Archive for January, 2012

Educator Resources: The JASON Project

In this Educator Resource series, I would like to introduce The JASON Project.  My first experience with JASON was three years ago, when I was the education intern for the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, Kansas.  We had a week-long marathon of Argonauts come through the Museum (the name derives from the ancient Greek myth Jason and the Argonauts).  Ever since then, I have been focused on adding science components to my docent-guided tours.
What is The JASON Project?
The JASON Project is a science initiative founded by Dr. Robert Ballard, a renowned oceanographer, and is led by a team of scientists to provide students with hands-on, science-based experiences.  The standards-based curricula are divided into five different units, and are designed for grades 4th-10th.  Since the beginning of the project, over twelve million students and teachers have used JASON’s printable curriculum, including myself.  The best part about The JASON Project is that it’s completely free for educators.
How does The Jason Project apply to art teachers and the Museum?
The relationship between art and science dates back to antiquity and has provided our society with many great disciplines including architecture, engineering, communication design, and the visual arts.  Today, discovering art with a scientific lens can be easy, with the right tools, of course.  One of the best tools to connect art with science is The Jason Project.

One of my favorite units of The JASON Project is Operation: Tectonic Fury.  This geology-based unit provides an in-depth look into what makes Earth’s landscape unique: minerals and rocks.  The rock cycle can apply to many of the works of art in our Museum.

The properties of sedimentary rocks

For example, let’s look at Vishnu as Varaha.  This object is not only incredible for the heroic story that it illustrates, but also for the natural properties it possesses.  Vishnu as Varaha is made from sandstone, a sedimentary rock, which is formed when sand becomes compacted and lithified, a process where loose sediment becomes solid.

Vishnu as Varaha, India, 10th Century, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation and the Alconda-Owsley Foundation, E.E. Fogelson and Greer Garson Fogelson Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Wendover Fund, and gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen

Another unit that I reference while teaching in the galleries is Operation: Monster Storms.  This unit discusses the dynamic weather patterns and how those patterns can effect society.  Two divisions of this unit that are applicable to some objects in the Museum are wind and rain.  The water cycle is a great diagram that describes the evaporation and precipation process.

The water cycle

The discussion of rain can be applied to many different works of our in our collection, but my favorite one to use is A Mountain Landscape with an Approaching Storm.  This composition gracefully depicts a treachous storm approaching from the distance, spouting out rain and forceful wind.

A Mountain Landscape with an Approaching Storm, Joseph-Claude Vernet, 1775, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund

The JASON Project can be an invaluable resource when connecting science with art.  The organization provides us with teachable material, and a curriculum that we can continue to connect science with our own passion for the arts.  I hope these small examples provide inspiration for future collaborations with science and art!
Coordinator of Museum Visits

Friday Photos: Tatum Elementary and Mark Bradford

This past Wednesday, I visited fourth- and fifth-grade students in Tatum Elementary’s Afterschool Program.  We spent time thinking about our neighborhoods and making collages using assorted papers, twine, and glue.  We finished by looking at works of art by Mark Bradford and talking about the large-scale paintings that he created using similar materials, which often relate to his neighborhood in Los Angeles.

But, the program did not end there.  Last night, Tatum Elementary Afterschool students of all ages came to the Museum with their parents to see the Mark Bradford exhibition.  They also spent time adding to the collages they began the previous day, or making new collages.  Children and parents created their own work, or in many instances, collaborated on collages.  Check out their great work below:

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Coming Soon: Mark Manders

A new exhibition opens at the DMA this Sunday, and it’s one I’m looking forward to seeing in person.  Mark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments presents eighteen sculptures by the Dutch artist.    Manders is a poet-turned-artist, and his sculptures combine everyday objects (such as teabags and pencils) with items that he creates himself.  At first glance, you might assume that his sculptures are made with found objects.  In actuality, the busts, tables, and newspapers are objects that Manders constructs.  You can see a behind-the-scenes look at the installation of the exhibition on the DMA’s Uncrated blog.

