The annual SNAG Conference was in Boston last week. As I write this on the plane ride home I am bursting with a heart full of community, a brain full of ideas and a belly full of good New England seafood. On this trip, I fell in love with Boston and I deepened my love for SNAG.
This was my third conference and, for those of you who have never attended, here is the run down. The event primarily consists of lectures with highly visual slide presentations. Speakers narrate their artistic journeys, share innovative design techniques and relate how their work connects them to colleagues, clients and their communities. The format is very academic which can be disarming for those of us more accustomed to commercial industry events. But this is the beauty of SNAG. It is all about passion. Heart. Soul. Speakers and organizers have a genuine love for design, craftsmanship and materials. The atmosphere is electric with inspiration.
The main stage sessions are accompanied by a variety of receptions and events. Highlights include nearby gallery and museum exhibitions featuring local jewelry makers and historic collections as well as my personal favorite, the conference trunk show sale.
Attendees primarily consist of professional makers and metals educators from universities or art centers. But, this core group is peppered with an interesting mix of gallery owners, students, museum curators, collectors and suppliers. With such a diverse constituency one would expect a fragmented audience of cliques and egos. But, to the contrary, I have found SNAG to be one of the most welcoming and encouraging groups I have ever encountered.
An overwhelming sense of camaraderie embraces this annual pilgrimage of artists who leave the solitude of their studios to attend what was repeatedly called a “family reunion.” It is a diverse place where 20 year old students can sit next to treasured masters like Mary Lee Hu and David Huang and chat about a shared love for making. The most avant-garde artists swap tales from the studio with jewelers making production lines. And tenured professors exchange tool tips with bench jewelers.
I cannot emphasize enough what a valuable organization SNAG is. The group is dedicated to elevating the field with advocacy for metalsmiths and jewelers of every media and aesthetic. It will not guarantee your professional success, only you can make your career happen. But it provides invaluable opportunities for learning, business development, networking, inspiration and above all, community.
Halstead is proud to sponsor SNAG and be a part of that community. We believe in the spirit of the organization and the priceless function it serves. If you love metal, if you feel the magic of transformation when you form, forge or solder, and if you need to create beautiful objects with your own hands then this is your tribe. These are your people. Be a part of it and join SNAG today.
Plan now for the SNAG NEXT conference in Asheville, NC May 19-21, 2016.