Archive for February, 2015



❤ Art

We all know tomorrow is the LOVEliest day of the year – Valentine’s Day! In case you haven’t found the perfect card for your special someone, friend, or teddy bear yet, might I suggest one of our pun-derful art Valentines?

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Pick your favorite and print away! For easy printing, download the PDF of all six Valentines here.

Jennifer Sheppard
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Cuddly Symbols of Undying Love

Uma-Maheshvara, central India, likely late 11th to 12th century, buff sandstone, Intended bequest of David T. Owsley

Uma-Maheshvara, central India, likely late 11th to 12th century, buff sandstone, Intended bequest of David T. Owsley

Dr. Anne Bromberg, The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art at the DMA, can always be counted on to discuss the representation of love in various forms in the works in the DMA’s collection. We asked her to pick out a work on view for a special Valentine’s Day post:

In this sumptuous temple relief, the great Hindu god Shiva embraces his wife Parvati in a sensuous and romantic way. As both gods are deities of fertility, they are shown as almost naked and with beautifully modeled bodies. By their feet are their two sons, the elephant-headed god Ganesha and Skanda, a war god. Over the couple is a scene with Shiva in his other aspect, as the great god of yogic meditation. According to a Hindu text, Parvati longed for a baby after she and Shiva married, but he remained stubbornly ascetic. Finally, the beautiful Parvati said, “Alright, just give me a child and you can go on being the divine yoga master.” So he did, but since Shiva is the god of life, death, and rebirth, it wasn’t that simple. When Shiva found the child Ganesha barring him from Parvati when she was bathing, he cut off his son’s head. Then, moved by Pavati’s despair, he said that he would restore the boy with the head of the first person he saw, which turned out to be an elephant. Elephant-headed Ganesha became the god who removes obstacles from people’s path and gives them prosperity. He is the most popular god in India today. So the tumultuous story has a happy ending, and Shiva and Parvati are cuddly symbols of undying love.

Detail of Ganesha

Detail of Ganesha

Visit this work, and many other works that embody love, in the DMA’s collection galleries for free this Valentine’s Day.

Anne Bromberg is The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art at the DMA.

The D3C Detectives

We are thrilled to welcome four new members to the DMA’s Education Division–Jeelan Bilal-Gore, Elaine Higgins, Samantha Robinson, and Emily Schiller–who are our new digital collections content coordinators, or D3Cs. This newly-created team is responsible for the research, aggregation, and digitization of rich, contextual information that will be presented on our online collection.

Essentially, the D3Cs are like detectives that unearth and build upon research the Museum has conducted on our collection. Then, they package that information for public consumption. For example, virtual visitors to the DMA will eventually be able to not only search for an artwork and find beautiful images, but also learn interesting details like who made the work, why or how they made it, and when. Our D3Cs will focus on artwork that is on view and recently on view, so that visitors will be able to access this content via smartphone or tablet while they meander through our galleries.

The work the D3Cs are doing is part of a five-year project funded by a generous $9 million gift to the DMA to support free general admission and free online access to our permanent collection. We are excited to be able to enrich our online collection and to provide this resource to onsite and digital visitors alike.

Meet the D3Cs

Jeelan is working with our Asian, African, Pacific and Contemporary collections. She holds a Masters degree in Art Museum and Gallery Practice from Newcastle University and a second MA in Art History from the School of Oriental & African Studies at the University of London. Her BA focuses on Asian languages and civilizations from Amherst.

When asked what DMA work of art she was most excited to research…

Just one?! The ones I am excited about are not currently on view but have been in the last five years (though of course there are some that haven’t been on view longer that I’m dying to look into like Shirin Neshat’s Soliloquy and Willie Doherty’s Ghost Story). It’s a toss-up between Yinke Shonibare’s Un Ballo in Maschera and Koki Tanaka’s Everything is Everything.


Elaine is focusing on our pre-Columbian, American Indian, and Latin American collections. She returns to the DMA as a Ph.D. candidate focused on Spanish Colonial art at the University of New Mexico. She also holds an MA in Art History with an emphasis in Pre-Columbian art from UT Austin and a BA in Art History from TCU.

When asked what DMA work of art she was most excited to research…

The Seated hunchback holding mirror and Reclining hunchback holding rectangular object, displayed together. Since I conducted my thesis research on the dwarf motif in Mesoamerican iconography, I am most looking forward to finding out more about these extraordinary works in our collection!


Samantha will be concentrating her focus on our extensive Decorative Arts and Design collection. Most recently, Samantha served as a McDermott Intern (2014-2105) and holds an MA in Art History with a concentration in 19th and 20th century American silver from SMU. Her BA is from Macalester College in St. Paul in International Studies.

