Archive for June, 2011

Moments of Epiphany: Talking Creativity with an Educational Psychologist

We were lucky at our last Educator Reading Group to have Dr. Magdalena Grohman as a guest facilitator.  Dr. Grohman is an associate director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology, a lecturer at the School of Behavior and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas, Dallas, and a frequent DMA collaborator.

Dr. Grohman recommended an article from Educational Psychologist titled “Why Isn’t Creativity More Important to Educational Psychologists?  Potentials, Pitfalls, and Future Directions in Creativity Research.”  The reading invited us to reconsider beliefs and ”myths” we might hold about creativity: that creativity is something you either have or you don’t, that there is a singular type of creative person (and they are often outsiders), and that creativity is enhanced within a group.  The article also teased out a definition of creativity based on content analysis of peer-reviewed business, education, and psychology journals.

During our discussion, we thought through our own myths about creativity and the theory and practice of creativity both in our programs and jobs.  How do we talk to students in our programs and classes about creativity and their creative abilities? And how is that different from what they hear from teachers in school?  How do we structure brainstorming sessions, and work in large groups on creative projects?  

We also learned about the science of creativity.  Dr. Grohman, sharing her expertise, helped us look behind our mysterious moments of creative insight to find what’s in play cognitively, that networks of concepts in the memory get flexible (usually as we relax) and we connect remote ideas with one another, metaphorizing, and generating something new.  This cognitive picture of creativity complements the first-person accounts and understandings of creative process we know best—the things we hear artists and writers say to explain their moments of epiphany–that flashes of brilliance come from nowhere, and creativity is something beyond our control. (For more on this, see Elizabeth Gilbert’s excellent TED Talk about creative genius.)

One of the things Dr. Grohman does is provide people with tools and techniques to jump start creative thinking.  She led us in a quick activity after our conversation.  We split into pairs and were asked to make a joint drawing, based on a simple prompt.  As part of the activity we weren’t allowed to talk or in any way communicate with our partner about what we were drawing.  After each pair finished, Dr. Grohman sequenced our artworks, and asked us to create a story to link them together.  Illustrations from our activity and images of participants are in the slideshow below.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach

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Seldom Scene: Word Play

Last week was our first week of Summer Art Camps here at the DMA. Below are photos from our Word Play camp, led by David Herman, Jr. We still have six more weeks of Summer Art Camps. Click here for details.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, Marketing Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Mavs Madness!

One of the many perks of working at the DMA is being perfectly positioned downtown and within walking distance of yesterday’s Dallas Mavericks’ victory parade.  Amy Copeland, Shannon Karol, DMA Public Relations Specialist Kimberly Daniell, and I walked down to the West End to join in the festivities.  Seeing the joy in the players’ faces and being a part of the energy and excitment was definitely an unforgettable experience!

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 Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community


How to Throw a Block Party

Have you ever wanted to throw a block party but don’t know how to go about it? One of the interesting things about my job is that I now know a lot about what goes into making a good one.

On June 17 we’ll host our third annual Summer Block Party in the Arts District, and I wanted to share a little of the “backstage” planning. The Summer Block Party has always involved the Arts District museums and Downtown Dallas Inc., and this year we are also working with the Dallas Symphony and the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

The first part of planning any big event is getting all the “players” together to discuss ideas and work out the details. Our first Arts District group meeting was the first week of April, and we have had two group meetings since then. Agenda items for these meetings included planning joint programs, discussing street closure logistics, and crafting a marketing plan.

A street performance during a Summer Block Party

After these meetings, the “point person” from each institution goes back “home” to work out the specifics. Here at the DMA we had meetings with our Security, Operations, Membership, and Marketing teams to go over all the details for the DMA’s Late Night, especially the Summer Concert featuring The Polyphonic Spree. Between that first planning meeting in April and the event on June 17, I will have had fourteen internal meetings with various staff members just about this one event.

A past Late Night Summer Concert on Ross Avenue Plaza

Another aspect of throwing a block party is closing the streets between the museums. We do this so we can have programs outside and for the safety of all our visitors, who will be walking back and forth between the institutions. Closing the streets requires a permit from the City, which must be submitted forty-five days before the event. Once we get the okay from the City, we have to secure police officers, outdoor lighting, port-a-potties, and street barricades.

After our programs are confirmed, we then work with our graphic designers and editor to create a schedule of events, which we give to visitors when they arrive that night. We submit text three weeks in advance to give them time to edit and design the schedule, have staff review the schedule, and make any last minute changes before sending it to the printer. We then update our website with all the current information, and our PR department sends out a press release and begins posting on Facebook and Twitter.

Proof for the Late Night Schedule of Events

Lastly, to continue in the tradition of my previous blog post about Late Nights, I thought I would end this post with a new Late Nights by the Numbers list:

272 – number of emails I have sent and received about the Summer Block Party since April

52 – number of performers and artists featured during the June Late Night

7,000 – number of Late Night event schedules printed for this night

6 – number of food trucks that will serve food during the Summer Block Party

2 – number of clues the DMA will tweet for the Museum Art Challenge on Twitter

12 – number of port-a-potties on-site during the Summer Block Party

4 – number of rotating mirror balls that will be used during The Polyphonic Spree concert

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services.

BooksmART Festival in Review

The Museum hosted its first ever BooksmART Festival on June 11.  Thousands of visitors heard presentations and attended workshops led by noted authors and illustrators, including Rick Riordan, Norton Juster, and Jerry Pinkney. Rick Riordan spoke to a full house, where he shared a sneak peek of Chapter Two from the second Lost Heroes book, Son of Neptune.  There was audible excitement in the crowd when Percy Jackson’s name was mentioned in that chapter.  Riordan was obviously the big draw for the day, and his book signing line stretched all the way from Ross Avenue to Flora Street!

Members of our staff were on hand to help during the festival, too.  Nicole set up two mobile Tech Labs, which allowed visitors to connect with works of art through technology.  In the European galleries, visitors plugged words into Wordle to create Word Clouds inspired by works of art.  In the Sculpture Garden, visitors used digital cameras to photograph Dallas Snake.  Over 600 photos were captured in a two-hour time span.

I coordinated all of the tours that were offered during the day.  Our former intern Karen led the “Heroes” tour, which looked at heroes, including Perseus, throughout our collection.  I led visitors on an “Animal Safari” through the galleries to look for animals in works of art.  And, two of our Teen Docents led “A Looking Journey” tours, which focused on stories in works of art.  We’ll offer Animal Safari and A Looking Journey tours throughout the summer.  Email if you want to schedule one of these tours for your student group.

I snapped photos throughout the day and thought you might enjoy this look back at the BooksmART Festival.

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Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Friday Photos: Introducing Loryn Leonard

I am excited to introduce a new contributor to our blog.  Loryn Leonard is the DMA’s brand new Coordinator of Museum Visits, and will be your primary contact for scheduling student visits to the Museum.  We’ll introduce Loryn in more detail next month.  For now, I hope you enjoy this sneak peek into her first week at the DMA!

Loryn (on the right) in her first departmental meeting

Getting settled in her new desk space

Loryn gets acquainted with the Kota reliquary in our African galleries

Loryn and the 2011 Teen Docents

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Seldom Scene’s Seldom Seen

Rarely on view, Henri Matisse’s Ivy in Flower—a full-scale maquette for a stained glass window made late in the artist’s career—will be installed for six months in the Concourse. Here are some photos from the large cutout’s installation.

Henri Matisse, Ivy in Flower, 1953, colored paper, watercolor, pencil, and brown paper tape on paper mounted on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation

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