Archive for April, 2012

Seldom Scene: Installing Form/Unformed

A look back at the installation of Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present, the first comprehensive overview of our modern and contemporary design collections, on view in the Tower Gallery. Work in the gallery began in October 2010 for the Decemeber 19, 2010 opening. Below are a few shots of the installation process.

DMA exhibition staff, including preparators John Lendvay and Lance Lander and exhibitions graphic designer Kevin Parmer, install the newly opened Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present in the Level 4 Tower Gallery.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, DMA Marketing Assistant.

 

 

Friday Photos: Young Philanthropists

Earlier this spring, we were delighted to learn the DMA was selected to receive a donation through Episcopal School of Dallas’s philanthropy program.  Thanks to a generous gift made to The Dallas Foundation by Mr. and Mrs. J. Puckett, the Giving Beyond Ourselves program was formed with the goal of helping students to develop a philosophy of financial giving that would complement their experiences of volunteering their time for community service.  In the Giving Beyond Ourselves program, the junior class participates in advisory groups who research and select non-profit organizations they wish to support financially.  The DMA is honored to be one of this year’s recipients, along with Children’s Medical Center, Genesis Women’s Shelter, Operation KindnessMi Escuelita Preschool, American Red Cross, and Ronald McDonald House of Dallas.

The advisory group who selected the DMA came to the Museum for a two-hour visit, which included a staff-led walkthrough of various galleries and exhibitions and a special behind-the-scenes tour of our art storage space.  The students asked thoughtful questions about the DMA’s mission, annual budget, educational programs, and accessibility to diverse audiences.

We extend a BIG thank you to ESD students Blake Archer, Michael Collins, Amanda Eggers, Asia Hawkins, Wilson Miller, Reed Seidel, Sarah Spellings, Catharine Turner, and Tristan Whitcher; their advisor Mrs. Barbara Sampson; and Community Service Director Christi Morrow for selecting the DMA!

Director of Collections Management Gabriela Truly (on the right) talks to the group about one of the DMA's art storage spaces.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Facing Off

Our exhibition Face to Face: International Art at the DMA is composed of never before seen pairs of objects drawn straight from the Museum’s collection. They are joined across cultures, great distances, and centuries of time to present an entirely new way to experience and celebrate a collection that is thrillingly diverse and over one hundred years in the making.

David Smith’s Cubi XVII and Aristide Maillol’s Flora

Organizing Face to Face required the collaboration of every member of our curatorial staff. Dr. Anne Bromberg, our curator of Ancient and Asian Art, spearheaded its sprawling course, spending weeks and weeks stalking the galleries, storage areas, and even her own colleagues to negotiate across departmental divides and ensure that what came to fruition was groundbreaking.

The result is a rare chance to see some of our “greatest hits” in lively and entirely new contexts. Visitors are welcome to speculate for themselves upon the many ways paired works might be related. I expect there are no right or wrong answers to these investigations, and that the discoveries one can have touring Face to Face are essentially limitless.

Peruvian Panel and Ellsworth Kelly’s Sanary

This is the first pair to welcome you to the exhibition. The composition of both works relied upon geometry and the stunning experience of pure color. The ceremonial textile from the Huari culture of Peru is beautifully composed of hundreds of blue and yellow macaw feathers—the yellow offering soft complement to the naturally iridescent shimmering of the blue.

Sanary, by American artist Ellsworth Kelly, presents a more complex pattern created from recycled paintings. No two colored squares repeat side by side, and like the feather panel, their summation elicits an explosive though carefully controlled punch of pure color. Their paired visual impact must be seen to be believed.

Egyptian mummy mask and Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of a Young Woman

Of all the pairings, Dr. Bromberg has said this one raised the most eyebrows among her colleagues, but after placing them side by side for the first time during installation, it became clear that though derived from wholly different civilizations and made for completely different purposes, they were easily relatable as unique expressions of the very human desire to immortalize beauty through portraiture.

Male figure from Nigeria and Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2

There’s much to be learned—things you may never have noticed before until you’re faced with this unique installation. This pair in particular enables audiences to reflect upon decisions the artists made in depicting their subjects abstractly. One might spend hours ruminating over their own visceral reactions to their striking features.

