Archive for January, 2012

Community Connection: STEAM, not STEM

Meet Nicholas Okafor, a high school senior with big ideas about the future of education and organizer of the upcoming STEAM Through Education Festival at Townview Magnet Center.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a senior at TAG Townview. I like TAG because it is more liberal in comparison to other magnet schools. TAG shows you different careers and exposes you to different subjects, as opposed to having a concentration or focused view on your education. You gain a broader sense of careers to choose from.

Nicholas Okafor

How did you get involved in organizing this festival?
It started last year, when I was a junior. I applied to the Bezos Scholars Program @ The Aspen Institute. The Scholars Program funds a trip for twelve juniors nationwide, with accompanying educators, to the Aspen Ideas Festival. I heard a speaker from the Rhode Island School of Design speak about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics), and how he saw it as the future of education. The Scholars Program encourages the students to come back and hold Local Ideas Festivals about a topic they feel needs to be addressed in their community.

What do you hope to achieve with the festival? What can participants expect?
I hope to broaden the minds of my community. What I’ve seen is a constant push toward STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), with the arts being ignored. What I want to do is show my community that you shouldn’t focus on one or the other, but instead incorporate both into STEAM. So many times in history these ideas have blended together: the Renaissance is a perfect example of that.

For this festival, we want to break any previous misconceptions that art and STEM cannot be mixed. We want to show how art can be implemented through science for students, parents, and educators. There will be a short presentation at the beginning, followed by a keynote speaker. The senior class is sponsoring a donation lunch, then participants will go into breakout sessions for students, parents, and educators. The student session is geared at breaking misconceptions and opening their eyes to STEAM careers. The educator session is geared at teachers working together to show how they can implement art in their curriculum. The parent session shows why STEAM is important for the child, as well as STEAM activities their child may be able to participate in.

Do you do anything creative?
Since I started high school, I’ve been very active in theater, and I’m currently President of the International Thespian Society. My two passions are theater and physics. Even with that, I can see STEAM there; not only are there physical aspects of theater such as lighting and stage, but there is the theatricality of physics and how you can take a simple motion and turn it into a very complex, inside-out problem.

Nicholas and friends from TAG Townview's fall 2011 production Reduced Shakespeare

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I’m still trying to figure that out. At the moment, I’m focused on college. I’ve been accepted to Texas A&M and MIT, and I’m waiting for a few others to respond. I definitely want to study Engineering for my Bachelor’s degree, and hopefully double major in something like Design, which could help me explore engineering further. Just the other day in Psychology, I learned about functional fixedness, when we no longer see objects for what they are. For example, we see a coffee can, but we can also see that it can be so many different things. Studying Design with Engineering could have the same impact on me.

One concept stressed in the Aspen Ideas Festival is the path of the social entrepreneur.  A social entrepreneur finds a problem in the community or on a global level and tries to address it. By combining Engineering and Design, I can help address problems. Hopefully, I’ll be helping people in ten years, whether in my town or across the globe.

The STEAM Through Education Festival takes place February 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Townview Magnet Center, 1201 E. 8th Street, Dallas, 75203.  For more information or to register, please visit the festival web site or contact Nicholas at

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Celebrating a Grand Tradition: 20 Years of Silver Supper

On Friday, January 27, more than one hundred guests will gather at the Dallas Museum of Art for the 20th Anniversary Silver Supper, an extraordinary affair celebrating the Museum’s collection of silver treasures. In anticipation of this special evening, sponsored this year by Highland Park Village and chaired by Peggy Sewell, here are a few “fun facts” about the history of Silver Supper:

1. The concept for Silver Supper evolved from legendary collectors and generous DMA donors Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle, who used their remarkable silver collection to entertain guests many decades ago.

2. In 1987 the Hoblitzelle Foundation donated much of this silver collection to the DMA. Since then, Silver Supper has raised more than $1 million to benefit the DMA’s Decorative Arts Acquisition Endowment Fund.