Mark Manders, Anthropological Trophy, 2010. Courtesy of the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

Although the subject matter of the exhibition includes physical sculptures, there are also elements of archaeology, architecture, and literature that can be explored in Manders’s works.  One way that we are exploring these different themes is through a Thursday evening program called In Residence.  Every Thursday evening through the run of the exhibition (January 15-April 15, 2012), DMA staff members will be available in the exhibition to converse with visitors about Manders’s thought-provoking work and process.  On three of these Thursdays, a Perspectives series will be offered.  Perspectives will pair a DMA staff member in conversation with scholars from various fields to explore the different perspectives they can shed on the art of Mark Manders.  The Perspectives line-up includes:

  • February 9: Gregory Warden, archaeologist
  • March 22: Farid Matuk, poet
  • April 12: Mark Gunderson, architect

Mark Manders, Ramble-room Chair, 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

Teachers are encouraged to participate in the In Residence and Perspectives conversations to learn more about Mark Manders.  Remember: teachers receive free admission to the Museum on Thursday evenings when they show their school ID.  I also encourage you to visit Mark Manders’s Web site to explore his works of art and to read about them in his own words.

Mark Manders, Still Life with Books, Table and Fake Newspaper, 2010. Courtesy of the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

I also want to make you aware of the fact that Mark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments will be the only contemporary art on view at the Museum this spring.  Any teachers who request a “Contemporary Art” tour from January through April will be scheduled for a tour of this exhibition.  Please keep this in mind when scheduling your visits to the Museum.  I hope you and your students enjoy exploring and discussing the sculptures of Mark Manders!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Live from the Director’s Office

Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director, Dallas Museum of Art

I’m on Day Three at the DMA and feeling very much at home. Directors are always at home, because the job follows us there. In the case of the Dallas Museum of Art, it’s great fun to get to know so many new people in such a short time, and to absorb the rhythms of a venerable institution that is forever in the moment.

Unpacking a few hundred books and displaying a few souvenirs and personal photographs has already made my new office feel familiar—as does knowing that dear friends have worked in this office for many years before I showed up. The choices of how time is spent in the first few weeks are clear up to a point—lots of events and opportunities to connect with everyone from staff to visitors to donors and trustees to others throughout the Metroplex. The script not written is how to blend my experiences with the needs of the DMA, which will be a fresh and exciting challenge. My inner circle of staff is already learning about my foibles and tone, which I try to keep informal, fast-paced, laced with humor, and open to experiments that fail.

While I will return to this space from time to time, it’s probably easier to find me on Twitter (@MaxAndersonUSA), which demands haiku-like precision but slightly less time. Excited to see what happens on Day Four!

Maxwell Anderson is The Eugene McDermott Director at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Intern Project: Introduction to Me & My World

Me & My World is an hour-long education program for first graders. We offer it as a docent-guided tour as well as a Go van Gogh classroom experience. Both programs introduce students to artwork in our collection with:

Both programs give the first-graders an opportunity to create artwork to take home with them at the end of the museum visit or school day. The overall goal is to assist the students in looking carefully at various works of art and making personal connections to them.  Because the settings are different (Museum galleries vs. school classroom) the experiences with works of art vary. Here is an example for Mary Cassatt’s Sleepy Baby from Go van Gogh:

Sleepy Baby, Mary Cassatt c. 1910, pastel on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund

Clues: a piece of a pink blanket, a pacifier, and the arm gesture of rocking a baby

After a conversation about the mother and baby (“Have you ever held a baby? Do you have a baby brother or sister at home? Have you ever sat on someone’s lap? How did it feel?”) a brief poem is read aloud to the class:

Human Pillow
By Sondra Falck

A sleepy head lay yawning,
Quietly on my chest,
His little legs were tired,
Needing a bit of rest.

Little boy, face filled with dreams,
Of all he planned to do,
Games to play and trees to climb,
Before this day was through.

 Busy dreamer, sound asleep,
Had to find the softest lap,
To be his human pillow,
So he could take a nap.

As a class, we discuss connections between the poem and the work of art. Then, we create a poem of our own, by asking the students to finish the sentence “Babies are ___”. When completed, it will look something like this: 

Babies are _soft_.
Babies are ­­­_sweet_.
Babies are _loud_.
Babies are _smelly_.
Babies are _squishy_.
Babies are _sleepy_.