Eugène Delacroix’s Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban and Standing femail figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Our Exhibition Design Coordinator, Jessica Harden, worked closely with Dr. Bromberg to create specific lighting, color, and spatial treatments for every pair in Face to Face. Its dynamic installation highlights the need to take one’s time in the exhibition. Here each artwork can be appreciated more intimately on its own terms.

This is particularly true with the pairing of Eugène Delacroix’s Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban and the standing female figure from the Luba peoples of Africa. Lengthy meditations over the artists distinct but relatable choices in depicting their subject’s tranquil and quintessentially feminine beauty are highly encouraged.

An entire case in Face to Face is dedicated to things that sparkle! And here it’s true that not all that glitters is literally gold. The DMA maintains a strong collection of decorative, functional, and ceremonial objects fashioned from precious materials by a variety of cultures for an even greater variety of reasons.

Shiva Nataraja from India and The Dharmapala Vajrabhairava from Tibet

Face to Face’s broad representation (albeit in a small space) of the DMA’s expansive, internationally renowned collection is inspiring. The exhibition not only draws our attention to the mysterious nature of creating and studying art but also to that lesser realized art form of building a collection.

While exploring any museum, it’s easy to forget that a collection is built by people, and at the DMA these people have for over a century now nursed a vision that not only tells the history of art but also the story of our great museum.

Auriel Garza is the Curatorial Assistant for Ancient Art, Non-Western Art, and Decorative Arts & Design at the Dallas Museum of Art.

An Evening with David Sedaris

If you’ve ever read any of the eight books by David Sedaris, you probably already consider him a close and personal friend. Through his witty short stories, he seamlessly weaves back and forth between autobiography and absurdist fiction, having the reader laughing and gasping at each turn of the page. He effortlessly wraps you up in his world, introducing you to his quirky family, and keeping you on the inside of every joke. So, it came as no surprise that he was just as enthralling and humorous in person as he is in his books.

This was David Sedaris’ fourth year coming to Dallas with Arts & Letters Live, and yet the 2,500 seat SMU Auditorium was still completely sold out. After several readings and a question and answer session, many hurried to get their place in line to meet David. I say meet, because David Sedaris does not just sign books, he has a conversation with each person who approaches his table as if welcoming them into his home. Despite this taking hours, going very late into the night, Sedaris maintains his energy and enthusiasm for each and every fan.  He uses his comedic flare to start unusual conversations with each visitor, and then references the encounter in the book he signs for them. With a drawing or clever comment, Sedaris turns a brief interaction into a special inside joke between the fan and him.

In my case, I was so excited to see him that I ran out the door without either of my two favorite books that I wanted him to sign. Fortunately with a simple explanation, he was more than happy to sign the program for me instead, writing, “Oh Hannah you forget everything”. So, just like many of the fans in line, I got to walk away with my very own personal story of David Sedaris.

Don’t miss out on the rest of this Arts & Letters Live season!

If you have any stories from an Arts & Letters Live event, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments below.

Hannah Burney
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Staff Spotlight: Mary Nangah

Mary Nangah wears many hats.  She is an artist, a student, and an aspiring chef.  She is also the DMA’s part-time Community Teaching Assistant.  Mary’s hard work behind-the-scenes helps make Go van Gogh visits and community outreach events happen.  Here, Mary tells us more about her role at the Museum.

Mary Nangah

Describe your job here at the Museum:

I work primarily with Go van Gogh,  and my main duties involve planning and prepping supplies for volunteers to take into the classroom.  I also help with any upcoming projects that may arise, such as reviewing the DMA Connect website and helping with the Dallas International Film Festival‘s High School Day.  I also assist Melissa with Go van Gogh volunteer training.

Could you trace the path that has brought you to the DMA?

It was the summer of 2011, and I was interning at the Rachofsky House during the Museum Forum for Teachers.  I met Melissa  during that week, and she thought I was awesome because I helped her during an art-making activity.  And she must have thought to herself, “Hmm, Mary would really be a good fit for the Go van Gogh program.”  So by the end of the week, Melissa and I exchanged contact information and she said she would keep me posted on internship opportunities at the DMA.  I started here as a part-time intern at the end of August.

What has been the most interesting aspect of your work here?

Well, besides checking out the food trucks, it has been interesting to see how much planning goes into the Go van Gogh program.  Every little step matters, from making sure the materials are prepared ahead of time, to packing the bags, to making sure the schools are reminded that volunteers are coming.  Each of those steps, which may seem small, all keep the program flowing smoothly.

