Teen Ambassadors’ Summer in Review

From Pop-Up Art Spots to interactive story times, it’s been a great summer for family fun at the DMA! If you visited the Museum this summer to enjoy some of these activities, you’ve likely met one of our friendly and knowledgeable Teen Ambassadors. We checked in with three Teen Ambassadors—Martina D’Orso, Grace Ling, and Aditi Krishnan—to get a recap on how their summer at the DMA went. Grace and Aditi will be sophomores at the School for the Talented and Gifted at Townview Magnet Center this fall, and Martina will be a junior at Booker T. Washington High School.

Why were you interested in volunteering at the DMA?

Grace: My mom first took me to the DMA when I was a toddler to attend an art workshop. As I grew up I continued to attend the art programs the Museum offers for different ages and visit the traveling exhibits as well as the permanent ones. I thought that volunteering at a place I often went to as a kid would be a good way to give back and experience the Museum from a different perspective.

Martina: Since I am in the visual arts conservatory at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, I am interested in the arts. I wanted to see what it was like to work in a museum leading tours and helping out during events.

Aditi: I actually became interested in volunteering at the DMA because of a previous Teen Ambassador. Five or six years ago, I came to the DMA with my mom and our first stop was the Center for Creative Connections (C3). The activity we were doing had something to do with recycled materials, and a Teen Ambassador helped me pick my materials and complete my project. She explained the volunteer program to me and encouraged me to join when I was old enough. Since I was pretty young, I forgot that conversation for a while, but when my friend Grace mentioned her position as a Teen Ambassador to me, I remembered my excitement from that day and decided to apply.

What does a day in the life of a Teen Ambassador look like?

Aditi: Because each day will have different shifts and schedules, each day in the life of a Teen Ambassador is a little different. I tend to sign up for multiple shifts in the same day, so my day starts in C3. Before the Museum opens, I mostly prepare art materials for the visitors. Once the Museum opens, I typically help children with the activities and straighten out any messy stations. I usually get lunch in Klyde Warren Park with my friend and come back to do a Family Tour or Pop-Up Art Spot. My favorite shift is the tour because I get to talk directly to kids and teach them about a work of art in a fun and interesting way!

Grace: My favorite shift is Family Story Time. I love seeing the kids’ reactions to the story, which can range from humor to bewilderment. We conclude each story time with an art discussion and drawing activity where they make their own art inspired by what they learned. It’s cool how reading a children’s book can help make that connection and take art appreciation to the next level, where they use their creative imaginations and think deeper.

Do you have any stories or stand-out moments that have happened to you while volunteering?

Grace: When I was volunteering for the Late Night Pop-Up Art Spot, a lady came to try out a coloring activity and we started talking. She talked about how she used to sew wedding dresses and loved making art. It is interesting to listen to other people tell their stories and share experiences.

Martina: A stand-out moment that happened to me was on a Family Tour. The kids on the tour were so excited and they decided they were going to become friends after about 15 minutes of knowing each other. It was just so sweet how the kids are so nice and friendly to each other no matter what.

Aditi: When my friend and I were hosting a Pop-Up Art Spot in the Jonas Wood exhibition, a group of around 15 kids and a few chaperones came in looking pretty upset. The chaperones told us that they were supposed to attend a Family Tour, but they had gotten the dates wrong, so they had been waiting near C3 with nothing to do. We gave each child a coloring sheet and some colored pencils from the Pop-Up Art Spot and after they finished coloring, we let them take some coloring sheets home. The kids were overjoyed! I especially enjoyed this moment since coloring was all it took to make the kids happy.

Why should someone be a Teen Ambassador?

Grace: It is a great opportunity to practice communication skills, meet new people, learn about art, have fun, and contribute to the museum visitor experience.

Martina: It is an enriching experience that helps you understand how life in a museum works. You learn facts about artworks that you wouldn’t have known just by walking around the Museum alone. Additionally, you are able to learn how to talk and interact with people, which is a great skill to learn if you are a bit more introverted.

Aditi: I think one should be a Teen Ambassador because of the fun you have. You get to enjoy and appreciate the art around the DMA and help other children do so too! Teen Ambassadors also get to teach little kids about art in an exciting and entertaining manner, as opposed to just spitting out facts. You also get to meet new people and make friends with others who are interested in art as well. Lastly, the communication and collaboration skills you develop as a Teen Ambassador are essential for almost every career.

