I have been trying to decompress for about 5 days now, and I think I am about ready to write down the experience I had at this year’s NAEA 2016 Conference in Chicago. I spent 4 days of my spring break in Chi-Town, reconnecting with old friends, meeting new friends, and of course, learning about my chosen profession.
This year’s experience can not compare to last year’s in NOLA. It wasn’t better; it wasn’t worse; it was different. First of all, let’s talk Chi-Town. It was cold. It wasn’t Canada cold, but I did have to pack for 40 degree weather. Not fun. I did however pack a fun hat!
Chicago is a much bigger city than New Orleans. It is more spread out, which made visiting the city a bit harder. So, in that respect, I didn’t get to experience that Chicago flavor the way I did in New Orleans. And, speaking of being spread out, the convention center in Chicago is ‘Uge…H-U-G-E! It has 4 levels, and 2 sides. So, sometimes getting from one session to the next was a race. Add into the mix about a thousand C2E2 goers…and it was game on. (Pun intended.) They did provide some nice cosplay costumes to look at though.
One of the best parts of the trip, besides what I learned, which I will talk about in my NAEA 2016: Chi-Town (part 2: the sessions) post, was getting to see my friends. My tribe. It has been a long 8 months since I last saw my people in Boston. I got to hang out with my favorite TABbers…Liz, Andy, Hillary, and of course, Ian. I also got to see some of my friends/mentors…Julie, Diane, Clyde, and Nan.
We spent 3 days catching up, talking TAB, making new memories, learning new things, walking all over the McCormick, and creating our newest hashtag #artteachersinbars. The first night, Andy and I found this fabulous dive bar near where we were staying. He told me I had to bring my sketchbook, which I reluctantly did. And of course, it was all down hill from there. Every night we went out and wound up at a bar, the sketchbooks came out. We even got Clyde in the game.
On Friday night, the TAB powers that be set up a dinner get together for us. Our gracious hosts provided some yummy pizza and procured an room for us to gather and be merry in. In pure Jean fashion, I went around and got selfies “with” everyone. It was a fabulous time had by all.
I was also lucky enough to visit the Art Institute of Chicago one evening. So glad that my registration at the conference allowed me to experience the museum free of charge. I saw some amazing pieces. I thought the museum should be it’s own post because I have a ton of pictures, and well, this post is starting to get a little lengthy.
I was sad when I had to say good-bye to two of my clan on Saturday afternoon, but luckily Ian was there to drag me around to sessions I hadn’t even considered…and it turned out to be a good thing. And, I made a new friend, Kay. It turned out we had a lot more in common than just being art teachers who TAB. When Sunday rolled around, it was time to take the long blue line train ride back to O’Hare. My head was spinning, so I just sat and looked out as the city turned into the suburbs and finally into an airport.
I am still trying to reflect on what I took away from the many sessions I attended, so give me a couple of more days before I get to that.
Thanks Chicago for a fabulous work-cation. Thanks NAEA for a great conference, let’s do it again next year in NYC…although I do have a few suggestions for an even better experience. 😉