Attending My First Icarus Session
Last Wednesday (May 15th), I attended my first Icarus Session. An Icarus Session is basically an artists meet-up, where some of the attending artists give two minute talks and then everyone listens to a guest lecturer. Two Minute Talks, also called Flash Talks, are a popular presentation format for business professionals looking to make deadly hour-long Powerpoint sessions more fun. By giving a number of different people a chance to speak, more content can be covered, and by limiting the talks with a timer, presenters are forced to cut out the excess flow charts to get right to the meat of their message.Icarus Sessions, in particular, are a national meet-up movement started by Seth Godin, inspirational author and creator of the website squidoo.com (read more about the sessions here http://www.squidoo.com/IcarusSession).
The Rochester, New York group is free, meets monthly, and chooses its speaker order through the names in a hat method. If you are in the area and interested in attending, the Rochester group meats at the Hanlon-Fiske Studios (34 Elton St.). Upcoming meeting dates and times are announced on the Rochester chapter's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Icarus-Sessions-Rochester-NY/496486027055049.
Since this was my first meeting, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I brought a small painting and planned to say a few words about it extemporaneously if/when my name came up. I also came with a couple friends who have been before so that I would feel more secure. I really shouldn't have worried though. The group was very welcoming -- they were not strict about starting on time or about sticking to exactly 120 seconds. The relaxed time schedule and snacks and beverages brought by attendees meant that there was ample time to get to know people and to realize that the people there were warm and not judgmental of one another. Artists of all ages and representing a number of different mediums were there. There were about six or seven of us that chose to talk, and the Hanlon-Fiske's provided an amazing space for us to meet in as well as a high quality projector and Internet connection. I was the only presenter to bring in an actual physical artwork. Everyone else relied on photographs of their work stored online or on Flash drives. For my talk, I focused on how my process has changed since having a baby. I have an 8 month old daughter and paint now on weekends while my husband watches her. This provides about 3 hours total of painting time vs. my old methods of painting where I would work on the same piece over a series of days or weeks and leave my mess out while I was in process. This has changed both my subject matter and my style -- I'm still in the process of learning what lessons I will eventually derive from this change, but the group was very interested in discussing it with me and in saying they look forward to seeing what I do in the future. Our guest speaker was Erich Lehman, owner of the 1975 gallery (https://www.facebook.com/1975ish) and also, incidentally, a day-job employee of RIT, like myself. Eric spoke about his obsession with collecting toys, t-shirts, and artwork and about how that his obsession evolved over time from what he called a "completionist" urge into a curatorial urge. Lehman collects and curates artwork that runs towards graphic design, urban, and pop -- very different from what I do -- but the pieces he showed us from his gallery are well-executed and appealing. I look forward to seeing what 1975 gets up to in the future and to returning to a future Icarus Session.