around 3 minutes, by the way!). You'll find the gravy at other conferences like this at the dining halls, picnic tables, vendor tables, and parties that inevitably are part of every creative conference I've ever been to. It's at these places that I've made so many lovely creative contacts, but where I've also made life-long friends.

Does my visit to Yuma inspire you to have your own artistic getaway? A subscription to Fiberarts magazine is a lot like my getaway to Yuma, where year-round you'll encounter other top artists like Harold and Bob and learn about what they're thinking and working on. Act now and get the latest issue, where there's a great listing of creative retreats, classes, and symposiums going on in 2011. You'll be on your next creative getaway before you know it!

Happy beading-

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