Here is an example of Romare Beardon’s Soul Three from the Docent Tour:

Soul Three, Romare Bearden, 1968, paper and fabric collage on board, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund and Roberta Coke Camp Fund

Soul Three, Romare Bearden, 1968, paper and fabric collage on board, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund and Roberta Coke Camp Fund


Clues: Detail of cloth from the collage, a foot tapping, and a tambourine

There are two themes that can be brought up during this conversation: one highlights what the students see in the painting (patterns, shapes, colors, figures) and the other explores the relationship of the people and the activity that they are participating in.

After this conversation, the students are encouraged to create a story about these three friends by considering the following prompts:

  • Give each of the gentlemen and the lady a name.
  • How did they meet each other?
  • What kind of music do they like to play?
  • Where are they playing their music?
  • Who is listening to them play? Are there other people around?
  • What happens when they stop playing their music?

The activity encourages the students to pose like one of the figures in the work of art and then choose one part of their body to move when the docent claps out a rhythm. Since we love working with children of all ages, we have decided to revise both of the Me &  My World programs as our McDermott Intern Project. We are still in the brainstorming stage, and we would love your help!

What are some of your favorite works of art from the DMA collection to use with young visitors? Has our collection inspired any fun activites that you use with your students? Tell us in the comments!

Jessica Kennedy & Hannah Burney
McDermott Interns for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Installing Mark Manders

Below is a look behind the exhibition doors at the installation process for the first major North American exhibition of work by acclaimed Dutch artist Mark Manders. Mark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments opens this Sunday, January 15.

Adam Gingrich is Marketing Administrative Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Friday Photos: Little Treasures

Did you know that we have 24,000 works of art in our collection?  And, did you know that only about 25% is displayed at one time?  That’s still a lot of art to look at.  My point is, who knows how many objects we skip over when we visit the Museum?

It’s hard not to miss the big stuff–who could walk by the Head of the rain god Tlaloc and not see its dominating face staring back at you? 

Head of the rain god Tlaloc, Mixtec culture, 1300-1500 A.D., gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus in memory of Mary Freiberg

Well, that’s what I mean.  It’s really easy to get caught up with objects the size of Texas, figuratively that is.  Next time you’re at the Museum, I challenge you to look at the small stuff.  Think of it as an art and seek.  You’ll be surprised with all the little treasures we have nestled in cases, scattered all about the Museum.    

Here are a few of my favorites:

Images used:

  • Whistle with head, 19th-20th century, Holo culture, Africa, The Clark and Frances Stillman Collection of the Congo, gift of Eugene and Margaret McDermott
  • The Singer, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, c.1924, American, bequest of Joel T. Howard
  • Amulets of the Sons of Horus, 332 B.C.-395 A.D., Egypt, gift of Susette Khayat
  • Pair of frontal panels from ear ornaments, 900-1100 A.D., Peru, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott
  • Two Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No.1, Henry Moore, c.1960, England,Foundation for the Arts Collection, bequest of Margaret Ann Bolinger
  • A River in Normandy, Richard Parkes Bonington, 1824-1825, England, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ward H. Reighley
  • Standing female figure, 14th-15th century, Indonesia, the Roberta Coke Camp Fund
  • 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Medal Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of General Motors, c. 1933, American, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation
  • Model of Bodhgaya temple, 10th century, India, gift of David T. Owsley via The Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation
  • Standing woman, first half of 6th century B.C., Greece, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark

Happy hunting,

Loryn Leonard
Coordinator of Museum Visits

Winter Break: Winter Fashion

How do you keep your hands warm when it’s cold?  For a girl who lives in Texas, I have many different methods: suede mittens, fleece gloves, and three variations of knit fingerless gloves/mittens/armwarmers.

I wouldn’t mind wearing something more fashionable, like these neighboring ladies in the European galleries.

Winter (Woman with a Muff), Berthe Morisot, 1880, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated

Portrait of Isabelle Lemonnier, Édouard Manet, c. 1879, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation Incorporated

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community


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