Applications for the DMA’s summer Teen Ambassador program will open in March 2020. If you’re interested in staying involved with the Museum during the next school year, consider joining the Teen Advisory Council—applications are due by August 19!

Got questions about the volunteer opportunities for teens at the DMA? Email teens@DMA.org and we’ll get right back to you!

Jessica Thompson-Castillo is the Manager of Teen Programs at the DMA.

The Art World and Dior: Raf Simons

Andy Warhol walked the René Magritte cloud-inspired runway, but Raf Simons’ Fall 2013 collection borrowed its name, “The Persistence of Memory,” from Salvador Dalí. Simons, drawing on formative moments in his life and in the life of Christian Dior, nods here to their shared journey as art gallerists-turned-couturiers. Simons, Dior Creative Director from 2012 to 2015, was dedicated to continuing the bond between artists and Dior.

Dior closed his gallery in 1934 when the 1929 financial crisis adversely affected the art market. In 1945, Dior turned to Dalí as the inspiration for his Autumn/Winter collection, and in 1950 Dior and Dalí collaborated in Brazil to create the futuristic Costume of the year 2045.

Salvador Dalí, Costume of the year 2045, 1950, blue silk dress and red crutch, Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand

In his debut Dior collection, Simons collaborated with contemporary artist Sterling Ruby. Simons used custom-made silks based on Ruby’s paintings, turning the canvases into haute couture. Ruby was a contemporary of Simons in the same way Dalí was a contemporary of Dior’s.

Looks from Christian Dior by Raf Simons’ Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2012 collection displayed alongside Sterling Ruby’s work SP115.

Throughout his tenure at 30 Avenue Montaigne, Simons revisited Dior’s personal history, weaving Dior’s love of art, and art connections, into the future.

A fortuneteller once told 14-year-old Dior:

“You’ll find yourself penniless, but women will always bring you luck and it is through them that you’ll be successful.”

Dior reportedly had his tarot cards read before every runway show. Pop artist Andy Warhol was also superstitious—and fascinated with Christian Dior. Like Dior, Andy Warhol’s first commission was a Glamour magazine sketch of a stylish woman sitting on the top rung of a ladder.

Simons connected Dior to Warhol through his career as a commercial artist and illustrator for department stores. For his Fall 2013 collection, created in conjunction with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, he incorporated Warhol’s early illustrations into his designs.

A key work exploring the relationship between Warhol and Dior is a painted folding screen for the Miss Dior perfume. The screen was used as a display in the window of the Bonwit Teller department store.

The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc/ARS

Coming full circle, Warhol goes from creating the Miss Dior perfume ad to being featured on the Miss Dior bag in Simons’ Fall 2013 collection. You can see the Limited Edition Miss Dior handbag from the collection in Dior: From Paris to the World‘s “Total Look” gallery.

Simons also directly referenced Warhol’s 1966 work Silver Clouds as a nod to Warhol, Dior, and Simons’ own shared past. Models displayed reimagined Dior designs and Warhol sketches as they walked past giant silver sculptures; however, when the Fall 2013 collection walked, fashion magazines noted the sculptural resemblance to Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor, better known as the “The Bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Perhaps Simons references both—a fleeting reminder that history repeats itself.

______________________________________________________________________________

Visit DMA.org/Dior to reserve timed exhibition tickets in advance for Dior: From Paris to the World.

Clara Cobb is the Senior Marketing Manager at the DMA.

C3 Visiting Artist Interview: Spencer Evans

In My Image, an installation by C3 Visiting Artist Spencer Evans in the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections, explores notions of image and identity. For this project, Evans drew inspiration from Jacques Lacan’s “Mirror Stage” theory, which suggests that children base their identity on their environment before becoming aware of their own reflection. The final product is a collaborative installation of self-portraits started by Museum visitors and completed by the artist by referencing conversations and reflections shared about each participant’s unique identity. 

We sat down with Evans to learn more about what inspires him, how he describes his art, and what his experience has been like as a C3 Visiting Artist. Check it out:

Drop by the DMA through August 2019 to see In My Image. Visitors also have the opportunity to meet Spencer Evans and learn more about his installation at the closing reception on Thursday, August 1.

