PechaKucha draws nearly 200 people to share artwork

UVM’s Fleming Museum hosted Volume 2 of Burlington’s PechaKucha Night (PKN) on Thursday, Feb. 10, drawing a dozen presenters and nearly 200 audience members to the museum’s Marble Court. Presenters had five minutes each to show their work to the audience under the time constraints of the PKN format. “We had a diverse group of presenters with topics ranging from the expected — like design and architecture — to some surprises, like spirituality in business and water conservation,” Fleming Museum Public Relations and Marketing staff Chris Dissinger said. “[PKN] began as a phenomenon in Tokyo in 2003 by an architecture firm that got really tired of hearing very long-winded presentations,” Fleming Museum Director Janie Cohen said. PechaKucha allows each presenter 20 slides, each slide advancing automatically after 20 seconds, Cohen said. PechaKucha, which draws its name from the Japanese term for “chit chat,” began as a way for young designers to present their work and meet other like-minded people, according to the international website for PechaKucha Night. “The concept is really cool. I really like the idea of a time limit … you can only say so much,” presenter Deb Lyons, executive director of Puppets in Education, said. “Twenty seconds for each slide, 20 slides. I love that it’s an international event, that it’s happening in all different countries and different states.” Metal sculptor, public artist, and 2001 UVM graduate Kat Clear was the first presenter, using her time to show recent work and to float an idea for a collaboration with other local artists. “We’re thinking about how we can create a really cool event that allows each of us to utilize our specialized skills, and do it together under the fun, exciting, concept of the circus,” Clear said. Other presenters included photographers, a branding consultant, an opponent of a proposed Hannaford supermarket in Hinesburg, and a UVM student who shared her personal story of how art therapy has helped her cope with difficult emotions. “When I got to college two and a half years ago, I started painting and doing photography, and I started to just feel better,” junior Kathryn Vetter said, as images of her paintings and photography were projected on the screen. “That was the greatest feeling ever of my entire life,” she said. “Since then, I’ve been a much happier person.” Dissinger, who organized the event, wrote that he was “thrilled” with the event’s turnout. “PKN seems to have struck a creative nerve in the community and we’re drawing a large crowd — the Marble Court is filling up to the balconies,” Dissinger said. The next Burlington PKN night will be held on May 12 at the Fleming Museum, according to event organizers. “We already have three-quarters of our May 12 PKN night presenter slots filled — most coming from people attending last Thursday’s event and excited to share their own creative work and inspiration,” Dissinger said