Archive for December, 2011

Off the Wall: I Don’t Like the Color Grey

In our Center for Creative Connections we ask visitors to reflect on their responses to the spaces they encounter in art, as well as those they encounter in their everyday life.

For one work of art specifically, Lee Bontecou’s Untitled, we ask visitors to respond to one of three prompts:

  • To me, sharing space with this work of art feels like…
  • The words or pictures that come to mind when I look at this work of art are…
  • If this work of art was part of something larger, describe what it would be.

Untitled (35), Lee Bontecou, 1961, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of an anonymous foundation

We have gotten a lot of great responses from visitors and want to share a few with you. Once a month we will have an “Off the Wall” post featuring three responses left by visitors.

Next time you are in the Center for Creative Connections add your contribution to the wall and maybe you will see it on Uncrated!

Teaching for Creativity: A Few Good Books

I am often inspired by a good read and I am an equal opportunity reader.  I love both fiction and non-fiction books and find that both can ignite my creative capacities.  Through fiction, I escape the day-to-day to walk in a character’s shoes and visit places unfamiliar, perhaps discovering an interesting metaphor that results in a richer understanding of the world around me.   Encountering new perspectives from an expert in another field and reading about real-world stories and events are a few things I appreciate about non-fiction reading.   These too can lead to richer understandings.  Here’s a list of books on my radar presently (some in the mail as I write) for which I have high expectations of stirring my creative spirit.  After you take a look at this list, then share with us what’s on your bookshelf or nightstand that is provoking you to think in new ways and see the world with fresh eyes?

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer – This one comes out in March, 2012 and is the third book written by author Jonah Lehrer.  Lehrer has a background in neuroscience and a strong interest in the relationships between art and science.  In Imagine, he discusses new science about creativity and proposes that all of us can achieve increased creativity through effectively using a distinct set of thought processes.  Lucky for me (and others), Lehrer will be in Dallas on March 23, 2012 presenting at the DMA’s Arts and Letters Live programming.

Sketchbook with Voices by Eric Fischl and Jerry Saltz

Sketchbook with Voices by Eric Fischl and Jerry Saltz – This collection of prompts from contemporary artists was compiled in 1986 by Fischl, an artist, and Saltz, an art critic.  The book was reprinted this year and I discovered it recently as I ambled through a museum gift shop.  Full of empty, ready-to-be-filled pages, this sketchbook includes inspirations from artists such as Richard Serra, Susan Rothenberg, and John Baldessari.

Mr. g by Alan Lightman

Mr. g by Alan Lightman – This is the forthcoming book from one of our department’s favorite authors!  Remember the recent post about Einstein’s Dreams?  We cannot wait for Lightman’s new book to come out in January, 2012.  Lightman, like Lehrer, is a scientist intrigued by the blurred and crossing boundaries of art and science. However, Lightman explores these ideas through novels and in Mr. g, the story of creation is told, as narrated by God.  Alan Lightman is also coming to Dallas next year!  On May 20, 2012 Lightman will be the featured author for Arts & Letters Live.

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites – This is a recent addition to my “books to read” list.  I heard about it the other day on the radio and love the curious story behind the book.  In pursuit of wanting to know more about where things come from, Thomas Thwaites decided to build a toaster from scratch….

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Community Connection: Accumulation Project

What’s 2,490 feet long, made of paper, and on view at the DMA?  Hint: visit the current Community Partner Response Installation titled Accumulation Project, by Annette Lawrence, Professor of Drawing and Painting at UNT.  Over eleven months, visitors of all ages contributed to Accumulation Project during workshops led by Annette during her time as a C3 Visiting Artist.  She also invited staff from various DMA departments to help with the installation in the days leading up to its unveiling.

Do you typically invite people to help you install your work?

In different contexts, I have students or volunteers or preparators or whoever works at the gallery, museum, etc. help with installation.  I work more often with staff than with the public. For the DMA, part of the project was with the public, during workshops for people of all ages.  Often, the adults were more interested in the idea of creating a long line of paper than the children were.  Some kids got into it, depending on their personality.  At the time of installation, we were in a time crunch and invited DMA staff to help, and I was really happy with the response.  It was a pleasure working with everyone, and it seemed like it gave folks a break from their regular work. There was a great energy about pitching in.  Once everyone was there, the installation was finished quickly.