3. The first Silver Supper, held in 1988, welcomed just eighteen guests and raised $7,000.

4. Past Silver Supper themes have ranged from formal 18th-century-style English dining to life in the art deco world of the Roaring Twenties. The centerpiece (and dessert!) for the 1998 event, chaired by Jessie Price, was a larger-than-life cake shaped like the Palace of Versailles.

Silver Supper certainly has come a long way in the last twenty years! This year’s event, themed The Great Makers of American Silver, will showcase an extensive display of silver treasures at the DMA, from the opulence of the Gilded Age to the most progressive work of the last century. Below are a few photos from the January 10 pre-event cocktail reception at the Carolina Herrera store in Highland Park Village.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Late Night Diva-Off

Last Friday, the Museum packed in a very full house for the Late Night celebration of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. The night’s special event, Divas of Gaultier Costume Contest, was kicked off with a fabulous Madonna tribute performance by Chris America, who got the festive audience singing and dancing. The competition featured eleven Madonna contestants and twenty Lady Gagas who put together creative and outrageous Diva ensembles. But they weren’t the only ones! Many of the visitors also took the opportunity to wear fashion from the wilder side of their wardrobe. After each contestant modeled his or her outfit, the finalists were revealed. The victors included Lady Gaga holding a teacup, as well  as a real-life mother-daughter pair stylishly dressed as Madonna and her daughter Lourdes. To wrap up the event, Chris America reappeared to award the grand prize of a hundred dollar gift certificate for the Museum store and a Jean Paul Gaultier catalogue to the winner, Lady Gaga. With her slow and deliberate strut, and edgy animalistic poses, this fierce contestant truly embodied Lady Gaga herself.

Photos from this fun and fashion-filled Friday are below, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!

If you were to dress up for a Diva contest, who would you want to be and what would you wear? Please share your response in the comments below.

Hannah Burney
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Teaching for Creativity: Boundaries, Rearranging, Persistence, and Creativity

One goal for the Teaching for Creativity series is to present the voice of other educators who can share insights and approaches to teaching that nurture creative behavior.  Let me introduce you to Susan Stein, art teacher at Temple Emanu-El Preschool in Dallas, Texas and participant during the DMA’s 2011 Summer Seminar.  Susan shares with us a sculpture exercise that supports the development of persistence and innovation in her young students.

There are five different shaped pieces of wood in front of each child.

“Can we trade pieces?” No.

“Can I have more pieces?” No.

“Can I just use some of the pieces?” No, you need to use all five pieces.

What’s with all the “no’s”? Isn’t creativity about making your own rules, about not staying in the lines, about “yes”? As it turns out, some measure of boundaries actually promotes creativity through problem solving. When every option is available, we have too many choices, and this often causes us to go off our path. When there are some rules, as is mirrored in life, we feel we have someplace to begin, a structure to hang onto, and can more readily achieve our goals. Without rules you get chaos, with too many rules you get dictatorship. Guidance with flexibility is the key.

One of Susan's students works on a sculpture

The children arrange their pieces into sculptures without gluing anything together. A few children do their first sculpture in five seconds and announce that they are done. I nonchalantly knock their sculpture down and tell them to arrange a new sculpture in a different way. I don’t want them to get attached to their first idea. I look for each child to rearrange at least ten times. The more times they create arrangements, the more chances they take, and the more creative they get. They will eventually try placing big pieces on top of little ones, tilting pieces, and placing pieces to span a gap between two others. It is fascinating to observe!

Rearranging the same elements also lets you see the problem from different perspectives and in the process create new solutions. An example of this happens when you rearrange your Scrabble tiles and a word “magically” comes to you.

This process of rearranging again and again creates persistence. All innovative people cultivate persistence. You have to be willing to experiment with many ideas in order to find the ones that work best. Thomas Edison tried over three thousand filaments for his light bulb before he found even one that worked well.

