Monday, August 1, 2016

Why Attend a NIADA Conference as a Visiting Artist

 Luella Mossom and her Gallery piece

I have been inspired by NIADA artists since I have been creating dolls.  I never realized that doll making could be an art form until I opened a magazine years ago with the art of NIADA Artists Robert McKinley, Lisa Lichtenfels, and Nancy Wiley in it. 

Gallery piece by Connie Smith

Gallery piece created by Lisa Lichtenfels

From the moment I saw their work I became smitten with the desire to create art dolls, yet had never attended a NIADA conference until this past month. 
Gallery piece by Joe MacPhale
After attending the conference I have to ask myself, whatever took you so long? 
Gallery piece by Neva Waldt

 I thought I would share some pictures from the trip and give you a few reasons to attend the conference next year so you don’t find yourself asking what took you so long to attend.
Gallery piece by Theresa May

One reason to attend is the location of the event always seems to be a great place to visit.

The NIADA Conference was held in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.  Since my husband has a childhood friend that lives in that area and my close friend Christine has a son that also lives in that area we took the road trip together.
Bob had no idea that the Torpedo Factory was a series of art galleries and studios when Christine and I brought Bob and Russ along to see it.  They spent most of their time chatting away while Christine and I explored the studios and chatted away with several of the artists there. 
Russ and Bob at the Torpedo Factory Art Center
Christine and I at the Torpedo Factory

We enjoyed exploring the area and dining by the waterfront.
Old Town Waterfront
A major reason to attend is to actually see the art work in person.  
Gallery piece by Cindee Moyer

The pictures I am sharing don’t compare to the experience of seeing the art in front of you.  
Gallery piece by Marlene Verhelst

I attended the NIADA gallery exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria with my husband Bob.  
Gallery piece by Nina Tugarina

The artists were so warm, welcoming, and willing to explain in considerable detail the meaning behind their work, answer technical questions, and describe their techniques, materials used, etc.  
Gallery piece by Karin Otto-Burfict

I was so inspired by the work exhibited in the gallery. 
Gallery piece by Tatiana Baeva

Gallery piece by Sandra Oglesby

Gallery piece by Donna May Robinson

Gallery piece by  Tamara Pivnyuk

I was not alone in that inspiration either.  My husband was fascinated with Eva Hodinkova’s use of wood and motion in her art. 
Gallery piece by Eva ZHellerova Hodinkova

 He is now even more interested in creating jointed wooden dolls.

There were a series of wonderful programs presented at the conference which I enjoyed completely.  One of the programs was the Ten by Twelve program coordinated by Shelley Thornton which I was one of the lucky visiting artists to participate in.  It gave visiting artists an opportunity to present their work to NIADA members and attendees. 

The Keynote speaker was Leslie Molen.  She gave such an inspiring presentation!
Gallery piece by Leslie Molen
Another Reason to attend are the demonstrations provided by NIADA Artists.  I attended demonstrations on costume design (presented by Theresa May), the use of the color wheel (presented by Leslie Molen), creating shoes (presented by Nina Tugarina), making eyes out of polymer clay (presented by Diane Keeler), and stylized hair (presented by Cindee Moyer).   Each demonstration was filled with very useful information and techniques for the creation of art dolls.
Demo by Theresa May
One more reason to attend as a visiting artist is to have a critique done by NAIDA Artists of your work.  Donna May Robinson and Sandra Oglesby critiqued my work.  They gave me invaluable insight and guidance to steer my growth as an artist.  
Critique of Marla Niederer's  work by Sandra Oglesby and Donna May Robinson, photo by Sandra Oglesby
A reason to attend any doll making conference is to have fun, make new friends, and reconnect with old acquaintances.   Doll makers just tend to be a group of warm hearted sharing souls.  I attended the NIADA banquet and enjoyed visiting with new friends.  At the conference I also met some of my Facebook friends for the first time.  They are as lovely in person as they are online. 
At the conference everyone is presented with a souvenir doll.  I was the lucky recipient of one of the 3D printer souvenirs created by Tanya Marriott.
Marla Niederer with Tanya Marriott and one of  the 3D printer souvenirs Tanya created. 
And last but not least is the Exhibition and sale by NIADA artists.  It gives attendees an opportunity to see more work by the artists and engage in some wonderful shopping.
Since my husband has been expressing interest in doll making and is a very talented woodworker, I introduced him to Larry Blount.  
Larry Blount, photo by Stephanie Blythe
Larry Blount is one of the NIADA artists that utilizes wood in his doll making.  Bob and Larry seemed to enjoy a nice chat together during the show.

Attending the NIADA Conference was such an enjoyable experience that I can’t wait to return again for more!  If you are interested in more information about NIADA and future NIADA events just click on the following link to their website.


  1. Marla, you lucky girl! I wish I could have been there to see it in person. I love seeing everyone's work up close and personal, and being able to see all of my friends too...extra bonus! It's definitely a real treasure to attend the show. I had the opportunity to go and see the artist when they showed in Orlando a couple of years ago at Celebration. I'm glad that you had the opportunity to go. I am also looking forward to see what your husband creates! While we were at Quinlan, I could see the gears turning in his head. :-D I think it's fantastic. Tell him I am looking forward to his first creations! Big hugs to you! Lori

  2. Fabulous blog post, Marla! You are a true convert!

  3. Hi Marla! Thank you for the beautiful photos from the conference .... I did not have the pleasure to see your dolls but can tell we are bitten by the same bug.... just keep going!

  4. What a delightful & comprehensive blog, Marla! It was great to meet you, and thank you for the post & many great pictures! Hope to see you next year in Nashville, TN!

    1. Thank you Connie! It was so nice meeting you also! Looking forward to seeing you in Nashville!

  5. Great post about NIADA. You sound like so many of us, who can't stop making dolls. See you next year in Nashville!

    1. Thank you Ginger! Looking forward to seeing you in Nashville!

  6. Hi Marla
    Wonderful overview of the conference!
    I look forward to seeing you next year and what you have created. It was so nice to meet you.
    Donna May Robinson

    1. Thank you Donna! It was so nice to meet you also! Looking forward to seeing you in Nashville!

  7. Hi Marla
    Wonderful overview of the conference!
    I look forward to seeing you next year and what you have created. It was so nice to meet you.
    Donna May Robinson

  8. Hi Marla, it was a pleasure meeting you and your husband at the conference. Great blog! I hope to see both of you at the next conference. Big hugs :) Joe MacPhale

    1. Thank you Joe! It was so nice to meet you also! Looking forward to the next conference! Big hugs to you too :-)

  9. Hi Marla, I just came across your blog by chance , a lovely surprise. I am so glad that you came and added to the joy of the Convention . Hope to see you next year. Love, Luella