The help of other people can cut the installation time in half.  At the MFA Houston Glassell School of Art, l had one guy working with me consistently, and people coming in and out through the day to install Theory.  That took us six days.  Usually when someone starts working with me, they start to own the piece: they’re committed and want to see it finished.  In this case, my helper wasn’t an artist; he was the maintenance guy, and he had time to help.

Theory, Annette Lawrence, 2003, installation at the Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX

What do you enjoy about teaching college students?

Mainly, I enjoy the process of discovering things with them.  It depends on the level of class.  In beginning classes, students are introduced to materials and are figuring out how to use them.  After that, students pursue things that interest them, and I point them towards resources.  I often find I am learning with them as they explore different processes.  Lately, there has mostly been more interest in paint than anything else, but at times it veers off in other directions like installation work or sound.  Photography has also been incorporated into work as well as lots of mixed media while students are finding their own way.

You spoke at the DMA earlier this year about your work at Cowboys Stadium.  What was your initial reaction to the request for a commissioned work of art at the Stadium?

Lisa Brown of Dunn and Brown Contemporary loaded the conversation with artists who had already said yes – Mel Bochner, Laurence Weiner, Matthew Ritchie and Olafur Eliasson – she was kind of setting me up.  I said “Oh well, OK I guess I’ll do it.”  I studied Mel Bochner and Lawrence Weiner as an undergraduate student, and I was pretty excited about being in a collection that they were in.  Meeting them in real life – in the context of a celebration for the Cowboys Stadium Art Program – I could not have imagined that.

It was an odd request; a contemporary art collection at a professional sports stadium had not been done before.  I wasn’t opposed.  I was excited and interested in seeing the work happen, but it is a little bit ironic considering my interest in sports (or lack thereof) that the one permanent installation of my work is in a football stadium.

I designed the piece based on the space I was given, one of the main entryways.  In the interest of relating the piece to football, I looked up a glossary of football terms on Google.  As soon as I saw the words “Coin Toss”, I knew it was the right title.  It just fit, beyond the shape of the piece – a circle moving in space – but it also goes with the start of game, and the artwork’s placement in the entryway.  The Jones’s response to the title was so positive, and it was part of the enthusiasm for the work.

Coin Toss, Annette Lawrence, 2009, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington TX

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Look at other people’s creations, mostly.  Looking at art, films, theater, dance, music, and all the arts take up most of my time.  Visiting friends and family is high priority, where we often talk about art.  If it’s with friends, we generally have art conversations.  With family, it can be anything.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Just visiting and being with good friends and family. I’m not interested in Christmas hype, but I like how things slow down a little bit and everyone is observing that this is time to spend with people you care about.  I alternate between doing Christmas or not doing Christmas.  This is a not year – we’re just not really doing it.  We’ll probably send out greetings to friends and families around New Year’s – after Christmas.  Last year, we sent a fun video, so we’re thinking about what we will do this year.  Whatever we send will be homemade.

Installing at Cowboys Stadium

Accumulation Project is on view in the Center for Creative Connections through May 2012.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

The McDermott Intern Class of 2011–2012

Left to right: Jessica Kennedy, Vivian Barclay, Hannah Burney, Wendy Earle, Lexie Ettinger, Melissa Barry, Andrew Sears and Mary Jordan

Each year, the Dallas Museum of Art welcomes a new class of McDermott interns into the family.  Throughout the history of the program our interns have been outstanding, intelligent students with interests spanning the full range of art-related interests. This year’s group is no exception. Of the eight interns, five hold master’s degrees while the other three have earned their BA and plan to pursue advanced degrees. Their interests range from Medieval and Contemporary Art to Art Education and Museum Programming. As you will learn, their talents and interests extend beyond Art and Art History!

Vivian Barclay is the Graduate Curatorial Intern for Decorative Arts and Design. She holds a B.A. in Art and Performance for University of Texas at Dallas and a M.A in Art History from Texas Christian University. Vivian was born and raised in Valencia,Venezuela.

Melissa Barry is the Graduate Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art. She received her B.A. in Art History and Business Administration from Baylor University and her M.A in Art History from Texas Christian University. She can also sign to R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly.

Wendy Earle is the Graduate Curatorial Intern for the Arts of the Americas and the Pacific. She earned her B.A in Art History from the University of Michigan and her M.A. in Art History from the University of Texas. She has piloted a plane.

