Kelsey Juszczak, a senior Professional Writing major, is currently completing her 120-hour internship with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts Conference, NCECA, which took place between March 14th and 17th. This conference is a well-known, worldwide conference where artists can showcase their sculptures and mosaics in Pittsburgh. This year, NCECA had over 5,000 attendees for its fifty-second annual celebration. The conference had an “Emerging Artists” event with upcoming artists like Sara Parent-Ramos, Andrew Lea Stansbury, and Janet Macpherson. There were demonstrations from established artists, clay workshops, a demo of a 3D clay printing machine (called 3D Potter), and bus tours to all the different galleries in Pittsburgh that were displaying NCECA artists’ works for sale.
Juszczak considers this to be “a nontraditional internship” for which she was able to manage NCECA’s social media and blog accounts while taking her final two courses on campus. After learning the background and history of the conference, Juszczak was able to attend board meetings and meet with a few artists! Her first blog, “Unity Shards”: A Collaborative Mosaic, highlighted the work of Laura Jean McLaughlin, the artist responsible for the Project Shards—a call to action from McLaughlin to other artists in Pittsburgh and around the world, asking for shards of clay, glass, and other pieces from their works, with dropboxes all over the area. At the conference, McLaughlin used these shards to create a mural for the Alphabet Garden at City of Asylum on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Her vision was to create not only tangible art with the final piece, but to create a social form of art through the collaborative experience of making the mural. Juszczak shared, “The project itself ended up being everything I think Laura envisioned and more. People were drawn to the table by curiosity to see what we were doing, thinking it was another demonstration, but were excited to find out it was an interactive project. We ended up filling thirteen cement boards with another three almost done, which Laura will complete before finally installing each one onto the wall. It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful project.” (Check out her blogs at http://blog.nceca.net/unity-shards-a-collaborative-mosaic-mural & http://blog.nceca.net/the-artist-behind-unity-shards-laura-jean-mclaughlin!)
Professor Patrick McGinty, Juszczak’s internship advisor, was excited to set up this internship opportunity because “it demonstrates that our students not only possess the skills needed in the modern workplace but that the modern workplace is eagerly awaiting contributions from SRU students. The NCECA Conference is a huge event, and Kelsey’s work demonstrates that she possesses both the writing and critical thinking skills to engage artists, organizers, educators, volunteers, and the general public.”