Archive for January, 2010

Words are Art!: Concrete Poetry at the DMA

The DMA is partnering with Joanna Henry and students from the Exploratory Arts Academy at Greiner Middle School to investigate how words and images can be integrated in works of art.  During their visit to the museum on December 15th, students participated in a ninety-minute tour featuring works of art that involve both images and text.  By suggesting that “words are art,” and talking about artists as “visual storytellers,” students realized that the artistic gap between words and images isn’t as wide as they might have imagined.  Students created concrete poems (poems in which the words are arranged to produce a composition with visual, as well as poetic, meaning), sketched, wrote captions, and composed written responses in an “accidental,” automatic style.  The Greiner students have plans to come back to the museum, but here are some of the works they saw during their first visit, and their own visual/textual responses: 

Piet Mondrian, "Place de la Concorde," 1943-1948: After looking at this painting and reading John Grandit's poem "Mondrian," students responded by creating their own concrete poems based on works of art in the museum galleries.

John Grandits' poem "Mondrian," about a teenage girl's visit to a museum with her father.

Piet Mondrian, "Self-Portrait," 1942


Robert Delaunay, "Eiffel Tower," 1924 Rene Magritte, "Persian Letters," 1958


Dorothea Tanning, "Pincushion to Serve as a Fetish," 1979

If you’d like to compose some concrete poetry of your own, Arts and Letters Live will be sponsoring a series of events with John Grandits: 

DIY at the DMA: Thursday, March 18th, 6:30-8:30PM in the DMA Tech Lab —“Try your own hand at concrete poetry inspired by works of art”  

Late Nights at the Dallas Museum of Art: Friday, March 19th, 8:30-10:00PM, C3 Theater—“John Grandits will share insights into his creative process and information about the history of concrete poetry from A.D. 800 to the present (including one from Alice and Wonderland).  Then you will write and design your own concrete poems inspired by works in the collection!”

Young Writers Workshop: Saturday, March 20th, 1:00-4:00PM, in the DMA Tech Lab—“Teens 13-18 years old who love to write and design can explore the Museum’s collections with John Grandits and then create their own concrete poems either by hand or in the Tech Lab”

Justin Greenlee

McDermott Intern with the Learning Partnerships Department

A Dream Come True

Last year, the DMA marked its 25th year in the Arts District, and the 30th anniversary of the successful bond election that brought it here.  Today’s photo post includes images from A Dream Come True: the Dallas Arts District, an exhibition of images and ephemera (from the Museum’s Archives) that documents both the DMA’s journey from bond campaign to building construction, and the recent growth of the Arts District.  A Dream Come True is on view in the Museum’s concourse until January 31st.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Learning Partnerships with Schools and the Community

Clockwise from top left: Advertisement for Bond Election Campaign, 1979;  View of Barrel Vault during construction, c. 1982;  View of DMA during construction, c. 1983;  Aerial view of DMA, 2004.       

Arts and Letters Live Spring Season

Carolyn Bess, Director of Arts and Letters Live, has kindly taken time to respond to questions related to her job and the upcoming spring season of Arts and Letters Live. To find out about Carolyn and her role here at  the Museum, read below!

Teaching Programs Coordinator

  1. Name and Title: Carolyn Bess, Director, Arts & Letters Live
  2. Years Employed at the Dallas Museum of Art: 13
  3. Describe your job at the art museum: I oversee Arts & Letters Live, the literary and performing arts series at the Museum, which is now entering its 19th season. We bring in high profile authors, actors, and musicians for special events. On many occasions, we connect themes in authors’ books with the Museum’s exhibitions and collections or create

    Carolyn Bess, Director, Arts and Letters Live

    unique performances combining art forms such as song, art, and poetry.

