(Above: Me with the big X on the stage of the Midland's Technical College's Harbison Theater. Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)
For the past few months I knew Monday, January 19th would eventually come. For the past few weeks I really, really, really knew the days were ticking down! Why? Well, every day since late December, I spent at least an hour practicing my TEDxColumbiaSC presentation, trying to memorize my own words, struggling to remember the transitions from paragraph to paragraph, and working with Steve who would be advancing my 21 images for me. Was I nervous? You bet! People who know me well were surprised. I've never been even slightly nervous in front of a crowd. This was different. I've NEVER had to memorize ANYTHING. I'm perfectly happy in an "improv" situation. Talking about my work while showing pictures in a pre-arranged order isn't an issue either ... but ... sitting on that stage, facing video cameras and a standing-room-only crowd while hand stitching wrapped wooden spools and reciting my lines ... SCARY!
(Above: VIP Reception at SOCO.)
There was a VIP Reception for TEDxColumbiaSC presenters, sponsors, and those who bought an "elite ticket" which included several "perks". I had a chance to chat with several other speakers. We were all a little nervous!
(Above: Steve and me at the VIP reception.)
None the less, it was a great evening. We went home and continued rehearsing!
(Above: The TEDxColumbiaSC presenters ... all very happy ... on the stage after everyone was done speaking!)
Three days later ... it would be all smiles! Everyone did a great job. The audience was fantastic, responsive, and happy to applaud wildly. There aren't words to describe the energy! Being part of this event and numbered among these fine people is undoubtedly one of my proudest moments.
TEDx events happen globally. They were created in the spirit of the international TED's mission ... "ideas worth spreading." (If any reader hears about such an event in their area, PLEASE GO! If seeking inspiration and/or positive energy ... this is it!) From the TED website:
TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we're building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world's most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.
But ... I'd like to share a few more moments from Monday ... like the picture above. This is the set design shop for the theater. I put my purse down beside the miter saw which looks a lot like the one in my framing shop. Volunteers had set up tables with goody-bags and a counter with snacks and beverages.
I tried to spend some time taking photos but this didn't calm my nerves. (Yes, we had entertainment between several speakers ... including a contemporary bass player and two accomplished poets!) I found a quiet place and continued rehearsing.
Other speakers played on their telephones ... in fidgety sorts of ways. There was a lot of pacing. Everyone seemed to be going over their lines ... lips silently moving ... shuffling scripts ... and one lady attempted to use a ball-point pen to write a few words on her palm. That actually broke the tension! Everyone laughed! (She washed it all off! LOL!) I knew I wasn't alone with my feelings!
Whenever I started to feel calm, I seemed to walk by the entrance to the stage. Scary! After looking at the bright lights and being fitted with a wireless mic, I returned to my quiet place to rehearse. Over and over again ... my lines in my head.
What was my presentation about? Precious! As a visual artist working with found objects, I am acutely aware that the old family photos, buttons, clock gears, crocheted doilies and vintage linens, and other objects I use were once someone else's precious possessions. My presentation urged people to USE their precious things and MAKE A PLAN for the future of their precious things.
During the lunch break ... I actually walked out and faced the empty seats!
One of the official photographers volunteered to snap the photo above! I was the second presentation after lunch! This meant, I got to sit in the audience for the final group.
The last group of speakers included the only other visual artist, my friend Michaela Pilar Brown. She talked about the "freedom to fail", an important topic for artists when facing new creative directions or receiving rejection notices. Yet, on this day, no one failed!
After the program ended, all the presenters were invited up on stage. Michaela and I took that opportunity to pose with Cindi Boiter, the editor of Jasper Magazine ... the sponsor of our "next big thing". Michaela and I both have work in the upcoming Art from the Ashes exhibition at the Tapps Art Center! We install on Sunday!
UPDATE: My friend Doni Jordan was in the audience and took this photo! Thanks, Doni! Plus, I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts ... which really was an important part of my TEDxColumbia presentation!