Spending time with people who share a passion is a confirming, and rejuvenating experience. The SAQA/SDA conference had speakers who were interesting and even thought provoking at times. But the time spent at meals, over coffee or drinks, or late at night in hotel rooms with other artists, is the reason to attend a conference.
It's an opportunity to learn from others. To talk about our struggles as artists. To build a network of friends who know who you are, and what you do. It's a chance to be in a room with over 200 people who speak your language, and hear your voice.
It's also an opportunity to have free flowing conversations that sometimes lead to new ideas, invigorate the desire to succeed, and laugh out loud - a lot! It is a freeing environment, because for the most part, artists at the SAQA/SDA conference are happy to meet a new person, and know they may find a new friend/mentor/student. Or just someone to say hello to at the next conference. We put names to faces, and to their work.
Most of us are middle aged or older, dress comfortably, and like Clark Kent, are mild mannered women (in public). We don't look like we make fantastic pieces of art. It's wonderful to look around a room and see people who you know love color, line, shapes and textiles, just like you.
Being part of this community event has many advantages. The results are enhanced networking, learning, laughing, understanding, inspiration, perspective and probably many others I can't think of right now. Next year the SAQA conference is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I'm already looking forward to it!