When we ask people what they make, the object or activity they come up with is the least interesting part. What we really what to know is why and how and when and where they make things. Do they create with unrelenting drive or through curious dabbling? What does it feel like, smell like, sound like to make what they make? What’s the point? What’s the draw?
The ten presenters who shared their stories at #WhatIMake: The Conference on April 16, 2016 exemplified these answers. None of them stopped at “I make _____.” Instead, they opened up a small window into their souls and shared their inspirations, expertise, and passions along with their struggles, doubts, and failures. They painted an authentic picture of what it means to make something, the full roller coaster ride.
Some of our speakers focused on their technique and style: Emily Garfield described the internal thought processes held inside her imaginary maps, Rhonda Fazio told us about the history of textile production and how she creates without fossil fuels, Wayne Strattman displayed his endless iterations of light sculptures formulated of years of research, and Marika McCoola challenged us to combine our words with our images and help reintroduce or at least recognize the role that visual communication plays in our lives.
Others described why they make: Nathan Chow used juggling as a metaphor for achieving his goals in transforming his life, Timmy Riordan described how he pushes past his inhibitions and creates endless amounts of songs, Fadayz told the story of how dancing gave him a new way of interacting with the world, and Ben Holmes honored his co-founders at Aeronaut Brewery by sharing how and why they got started.
Camille DeAngelis closed out the morning talks by sharing her story as a writer, how it has challenged her on both personal and professional levels. By learning how to communicate with ourselves through writing, she explained, we are better equipped to understand and engage with the world.
In the workshops at Artisan’s Asylum, people tried things for the first time, responding to the vulnerability of the speakers by taking their own creative risks. They danced and wrote and drew and talked. They got to experience the very things they had heard about all morning, creating a direct connection between the inspirational talks and their own lives.
Just as important as the formal talks and workshops were the conversations they inspired during the breaks, over lunch, and later at the bar. The speakers, attendees, volunteers, and organizers shared their stories with each other. What they made, what they’ve tried to make but hasn’t quite worked yet, what they want to make but haven’t done yet. And this, this was the real power of the event and is the purpose of asking people what they make.
When you ask people what they make, they tell you what they care about. They share a little bit of who they are and how they got there, and in doing so they build the connections that form the core of all communities. In this case, specifically the Hearth Community.
We left Aeronaut Brewery on Saturday glowing with our new connections and simmering with our new ideas and skills. The most asked questions by the end of the day was, what is Miranda’s Hearth doing next? Well, folks, next year we do it again and we do it better. And in the meantime we make things, we meet people, we share our stories, and in doing so we build this creative community of ours piece by piece.
See photos from the event on our Facebook Page!
Take our survey to let us know how you thought the conference went and how we can make it better for next year.
Join us for the What I Make: How I Made It Gallery Reception at Aeronaut Brewery on April 19!
Come to our weekly Hearth Events to get to know the community even better.