Interested in making your mark on the DMA and becoming a C3 Visiting Artist for 2020? Applications are still open through August 2! Learn more about the C3 Visiting Artist Project and apply here.

Dior and Dali: Maria Grazia Chiuri

Surrealism has had a major impact on both the art world and popular visual culture. Its influences are evident in Pop art, Abstract Expressionism, and time-based media installations, and in contemporary film, music, and advertising. In Dior: From Paris to the World, you can see Surrealism’s influence as a continuing inspiration in haute couture fashion.

Maria Grazia Chiuri explored Surrealist symbolism in her Spring–Summer 2018 show, where monochromatic black and white dresses were offset by a black-and-white chessboard runway “in a not-so-subtle nod to the world of games,” according to Dior, “conjuring an otherworldliness and constant optical illusion.”

© Bakas Algirdas

Chiuri explored Surrealism in her collection with a focus on American photographer Man Ray and female Surrealists Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini. It’s no coincidence that she found inspiration in Fini, as Christian Dior, an art gallerist turned couturier, organized Fini’s first solo exhibition in November 1932.

Fini, a young and audacious artist, was a celebrity in her time, in part thanks to Dior. She often wore his designs—although in a memorable 1936 episode she attended a party wearing only “knee-length white leatherette boots and a cape of white feathers.”

Look 19. Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri. Haute Couture Spring–Summer 2018. Courtesy of Dior.

Alchimiste, a checkerboard ensemble that includes a long dress made of organza inserts with a feather-embroidered short cape (Look 5, Maria Grazia Chiuri: The New Feminity), reimagines a representation of Fini’s famous party ensemble against the Surrealist chessboard.

Look 48. Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri. Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2018. Courtesy of Dior.

More literally, Chiuri’s dress Nude (Look 8, Maria Grazia Chiuri: The New Feminity), with its trompe l’oeil dress embroidered with metallic sequins, is a literal interpretation of Man Ray’s 1929 Nude. A copy of Man Ray’s work can be found on Chiuri’s mood board.

In a way, the dress also pays homage to René Magritte’s The Light of Coincidences, on view in the DMA’s European Galleries on Level 2. In creating Chiuri’s Nude, hand-embroidered silver metal sequins were specially placed so the results mimicked light reflecting on the body, similar to the candlelight against Magritte’s sculptural torso.

René Magritte, The Light of Coincidences, 1933, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, 1981.9, © C. Herscovici, Brussels/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Dior also debuted Salvador Dalí’s masterpiece The Persistence of Memory as part of a larger solo exhibition in 1931. The painting famously depicts Dalí’s melting clocks, which Dior presented when he worked at the Galérie Bonjean. Chiuri also displays Dalí’s 1944 Vogue cover on her mood board in the exhibition.

Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, 162.1934, © 2019 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” played over the last looks in the runway show—New York’s Newsday described the band as having “blurring effects [that] stretch and contract the music into the liquid surrealism of a Salvador Dalí painting.” Their 1992 Gravity Grave EP cover nods to The Persistence of Memory.

The Verve’s Gravity Grave EP cover

However, it was most likely Fini that Chiuri was channeling when she chose The Verve, using graphic masks to note literally Fini’s passion for grand balls, which allowed her to impersonate different characters. An extraordinary ball held at Venice’s Palazzo Labia on September 3, 1951, organized by Charles de Beistegui, would go down in posterity as “The Ball of the Century” and an unforgettable fusion of the arts. Dior, Fini, and Dalí were among the 1,500 guests.

Andre Ostier, Leonor Fini, 1951, gelatin silver print, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by Mr. and Mrs. Harry B. Gordon, 80.22

And what is a ball without a mask? Is fashion not a daily mask we can use like a Surrealist to explore playing with reality?

As The Verve sang over Chiuri’s runway: “I’m a million different people from one day to the next, I can’t change my mold no, no, no, no.”

Explore these Surrealist connections and more in Dior: From Paris to the World through September 1. Visitors must purchase timed tickets in advance at DMA.org/Dior.

Clara Cobb is the Senior Marketing Manager at the DMA.

Make it a Cool Summer

I think we can all agree—Texas summers are one of a kind. Growing up, my family frequently piled into a car and braved the murky water of Galveston beach to escape from the heat. Little did I know, someday I would spend my summers in a temperature-controlled paradise called the Dallas Museum of Art. If you are looking for a way to make it a cool summer break, head to the DMA for some free family fun!