  4. What is your favorite part of your job? Creating the artistic vision for Arts & Letters Live and the opportunity to meet and talk with the authors and performers in person.
  5. What is a challenge that you face in your job? Like all non-profits in today’s economic times, cutting the budget and still breaking even financially is the largest challenge we face and one that requires constant monitoring. But I’m proud to say that we’ve done that successfully in these uncertain times and still maintained the high quality programs our audience has come to expect.
  6. Tell me about a memorable experience you had with someone who was participating in an Arts and Letters Live event. Last year I drove Elizabeth Gilbert to the Apple store at Willowbend after her event because she was getting error messages on her new laptop indicating that she might have lost the results of a productive day of writing. But the Apple guru saved it, and it’s now part of her newest book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (released January 5). I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations on the drive there and back, learning more about her life, new business venture, and travel tips for the future. I feel I connected with her personally.
  7. What are some of the highlights for Arts and Letters Live this spring? I’m so excited about many of the authors featured this January through June.

Some of the highlights include:

January 21      David Wroblewski (author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)

January 29      Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver

February 9      Vocal Colors: A Vibrant Collage of Arts on Stage (a multidisciplinary song-based performance inspired by exhibitions All the World’s A Stage and Performance/Art)

February 22    The first of five Texas Bound programs featuring Texas actors reading short fiction by Texas authors (this year at the Wyly Theatre!)

March 23         Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction author Tracy Kidder (Strength in What Remains)

March 28         Author-illustrator Jan Brett (author of The Mitten and many other books)

April 16            Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves (connections to Lens of Impressionism exhibition)

April 18            Jeff Kinney, author of the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

May 7              Laura Bush discussing her forthcoming memoir

May 13            Isabel Allende on her newest book Island Beneath the Sea (connections to the Coastlines exhibition)

May 25            Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, will discuss his highly anticipated second novel, Beatrice & Virgil

June 12           Ira Glass, host of the ever-popular radio and television series,This American Life

Did you know that DISD teachers can book tickets free of charge to Arts & Letters Live’s BooksmART events (featuring award-winning authors for the young and young-at-heart) through Dallas ArtsPartners? Go to or call 214-520-0023 for details. BooksmART flyer. Please help us spread the word about these programs!

For more details on Arts & Letters Live’s 2010 season, visit I look forward to seeing many of you at our events!


January Programs for Teachers

We are looking forward to two exciting programs for teachers this month! 

The Rachofsky House (photo by Michael Bodycomb)

In collaboration with The Rachofsky House, we are offering a teacher workshop on contemporary art that will include the current installation of the DMA’s Hoffman Galleries and a morning at The Rachofsky House led by Thomas Feulmer.  The workshop stretches over two Saturdays: January 9 and January 23.  Complete details, including registration, are available on our Web site

Teacher and DMA staff in the Tech Lab

Teachers will also have the opportunity to merge art and technology during our January Thursday Evening Program for Teachers.  The featured program this month will be Tech Lab: Open Lab on January 14 at 6:30 p.m.  Teachers are invited to experiment with Photoshop collages during this drop-in, hands-on program led by artist Kevin Todora.

Molly Kysar
Head of Teaching Programs

From Faxing to Blogging: A Few Reflective Moments

As many of us do with each new year, I will take an opportunity to reflect.  In this year’s case, we transitioned from one decade to another one. Since I began working at the Dallas Museum of Art in 1999 (exactly 10 years ago), I’ve decided to reflect on a collection of memorable Museum moments from the past decade. In keeping with the popular top 10-list approach, here is my list of moments — some BIG, some small.  In no particular order…

Educator Blog Goes Live! In September 2009, my colleagues and I entered the spacious blogosphere with our first entries for the Dallas Museum of Art Educator Blog.  This makes us one among the 133,000,000 blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002. Ten years ago faxes and snail mail were my primary form of communicating with teachers.  Now it’s email and social networks. Can you believe it?  Thanks for reading — we love to write for this blog!