The people I work with are an essential part of what makes my work here interesting.  Hannah and I work well together because we have an understanding of what needs to be done to keep things moving steadily forward.  With the larger department, there is a good amount of collaboration, teamwork, and encouragement.  And we have great lunches together, too!

How do you spend your time outside the Museum?

I enjoy watching CNN, the Food Network, and HGTV.  I also love cooking.  Oh, yeah, I am working on my PhD at the University of North Texas, too.  Hence, I do a lot of reading, thinking, and writing about art education.  Specifically, I am researching contemporary West African art.  My interest in this area comes from my background as a Cameroonian artist, as well as my interest in finding out about other contemporary West African artists.  The next step of my research is to travel to Ghana in the summer of 2012.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Well, I had better be done with my PhD and working at either a university or a museum/art center.  I’m leaning towards wanting to be a curator, but a curator who is attached to education because I think they’re connected.  As an art educator, I believe it’s important for me to create an environment where art can be experienced by and accessible to everyone.  Art education, for me, goes beyond the classroom and the museum and into every day happenings.  Art is for every day.

Mary Nangah, The Ultimate Leap, 2010, Oil on canvas

We have all enjoyed working with Mary over the past year and can’t wait to see where her poise, intellect, and excellent sense of humor take her in the future!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

All That Jazz

Friday, March 2nd Dallas Museum of Art members celebrated the Youth & Beauty: Art of the American Twenties in style. The evening included a 20’s themed costume contest, an introduction of the exhibition, dance lessons, and more! We thought we would share some of our favorite shots from the evening.

Show off your twenties outfits tonight at our Roaring Twenties Late Night!

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

Friday Photos: Art about Earth

Happy (almost) Earth Day! To celebrate the upcoming Earth Day on April 22nd, I’m highlighting some works in the DMA’s collection that give a special nod to our home planet.

  • Rufino Tamayo’s El Hombre (Man) was commissioned by the Dallas Art Association to celebrate the universality of the human condition. With legs resembling tree trunks rooted strongly in the ground, the figure suggests the inextricable tie between humans and Earth.

Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953

  • The Yup’ik peoples of Alaska’s western coast and adjacent islands created this mask. They understand their relationship with their maritime environment, particularly its sea creatures, as collaborative and reciprocal. Masked dances at seasonal festivals honor the animals hunted during the previous year.

Mask with seal or sea otter spirit, late 19th century

  • Flower consists of hanging, geometric shapes that move and oscillate with the wind. Alexander Calder explicitly stated that this work not only represents the earth, but also “the miles of gas above it, volcanoes upon it, and the moon making circles around it.”

Alexander Calder, Flower, 1949

  • This figure’s arms are outstretched in the shape of a boat, which peoples of the western islands of Southeast Moluccas related to creation, the founding of family and society, women, and a cosmic womb. She represents the founder-mother, or a kind of “Mother Earth.”

Altar depicting the first female ancestor (luli), 19th century

  • Often using the Earth as his medium, Robert Smithson transports earth into the gallery with a long pile of sand separated by mirrors, contrasting the organic and the man-made.

Robert Smithson, Mirrors and Shelly Sand, 1969-1970

Check out the educator resources of the Earth Day Network for some inspiration for incorporating environmental issues into your teaching, or celebrate Earth at the two-day Earth Day Dallas festival.

How do you increase awareness about and appreciate the Earth in your classroom? (We would love to hear about it!)

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Artworks shown:

  • Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association commission, Neiman-Marcus Company Exposition Funds
  • Mask with seal or sea otter spirit, late 19th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Elizabeth H. Penn
  • Alexander Calder, Flower, 1949, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Dallas Garden Club in honor of Mrs. Alex Camp
  • Altar depicting the first female ancestor (luli), 19th century, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.
  • Robert Smithson, Mirrors and Shelly Sand, 1969-1970, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of an anonymous donor; the Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation; an anonymous donor in memory of Vin Prothro and in honor of his cherished grandchildren, Lillian Lee Clark and Annabel Caren Clark; The Eugene McDermott Foundation; Dr. and Mrs. Mark L. Lemmon; American Consolidated Media; Bear/Hunter; and donors to the C. Vincent Prothro Memorial Fund

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