Archive for August, 2012



Teaching for Creativity: A Conversation Between Artworks

Have you read Shannon’s post about our gallery experience with ­­­Anytown, USA during Museum Forum for Teachers? After we imagined businesses, shops, and restaurants inspired by typography, we moved into a gallery in Variations on Theme with figural works of art. In this fun, creatively-charged gallery experience, we projected character traits and narratives onto the ambiguous figures.

To warm up, we created scribble characters and characterized one as a large group. Then, small groups of four or five people turned their attention to the artworks in the gallery. Each group chose two figures to explore and characterize. Then, each group wrote a short piece of dialogue between the two figures. To add a little challenge, each group randomly chose one line of dialogue to incorporate. Though it may seem counterintuitive, limitations within a lesson actually inspire more creativity than a completely open assignment.

These dialogue lines included:

  • What is that smell?
  • You are never going to believe what just happened…
  • I have never been so embarrassed.
  • No, I’m not kidding.
  • Tell me it isn’t permanent!
  • Did you get dressed in the dark?
  • Happy birthday!
  • I tried everything I could…
  • What’s on your face?
  • I heard it on TV…
  • I’m telling you…it won’t work.

Most of the groups’ conversations between artworks were light-hearted and humorous. However, each conversation was diverse with rich characterization. I really enjoy experiences when art-viewers combine what they see visually with their own experiences and ideas to create unique interpretations.

It would fun to tweak the creative twist for a classroom experience. Instead of incorporating a specific line of dialogue, try assigning the students a specific historical era or geographic location to research as a setting for a conversation between two artworks. Or, ask the students to create conversations between a figure in a work of art and a historical or literary figure. One of our Museum Forum participants suggested that students research artists and write hypothetical conversations based on what they discover of those artists.

What might a conversation look like between these two figures?

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

The Wise Llama

What do a llama and an urban planner have in common? Not much actually, but they did briefly share an office.

This photo depicts the day that Nora Wise brought Sir Lancelot, a pure white llama, wearing a textile from John Wise Ltd. around its neck, to the office of Robert Moses, New York City urban planner. Sadly, it is unknown why Nora took a llama to visit the urban planner, but it looks like he found the gesture quite amusing.

The image is from the John and Nora Wise Papers.

Update: Robert Moses was the President of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, so it makes more sense that he would be visited by Sir Lancelot, during the llama’s day at the Fair.

Hillary Bober is the Digital Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Friday Photos: Artistic Gymnastics

After two weeks of exciting competition, the London 2012 Summer Olympics will end this weekend with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday. Gymnastics was one of my favorite sports this year and Team USA’s Fierce Five certainly did not disappoint, bringing home five medals, three of them gold.

Five fierce artworks from our contemporary collection—interestingly enough, all Untitled—remind me of this graceful sport.

The vault:

Untitled, Franz Kline, 1959, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of George T. and Natalie H. (Schatzie) Lee

The balance beam:

Untitled, Nigel Hall, 1973, Dallas Museum of Art, Bryan Williams Fund

The uneven bars:

Untitled, Carlo Guaita, 1988, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. I. C. Deal

The floor exercise:

Untitled, Richard Anuszkiewicz, n.d, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan E. Boeckman

A gymnast in the midst of her routine:

Untitled, Joel Shapiro, 1981-1984, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Exxon Corporation

What artworks remind you of the Olympics?

If you’re not ready for the Olympic spirit to end just yet, you’ll want to get tickets for Arts & Letters Live on October 9. Chris Cleave will discuss his new novel Gold, which centers on two athletes at their last Olympic Games, London 2012.

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

Meet the DMA’s Teen Docents

The 2012-2013 DMA Teen Docents.

If you have spent any time at the DMA this summer, you may have noticed teenagers in gray DMA T-shirts leading groups through the galleries. These aren’t just any teenagers, though—they are our dedicated DMA Teen Docents. The Teen Docent program has been going strong since 2001, and this summer we have our largest group ever. Thirty-one high school students are spending their summer vacation at the Museum, and we are thrilled to have them with us.

Our Teen Docents come from across the Metroplex, attending school at TAG Townview Magnet, Episcopal School of Dallas, Ursuline Academy, Greenhill School, Fulton School, Plano West, Plano Senior High, Cedar Hill Collegiate High, Jasper High, Vines High, Lovejoy High, Mesquite High, and Lake Highlands High. We even have one volunteer who lives in Bryant, Texas, but is spending the summer in Dallas so she can be a Teen Docent. Talk about dedication!

Teen Docents Sahil and Jennifer look on as students re-create Fernand Leger’s “The Divers.”

The requirements to be a Teen Docent are simple: you have to be in high school, you must be available to volunteer for a total of twelve hours over the summer, and you have to love talking about art with kids. Our Teen Docent application asks what our applicants hope to gain from their experience volunteering at the Museum. Their answers always astound me because their passion and excitement shine through. Here are just a few of their responses:

  • “I have always loved the DMA since the very first time I went in third grade, and I am SUPER excited to be a Teen Docent!”—Grace
  • “I want to be a Teen Docent so I can be the catalyst for learning in the Museum. I can rise to the challenge of engaging diverse audiences in creative ways. I can be the bridge between visitors and the Museum.”—Sahil
  • “I have grown up surrounding myself with art, with my first art class at age five. Ever since, I have gained a passion for art and to share this with other people would be great!”—Vickie
  • “I love having the opportunity to be at the DMA and get kids interested not just in art but simply looking at things in a different way and thinking about the world around them.”—Becky
  • “I really have a great time volunteering at the DMA. It’s one of my favorite places in Dallas and I love learning about the art and sharing that knowledge with future art enthusiasts!”—Sarah

Not only are the Teen Docents passionate, but they’re also really creative. Just look at what they made during a Creativity Challenge in June.