A Centennial Celebration! In 2003, the DMA celebrated it’s 100th birthday. Based on an idea from one of the staff members, the Museum celebrated this momentous occasion by staying open for 100 straight hours!  Visitors young and old, big and small visited the Museum at all hours of the day and night for tours, yoga, birthday hat making, birthday cake, and much more.  Did you visit during the birthday celebration?  We also opened two amazing exhibitions that year.  100 Treasures for 100 Years was an exhibition featuring 100 masterworks from the Museum collection, which were organized by themes such as Mask, Opulence, and Transcendence.  That same year the DMA celebrated contemporary Texas art through the exhibition Come Forward: Emerging Art in Texas.

DISD 4th Graders Visit! During the 2007-2008 school year, the DMA initiated a partnership with DISD and Big Thought to bring every 4th grade student to the Museum.  Since the start of the program over 22,000 students have viewed works of art on docent-led tours at the DMA.  We look forward to a future time when every DISD graduate can say they have visited the DMA!

King Tutankhamun in the Big D! For 8 months spanning 2008 and 2009 Tut and his family’s treasures filled our galleries. The Boy King, as we referred to him around the halls, brought over 600,000 visitors to the DMA.  Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs was the third in a series of royal world art exhibitions that the DMA welcomed in last decade.  In 2006 it was Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship and in 2004 Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong.

Late Nights at the DMA! Based on the success of the 100-hour Centennial event, the Museum’s popular monthly Late Night celebration was born in 2004.  On the third Friday of each month, we stay open until midnight to welcome between 3,000 – 5,000 visitors.  I love Late Nights!   They transform the Museum and the experience of visiting a Museum.  People visit to come to have fun with friends, view art, make art, listen to music, attend talks and lectures, and watch performances.  The next Late Night is January 15.  Hope to see you there!

The Center for Creative Connections Opens! After several years of planning, the former Gateway Gallery was transformed into the new Center for Creative Connections, opening to the public in May 2008.  An interactive space designed to inspire visitors of all ages, the C3 is anchored in the DMA’s intent to connect with creativity and artists.  Look for programs and classes with artists throughout 2010!

New Kids on the Block! Did I make you look twice?  This one isn’t about the 80’s boy band.  The new kids I am talking about are the DMA’s neighbors to the East in the Dallas Arts District.  Do you remember the big parking lot where the Nasher used to be?  In 2003 the Nasher Sculpture Center, designed by architect Renzo Piano, opened to the public.  Our newest neighbors, the AT&T Performing Arts Center Winspear Opera House and the AT&T Performing Arts Center Wyly Theater, joined us this past fall to complete a vision for the Dallas Arts District that has been in the making since the 1970s.

Digitizing Educator Resources! 10 years ago the DMA said goodbye to slides and projectors, making the leap from paper teaching materials to digital resources for teachers and students.  I bet some of you still have those paper packets in your closets! We now have over 25 collections and exhibition-based online resource units available free to teachers near and far.  In partnership with UT Dallas, we also created an web-based learning game called DIG! The Maya Project.

Contemporary Collections Explode! In 2005, an unprecedented gift of modern and contemporary art was made to the DMA from several Dallas families including the Rachofsky, Hoffman, and Rose families.  In 2007, an exhibition featuring 300 of these artworks was held at the Museum.   Fast Forward: Contemporary Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art included work by artists Gerhard Richter, Matthew Barney, Vija Celmins, Joseph Cornell, Robert Ryman, and Lucio Fontana among others.

Go van Gogh Gets a New Look! For more than 30 years, Go van Gogh has traveled out to classrooms in the community delivering free art programs to elementary age students.  A new van and a new look were introduced in this decade to celebrate the dynamic nature of this education program and honor its long history!

What events, exhibitions, and experiences are among your top 10 at the DMA? Leave a comment and let us know!  We would love to hear from you and we look forward to more blogging in 2010.  Happy New Year!

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Learning Partnerships for Schools and the Community

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