After about fifteen minutes I announce that when they have an arrangement they are happy with, they can glue the pieces together. They are anxious to do so!

Many thanks to Susan for contributing to this blog and the dialogue about creativity.  You can contact Susan at for more information about this exercise and workshops that she conducts.

Read about another preschool classroom in the August 2011 Teaching for Creativity post by Shadan Price.  What is happening in your learning environment?  Share your ideas and experiences with us.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Off the Wall: Garbage Disposal

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

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!

Docent Spotlight: They're Cousins…

It has been a while since we have featured an interview with one of our docents on the Educator Blog.  Today, I’m turning the spotlight on not one, but three of our fabulous docents.  Why three docents?  Because they’re cousins (I have the Patty Duke Show theme song running through my head as I write this) who have turned the DMA docent program into a family affair.

Meet Genie Bentley, Linda Rayes, and Harriet Stoneham.  Genie and Linda have been docents for many years, but Harriet is a member of our New Docent class this year.  Below, they share their thoughts and memories of being a DMA docent.

Genie Bentley, Harriet Stoneham, and Linda Rayes--DMA Docents and Cousins

How long have you been a DMA docent?
Genie: I have been a docent since Fall 1988 (We trained for two years at that point).
Linda: I have been leading school tours for seventeen years.
Harriet: I am a docent-in-training.

Why did you become a docent?
Genie: My sons were leaving the nest and I wanted to do something that was really hard–I found it!
Linda: A friend and former docent suggested that I might enjoy the program.
Harriet: I have wanted to become a docent for a very long time and finally gave myself permission to apply.

Tell me about your experience in the docent program.
Genie: It is my favorite activity with my favorite people–the best part of my life.
Linda: Most of my tours have been some of the most fun and rewarding hours of my life.  Interacting with young students often challenges me to come up with analogies from pop culture to help them relate to unfamiliar objects.  I love hearing about the children’s lives, their families, and even their pets!  Young viewers are always more uninhibited, and therefore, more fun to interact with.
Harriet: I have thoroughly enjoyed every training session thus far.  The lectures are wonderful and getting to meet so many people that share my interest in art has been very satisfying.

What is your favorite work of art in the DMA collection?
Genie: My favorite work of art is the one that I am talking about on a tour.  I could not limit myself to one piece–I have learned to LOVE so many cultures and styles.
Linda: It’s a toss up between the Lokapalas and the Vlaminck in the Reves collection.
Harriet: I love learning about all the art that I have been exposed to thus far.

Share your best tour experience.
Genie: The best tours are ones that kids exclaim “Is it already over? I thought this would be boring, but it was fun.”
Linda: That would be the next tour!
Harriet: I have loved observing both Genie’s and Linda’s tours.  I am so impressed with the number of docents who have been involved with the program for many, many years. [Author’s note: Harriet has not yet given a tour, but has observed many A Looking Journey tours as part of her training.]

Docents Genie Bentley (in white) and Linda Rayes (holding a doll) even went to school together when they were younger

Genie, Linda, and Harriet have all said that being a part of the docent program is one of their favorite activities, and reading their responses affirms their passion for art and their commitment to the DMA and our docent program.*  I feel very fortunate that I know these three docents, and hopefully you have had the pleasure of spending time with them in the galleries.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

*If you have a passion for art and would like to learn more about volunteering at the DMA, visit our Web site.

The day we shot J.R., and the rest of the Ewing clan

There has been a lot of attention in Dallas on the filming of the television remake of Dallas, and the DMA is joining in on the fun. Sue Ellen Ewing, or as some of you may know her, Linda Gray, has visited The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier three times already (be sure to see the exhibition before it closes on February 12). It sparked our memory of a previous visit the Dallas cast made to the Museum when they visited our Wendy and Emery Reves Collection in 1986. Below are a few images we pulled from the archives.

Hillary Bober is the Digital Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.
Kimberly Daniell is the Public Relations Specialist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,607 other followers


Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream