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International Polymer Clay Association Presents: Synergy 3


Polymer clay was touted, wooed, manipulated, transformed, and ever-present in Atlanta, Georgia, this spring. Seth Lee Savarick, a featured artist in Polymer Clay Master Class, presented and attended seminars at the IPCA’s third annual Synergy conference, and shares a few highlights from his perspective.

I personally came away from Synergy 3 feeling that more artists than ever are creating work at a professional level–and that polymer artists are truly an international bunch. Throughout the event, a gallery showcased a high level of craftsmanship as well as an elevation of concept, content, and design in polymer work.

Harriet Estel Berman gave a presentation titled The GOOD, The BAD, and the UGLY in the Age of the Internet, which readers can also find on her site. This is a must-listen (or must-read) for every working artist, arts educator, and art enthusiast because it explores so many issues that artists and educators deal with in today’s tech driven world. Harriet outlined the positive attributes of digital technology, what we are losing to it, and what is just down right ugly about it. I really liked her concept of The Age of “Like,” which in her mind is what Facebook has reduced discussion and critique to. She talked about the need for in-depth critique in order to help artists grow. I came away from the lecture with a new understanding that the polymer community is struggling with the same things as other art mediums, and that we have really become part of the bigger fine craft and art world.

One particularly important takeaway I got from the “Ugly” section was that many of the things that we see today (invented sources, invented quotes and outright plagiarism) are things that have been going on forever, even at the highest levels. Today, however, we have tools such as search engines that can uncover them very quickly. This means that artists and critics need to be at the top of our game. A big topic of lively discussion was the need for real, honest art critiques. I think that many in the polymer community are ready for this debate and that you will be seeing more about it in the future.

Another “issue” that seemed to arise was the current gender gap in polymer. Although not a formal discussion, data from both Judy Belcher and Cynthia Tinapple’s presentation “Where do We Want to Go?” and Anke Humpert’s presentation “Trends in the European Polymer Clay Scene” point to an extremely large gender gap; a few of us have started to ask, Why?

So many of us reminisced, again, about how the National Polymer Clay Guild (now the IPCA) came to be. Kathleen Dustin, Lindly Haunani, and Nan Roche talked about the very early days of polymer and how they started the NPCG. It was nice to look back and to also realize just how far polymer has come. This year’s Synergy reflected the international state of polymer, with artists from outside the United States contributing a great deal to the movement.

-Seth Savarick

For more on contemporary polymer, check out Polymer Clay Master Class, by Judy Belcher and Tammy Honaman.



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