Whether you are in the mood for a group activity or craving some quiet time, we have a program for you! Starting on June 11 and running through August 9, our Summer Family Fun programs give you the chance to enjoy a new experience every day. Participate in story time, interactive tours, or visit the Pop-Up Art Spot to engage with the Museum’s collection through fun activities.

Leading the way for the majority of our summer family programs is a group of art-loving teenagers called the DMA Teen Ambassadors. The Teen Ambassadors dedicate part of their summer to learning AND leading at the Museum. These enthusiastic teens learn the ins and outs of museum teaching and then spend the rest of the summer putting their skills to work through engaging story times, interactive tours and more. Keep an eye out for this enthusiastic and talented group of teens!

I know crowds aren’t for everyone—if you’re looking for some quiet time and want help exploring the galleries at your own pace, Family Gallery Guides are available anytime the Museum is open. These paper guides are designed to send you on your own adventure through the galleries! If you’re looking for another way to explore on your own, make your way to the Center for Creative Connections (C3), a space designed for visitors of all ages to wander and interact with art in new and innovative ways.

Denise Gonzalez is the Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs at the DMA.

What to Look for When You’re in a Museum

The Inspired City, planned by the DMA’s literary series Arts & Letters Live, connects art, people, books, and ideas in creative ways, ignites curiosity, and offers unique experiences for all ages. On June 1, hear acclaimed authors talk about their latest books, meet them personally at book signings, and experience the DMA in new ways through interactive workshops and gallery walks led by authors, activities with artists, and more! All programs are FREE.

Rob Walker, author of The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday, will host a talk and tour at the DMA during this event. In his new book, he highlights a numbers of tips for enjoying your surroundings and stimulating creative thinking at an art museum. Here are some highlights to think about at your next museum visit:

PLAY “BUY, BURN, OR STEAL”*

  • Challenge yourself to examine all the works in a particular space and decide which of the artworks you’d be willing to buy, which one you despise so much you’d like to burn it, and which one you love so much you’d steal it.

CONDUCT AN UNRELATED ACTIVITY

  • Maybe it’s worth playfully accepting the notion of a museum as mere background, an environment we inhabit incidentally, as we do other spaces. At the DMA, we suggest walking and meditating. Come up with your own suitable physical and mental health regimens.

DISCOVER THE BIG WITHIN THE SMALL

  • Look carefully and seek out the humanity and the humor and absurdity in things.
  • Always be very curious and always be looking around.
  • Find the joy in wondering about a toilet paper roll or a coffee cup lid.

MAKE IT ART

  • Grant yourself the superpower of making “art” wherever you go, and see how that changes what you perceive. Art is everywhere, if you say so.

CHANGE IS TO COULD BE

  • Try your hand at conditional thinking: prime yourself to think in conditionals instead of absolutes—see something not for what it is, but what it could be.
  • Look for an answer instead of the answer, and see how you can shift and broaden your vision.

DON’T PHOTOGRAPH—DRAW

  • Suppose the next time you’re tempted to capture a snapshot of an appealing or interesting scene, you draw it instead?
  • Many people believe that they “can’t draw,” meaning that they’re not terribly good at drawing, or find trying to draw either frustrating or embarrassing. Be heartened that you don’t need to show your drawing to anyone!
  • Get yourself a cheap little notebook and pull it out the next time you’re tempted to reach for your phone. Draw one thing—just one! Then do it again. Fill your notebook.

* “Buy, Burn, Steal” concept courtesy of Museum Hack

Adapted from Rob Walker’sThe Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everydayby Valerie Chang, McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live.

The Barrel Vault’s New Look

Haute couture heaven has arrived at the DMA, and it’s here for fashionistas to feast their eyes on throughout the summer. From the moment you enter Dior: From Paris to the World, there is no shortage of “wow” moments around every corner—luxurious vintage looks dating back to the 1940s, impeccably white toiles hanging high under a mirrored ceiling, a cathedral-like wall displaying dresses worn by iconic celebrities—all of which are made even more magnificent by the space in which they are presented.

