Spotlight on Denise Ford, DMA Docent

Today is our first day of tours for the 2010-2011 school year, and we are excited to share our collections and our new exhibitions–Arts of Mexico and African Masks: The Art of Disguise–with teachers and students from across the Metroplex.  Our tour calendar is filling up quickly, so if you want to schedule a DMA visit for your students, fill out our Online Visit Request Form soon.

With the start of tours comes the return of our fabulous docents.  This year, we have 108 docents who will give tours to K-12 and Higher Education students, as well as to adults.  I thought I would give you a chance to get to know one of our brand new docents, Denise Ford.*  Denise joined the DMA docent program last year, and this is her first year as a full-time touring docent.  If you bring your students for a tour on a Tuesday afternoon, you just might have Denise as your guide!

Docent Denise Ford in front of Hans Hofmann's Red and Blue Harmony

How long have you been a DMA docent?
I have been a docent for one year.

Why did you become a docent?
I became a docent because of my interest in art, my desire to interact with other people (especially students), and my desire to give back to the Dallas community.

Tell me about your experience in the docent program.
In the short time that I have been a docent, I have learned so much about art and how history and culture are such vital parts of art and artists.  I have met all kinds of people from all walks of life.  I have enjoyed spending time in the Museum with students, many of whom are new to the Museum.  I particularly like to encourage the students to develop ideas about the objects they are looking at.

What is your favorite work of art in the DMA collection?
My favorite work of art in the DMA collection is The Eye by David Altmejd.  The Eye was an object all students loved to see and interpret.  I also enjoy the Reves Collection , especially touring students because it helps them understand art outside of the museum and in someone’s home!

Share your best tour experience.
I had many memorable experiences and am trying to keep a tour journal.  Two experiences stand out from this past year.  The first was a male student who was somewhat quiet and stayed a little distant from the rest of the class.  After fifteen minutes or so, he warmed up and said, ‘You have a nice smile.’  The second was a group who was interested, informed, and welcomed challenging ideas.  One girl in this group latched onto my arm about halfway through the tour and never left my side until it was time to board the bus.  When she left, she said, “Before I came today, I did not think I liked art and museums.  I thought it was boring.  But I loved this, and want to bring my mom back with me.”

Docent Denise Ford with a group of 4th graders

Denise also understands how important teachers are in the lives of their students.  She says: “Although I have never taught school, I really appreciate the teachers who bring their students to the Museum.  Teaching requires a gift of patience and a kind spirit.  It is apparent when there is positive interaction between teachers and their students.”  I couldn’t agree with her more!  We hope to see you and your students at the DMA this year.

Shannon Karol
Coordinator of Museum Visits

*If you would like to learn more about our docents, visit the DMA’s new blog Uncrated, which features an interview with docent Tom Matthews.


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