Andrew Sears is the Curatorial Intern for European and American Art. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A in Art History. He has never been to a zoo–a fact his fellow interns plan to help him remedy this year.

Hannah Burney is a Teaching Programs intern. She will work primarily with Go van Gogh and other outreach programs. She spent part of her childhood in South  Korea.

Lexie Ettinger is the Education Intern for Adult Programming. She majored in Art History, and minored in Political Science at the University  of Arizona. Currently she is pursuing her M.A at the University of North Texas. Her family dogs’ names are Cinnamon and Sugar, and Sugar has her own Face book page.

Mary Jordan is the Education Intern for Family Experiences. She holds a B.A from Indiana University and a M.A from Johns Hopkins in Medical and Biological Illustration and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Art Museum Education at the University of North Texas. In her “first” career as a medial illustrator, she often sketched in the operating room, directly from surgery. One of the most interesting was a cardiac bypass surgery.

Jessica Kennedy interns in the DMA’s Teaching Programs assisting with docents and gallery programs. She holds a M.A in History with a concentration in Museum Studies and a B.A. in Art History form the University of Missouri in St. Louis. The first name of each member of her immediate family starts with the letter J. Therefore she will answer to any “J” name.

The next time you are in the museum don’t be surprised if you find one of them leading a gallery talk, helping with Late Nights or instructing your child in the Center for Creative Connections. Also, in the coming months, check Uncrated to read their contributions to this blog.

The Dallas Museum of Art offers nine-month paid internship positions in the Education and Curatorial Divisions. These internships are intended for those individuals who wish to explore a career in museum work. For more information, or to apply for the 2012-2013 McDermott Internship program, visit our website. Applications will be available in January 2012.

Martha MacLeod is Curatorial Administrative Assistant for European and American Art and manages the McDermott Interns

Friday Photos: Art & Fashion Teacher Workshop

Last Saturday, eleven teachers joined us for the Art & Fashion teacher workshop.  Teachers spent two hours in The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, and it was great to have the exhibition all to ourselves (the Museum wasn’t open to the public yet)!  We also spent time discussing fashion in our Colonial American galleries, as well as the exhibition African Headwear: Beyond Fashion.  I would have to say that the highlight of the day for me was a visit to the costume shop at the Wyly Theater.  Christie Vela, who not only works at the Dallas Theater Center but is also an actress and freelance costume designer, shared the secrets of how a costume goes from an idea to a garment on stage.  Below are photos from our day-long look at art & fashion.

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Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Gift Giving in the Galleries

Now that we have entered the month of December, we are officially in the midst of the holiday season.  No matter your traditions, chances are that in one way or another, the spirit of gift giving is included in your holiday ritual. With that in mind, I want to take a look at a few works of art within the DMA’s collection that are related to the idea of gift giving.
One of my favorite examples is the Kneeling female figure with bowl (olumeye). The Yoruba people traditionally offer kola nuts to guests as a form of hospitality as well as to deities during religious worship. Often the nuts are presented in gourds, but in very prestigious homes or palaces they would be contained in finely carved bowls such as this one. The word “olumeye” is in reference to the kneeling female and it means “she who brings honor.” I would be particularly honored to partake in the kola nuts because of their high caffeine content – I have a lot of holiday baking to get through!

Kneeling female figure with bowl (olumeye), Olowe of Ise, Yoruba peoples, c. 1910 to c. 1918, Effon-Alaiye, Ekiti region,Nigeria Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Another great instance of gift bearing is the Relief of a procession of offering bearers from the tomb of Ny-Ank-Nesut. This limestone relief was a part of Ny-Ank-Nesut’s tomb and it depicts a group of servants bringing various items for their master to have in the Afterlife. Ancient Egyptians believed that once they died, they would have the opportunity to pass into an Underworld, which was something like a perfect version of the life that they had lived on earth. So, of course, one would need to have all of the necessities buried with them. These men are offering items for a wonderful feast such as bread, cakes, geese, birds, papyrus sheaves, bowls of lotus flowers, a hedgehog in a cage (not sure if this was given as food or a companion), and vessels for drink offerings. Sounds like the makings of a great party to me.