If you’ve visited the Museum some months ago, you may remember the last presentation that was held in the Barrel Vault, An Enduring Legacy. From then to now, the space has completely transformed. See for yourself:

Installation photo of An Enduring Legacy: The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art
Installation photo of Dior: From Paris to the World, courtesy of James Florio

To gain some behind-the-scenes insights about the making of this exhibition, I asked Skye Malish-Olson, Exhibition Designer, and Jaclyn Le, Senior Graphic Designer, some questions about what it was like working on this show.

How does Dior compare to other DMA exhibitions you’ve worked on?
Skye: This was different from other exhibitions, where the whole team is DMA staff. In my role as designer, typically I work directly with representatives of each DMA department and with the curator to understand their vision in order to translate it to a physical exhibition presentation. In this case, designers from OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) created the experience of the space in collaboration with Dior. OMA also designed the exhibition for the Denver Art Museum (DAM), the show’s previous venue, but they designed a very different experience for each institution because the architecture of the two museums is so different. One thing that was important was that visitors would move from one gallery to the next in a prescribed path, not the open-ended grid of galleries that our Barrel Vault and Quads typically provide. To create this pathway, while using the full height of the existing architecture, OMA totally changed the space with a full architectural intervention, re-imagining the physical possibilities of this gallery.

Jaclyn: I had to make sure that all environmental graphics and wayfinding were consistent throughout all locations of the exhibition. Dior is also different from other exhibitions I’ve worked on because I typically create the exhibition identity and environmental graphics for our exhibitions in collaboration with the curator and our internal team. In this case, I worked with Dior’s identity, OMA’s concept direction, and design assets from DAM, and many more stakeholders were involved in the approval of all the exhibition and interpretive graphics.

Were there any aspects of this exhibition that you worked on most?
Skye: I worked between OMA’s concept, our internal team, and external fabricators and contractors to help make this conceptual vision a physical reality. With our DMA team leading the planning process, it was a big challenge to pull this off with so many stakeholders in multiple locations. It was a truly ambitious design that required a lot of troubleshooting and multiple rounds of specifying materials.

Jaclyn: Following OMA’s concepts and some of the exhibition graphics from DAM, and working with our internal team, I was involved in all of the components of the exhibition environmental graphics and interpretation graphics. Everything from handling the Concourse mural of Christian Dior’s sketches, manipulating the façade design of Dior’s Atelier Design House to fit the arched entrance to our exhibition, and designing the headers for each gallery, the exhibition map, wayfinding, and labels and identification numbers. It took a lot of coordination between the various teams and vendors, and taking mock-ups of all the designs into the galleries to get a feel for how all the graphics would play in the space.

What was the biggest challenge in the exhibition graphic design or in transforming this space?
Skye: With all of the complex and impressive design elements, the biggest challenge actually turned out to be the lighting. Each piece needs to be properly lit from multiple angles, something that needed to be built in to the infrastructure, especially in places with high ceilings or in recessed areas.

Jaclyn: The biggest challenge was probably the Concourse mural of Christian Dior’s historic sketches. It was challenging because I was working with scans of his beautiful drawings, and I wanted to keep their organic quality when reproducing them as larger-than-life graphics. Our Concourse walls are long and angled, and I had to make sure that the layout of dresses fit nicely down the length of the Concourse.

Which is your favorite room or section of the show?
Jaclyn: I really love the Creative Director galleries. Each creative director had such a distinct vision and I enjoy seeing their inspirations, mood boards, sketches, and completed works all together and showcased in such a beautiful way.

Skye: My favorite space is the Office of Dreams. I love the simple, clean construction of the space, which mirrors the clean construction of the toiles. Seeing the handwork that designed these incredible garments in three dimensions creates such a direct connection to the artful process of their creation.

Images courtesy of James Florio

Any other hidden gems or interesting tidbits about this space?
Skye: The top 40 feet of mirror at the back of the Barrel Vault is actually a stretched mirror fabric that is incredibly lightweight.

Describe this space in three words.
Jaclyn: Innovative, magnificent, magical.
Skye: Transformed, complex, impressive.

Visitors can be dazzled by Dior: From Paris to the World at the DMA now through September 1. Timed tickets are required for all visitors and must be purchased or reserved in advance. Check out our FAQ page for more information, and we hope you enjoy the show!

Hayley Caldwell is the Copy and Content Marketing Writer at the DMA.


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