Teen Docent Jasmine helps a visitor write a postcard.

As the summer comes to a close, I want to publicly thank our Teen Docents for their hours of service to the DMA this year. Between leading tours, volunteering at Late Nights, and assisting in a myriad of roles on First Tuesdays, these teenagers go above and beyond when it comes to volunteering at the DMA.

Shannon Karol is Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching.

Destination: Anytown USA

Our annual Museum Forum for Teachers has come and gone, and this year was another rousing success.  Twenty-two teachers participated in the week-long program, and spent a full day at each of the following Museums: The Rachofsky House, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Kimbell Art Museum, and of course the DMA.

During their time at the DMA, the teachers went on a walking tour of the Arts District before spending time in Flower of the Prairie: George Grosz in Dallas.  Both of these experiences led to their afternoon art project: creating a watercolor painting of their impression of Dallas.

One teacher’s watercolor showed the Nasher Sculpture Center and Museum Tower.

Teachers were also able to spend time in a brand new installation, Variations on Theme: Contemporary Art 1950s–Present.  While we were in the exhibition, we focused on the themes of the figure, vanitas, and place.  The idea of place was one of our key themes for the day, and we spent quite a bit of time looking at Jack Pierson’s Anytown USA.

Talking with teachers during the 2012 Museum Forum for Teachers

I always love when Anytown USA is on view.  There’s something nostalgic about it, and I always wonder just where “Anytown” might be.  The general consensus among the teachers was that Anytown was a small town that probably looked a lot like Mayberry.  As we looked at the artwork, the teachers were given the following prompt:

The letters that make up this sculpture come from a variety of places. Imagine that each of the letters came from signage on buildings in Anytown USA.  Select one letter and write a description of the business you think used that letter in its signage.  Remember, your response must be inspired by the look and feel of the font/letter you select.

Jack Pierson, Anytown USA, 2000, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Junior Associates, 2004.10.A-I, © Jack Pierson

Based on the teacher’s responses, it sounds like Anytown USA would be a wonderful place to live!  Here are some of their ideas:

NY: A coffee shop where everyone goes to hang out.  Every town has to have a coffee shop.  Or,  a deli run by a transplant from New York.  All of the sandwiches are named after local celebrities.
T: An antique or curio store, and all of the employees are eclectic, just like the goods they sell.
O: A donut shop where grandparents spend weekend mornings with their grandkids.  A city is defined by its donut shops.  Or, it’s an old gas station that is practical, functional, but a little bit dirty.  They don’t care about the aesthetics of their business, they just want to get the job done.
W: This W looks very commercial and slick, like it came from a Walden Books.  Or, it could be from a Woolworth’s Five and Dime.
N: A feminine upscale hotel, or maybe a newspaper printing office.  Or, maybe it’s for a fine art framing shop that has a Thomas Kinkade painting hanging in the window.

U: This belongs to a Western store called “Boot Country.”
S: This S looks universal and simple–it belongs to a store called Supermart that sells everything.
A: This could be part of the sign of a ball park.  Or, it’s the sign for a bar called BAR that’s full of smoke and beer, but is a place to escape.

Surprisingly, none of the teachers selected to write about the first yellow A.  What type of business do you think that A might represent?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Friday Photos: South Dallas Cultural Center Family Night

Tuesday’s blog post highlighted our partnership with artists associated with the South Dallas Cultural Center.  However, this was not our first time to work with the Center.  For the past eight years, we have worked with students from the Center during the five-week Summer Arts at the Center program in a variety of ways.  Students view works of art in the DMA’s collections or special exhibitions that relate to the rotating program theme as a part of projects like online presentations created by teens and watercolor drawings with first-third graders.

A newer aspect of this annual partnership is the South Dallas Cultural Center Family Night at the DMA.  This is the second year that Thriving Minds generously provided buses to transport families from the Center to the DMA for an evening of exploring the galleries and artmaking.

Docents lead families in a tour of the Flower of the Prairie: George Grosz in Dallas exhibition.

Families work together to find patterns in a scavenger hunt of the African galleries.

Families create buildings inspired by paintings in the George Grosz exhibition using cardboard boxes and other fun materials.

The Family Night was a great opportunity for students to see the actual works of art that they discussed with DMA staff using color printouts at the Center, and they were excited to share with their parents and siblings what they had learned about these artworks.  We are especially grateful to include families in our annual summer partnership with the Center in these special evenings, and thank the Center and Thriving Minds for making them possible!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Plumed Preview

DMA members are able to preview exhibitions before the official openings and this past week our members were able to get a sneak peek at the new exhibition The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico. Below are a few photos from the preview days, be sure to visit the exhibition now through November 25.

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

Tour and Outreach Scheduling Begins Today

Teachers, grab your calendars: tour and Go van Gogh outreach scheduling for the 2012-2013 school year begins today.

As always, all outreach programs and tours booked in advance are free of charge.  Go van Gogh outreach is offered to grades 1-6 in the Dallas area.  Programs include conversations about artworks and an art-making activity, and are designed to dovetail with school curricula, per grade level.  Visit our web site to learn more about the Go van Gogh programs offered this year.

Self-guided or docent-led tours of the Museum’s collection and special exhibitions are available to K-12 students and higher education audiences.  Of special note this fall is our Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico docent-guided tour, which will feature outstanding works of Mesoamerican art.  Visit our web site for a full list of tours offered this year.

To submit on online request form, visit the tour and Go van Gogh sections of our web site.

We look forward to seeing you and your students this Fall!

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach


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