Relief of a procession of offering bearers from the tomb of Ny-Ank-Nesut,Old Kingdom, 2575-2134 BC, Saqqara, Egypt, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund

An illustration of a thank-you gift can be found in Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea. This sculpture depicts the warrior Takenouchi, a popular hero in Japanese folklore, who dreamed that he was called to destroy a terrible sea monster that was ravaging the waters and everything that lived in it. Once Takenouchi defeated the monster, the Dragon King of the Sea Ryujin, emerged from the deep and presented a precious jewel in recognition of the valiant mission. This particular gift was not only beautiful, but it also promised Takenouchi control of the seas.

Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea, Meiji period (1868-1912), 1875-1879, Japan, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young

While gift giving is supposed to be selfless, we sometimes come bearing gifts knowing full well that we are going to get something in return. That is the case in this mosaic of Achilles at the Court of King Lycomedes. The legend says that young Achilles was sent by his mother to live at the court of Lycomedes. He was disguised as a girl in order to avoid being  killed as a Greek soldier and leaving the prophesy of his death unfulfilled. Unfortunately, Odysseus, the powerful Greek leader, had other plans. He concealed himself as a peddler and brought a bag of trinkets as gifts for the girls of the court. He had hidden weapons in the bottom of the bag so that when Achilles grabbed them, he revealed himself as a man. He was swept away to fight in the war and ultimately killed. A dangerous gift, indeed.

Achilles at the Court of King Lycomedes, Late Roman; Byzantine, 4th to 5th century A.D., Anonymous lender

Sometimes the items that hold the gifts are just as beautiful as the gifts themselves. Two examples of this are the Hexagonal dish for offerings from Indonesia and the ancient Greek Red-figure patera with Atlas handle. Both of these objects were made to hold offerings. The patera was specifically made to hold liquid offerings to the deceased, and has an image of a woman holding a similar object in her hand. These lovely works of art remind us that presentation is everything.

Hexagonal dish for offerings, 19th Century, Southeast Moluccas, Indonesia, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Nasher Foundation in honor of Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher

Red-figure patera with Atlas handle, Attributed to the Painter of Louvre, Greek or South Italian; Apulian, last third of4th century B.C., Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Junior Associates

Remember that it is always better to give than to receive. Enjoy the gift-giving season!

Jessica Kennedy

McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching

A White Wonderland at the DMA

Francis Guy, "Winter Scene in Brooklyn," c. 1817-20, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2008.23.McD

We are getting into the spirit of the holiday season here at the DMA and in the Dallas Arts District , and we would like to invite you to the Museum for some great holiday shopping and fun holiday entertainment.

And while you are here, be sure to visit the galleries and try to spot all of our white and wintry works of art. Here are a few to get you started:

Level 4

"Veryround" chair, Louise Campbell, designer, Zanotta, Italy, maker, designed 2006, steel with enamel, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2008.49

Anne Whitney, "Lady Godiva," c. 1861-64, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the Massachusetts-backyard whereabouts of this long-forgotten statue and brought it to Dallas, 2011.8


Level 3

Door with human figure, Indonesia, South Sulawesi, Sa'dan Toraja people, 18th or 19th century, wood, Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of the Eugene McDermott Foundation

Auguste Rodin, "The Poet and the Contemplative Life," 1896, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.64

Level 2

Ben Nicholson, "White Relief," 1936, oil on carved board, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, 1963.77.FA

Gustave Courbet, "Fox in the Snow," 1860, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 1979.7.FA

Barbara Hepworth, "Contrapuntal Forms (Mycenae)," 1965, marble and teakwood, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark, 1971.94


Level 1

Installation view of "Encountering Space" at the Dallas Museum of Art

And visit the exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk on Level 1 to see white used in fashion:

Lady Gaga wearing Jean Paul Gaultier, "Flare Magazine," 2009, © Max Abadian

Craig McDean, "Untitled (Maggie Rizer)," "Vogue" (U.S.), October 2002, "The Hussars" collection, "La Mariée" wedding gown, fall-winter 2002–2003, © Craig McDean/Art + Commerce

Visit the Museum Store in person or online at for unusual gifts to give this holiday season. And be sure to join us for two exciting holiday performances when The Barefoot Brigade presents their annual The NOTcracker dance performance on December 17 and on December 18 Undermain Theater presents a reading of the classic Dylan Thomas poem A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Have a fun and safe holiday season and we hope to see you and your family at the Museum!

Wendi Kavanaugh is the Member Outreach Manager at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Stacey Lizotte is the Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the Dallas Museum of Art.

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