When asked what DMA work of art she was most excited to research…

I am most excited to research our Valeri Timofeev martini glass. Acquired in 2014, the brightly colored and profusely patterned martini glass is the first design by Timofeev, a Latvian born designer trained in the former USSR and active in the United States, in the DMA’s permanent collection. I am eager to learn more about the Russian designers, such as Rasul Alihanov, and studios, such as Fabergé, Ovchinnikov, and Khlebnikov, that influenced the material and formal elements of Timofeev’s designs.  


Emily is focused on our American and European collections, in addition to working with our aAncient Mediterranean and Contemporary collections. A former McDermott Intern (2012-2013), Emily is a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State University, concentrating on the History of Photography and African American art, and she also holds an MA in Art History from American University. Her BA is in Art History and Women’s Studies from Hollins University.

When asked what DMA work of art she was most excited to research…

Something that excites me about researching an object is if it was acquired during the early decades of the collection. Any work that has an accession number from the 1900s through 1940s is fun because then it has two historic narratives. One is the history of the art and its creation, and the other is the history of how that piece has been exhibited or discussed since coming into the DMA’s collection.

 One work that has intrigued me since the start of my Internship is Zoltan Sepeshy’s The Whole Town. He is an artist I know very little about, but his name repeatedly popped up when I was doing my dissertation research. I have a feeling he was an individual who socialized and interacted with some of the major art figures during the New Deal and WWII-era, but got neglected by later generations of scholars.  


Be sure to keep an eye on our online collection to discover the interesting facts they’re sure to find!

Andrea Severin Goins
Interpretation Manager

A (Warm) Winter Wonderland: Autism Awareness Family Celebration

This past Saturday, we had the first Autism Awareness Family Celebration of the year. Our theme was snowy weather, which was a fun contradiction to the sunny Texas forecast that we had for the day. Families who attend every Autism Awareness Family Celebration joined first-time families for a fun morning in the Center for Creative Connections making pom-pom snowflake paintings in the studio, relaxing in the TWU sensory room, sketching from works of art in the galleries, and gathering resources from Autism Speaks. Check out all of the DMA’s access programs online at DMA.org.

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

Friday Photos: McDermott Internship

By now I’m sure you know all about our McDermott Internship Program and the wonderful interns we’ve been working with this year. So I am excited to announce that applications are now open for the 2015-2016 McDermott Internship! This year we’ve instituted a fully digital application process, which can be accessed here, but be sure to check out our flyer with full descriptions before you get started.

But of course, we’re not ready to say goodbye to our current interns just yet! Here are some of the fun activities they’ve been up to. Submit your application and this could be you in the fall!

Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator

Leaves of Light with Writer Kendra Greene

 

Kendra Greene, the DMA's current Writer-in-Residence

Kendra Greene, the DMA’s current Writer-in-Residence

Since July 2014, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) has worked closely with printer and essayist Kendra Greene. As our Writer-in-Residence, Kendra is assisting in the evaluation and re-purposing of thousands of visitor responses received in relation to a recent C3 installation.

Images (left to right): A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on its Leaves, c. 1900, watercolor on paper, The James and Ana Melikian Collection; Visitors leaving responses at the C3's Tree of "LIGHT" interactive

Images (left to right): A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on its Leaves, c. 1900, watercolor on paper, The James and Ana Melikian Collection; Visitors leaving responses at the C3’s Tree of “LIGHT” interactive

In the spring of 2014, in connection with Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, C3 asked visitors to respond to a painting of a Tuba tree with the 99 names of God written on its leaves. Nur is the Arabic word for “light,” so we asked visitors to write a characteristic of light on a gold leaf and hang it on our tree. Over three months, we received 4,394 contributions.

Uncrated sat down with Kendra and asked her a few questions:

Tell us a little about your background with museums.
In my first job, as a preparator, I used to put text on the museum wall—one vinyl letter at a time. As a curatorial assistant, I started writing those texts. I was managing a contemporary photography collection when I discovered the best day I could have was introducing a visitor to some remarkable thing they could never have known to ask for, which may or may not have led to volunteering at a natural history museum to costume their giant ground sloth.

What interested you in working with the Dallas Museum of Art?
Museums are storytelling institutions, and yet so many of those stories go unheard. There’s never enough room on the labels to say everything worth saying, and then there’s the internal stories, the fragile oral history of what it is to live with a museum, that almost never get recorded in the first place. I wanted to capture stories that might otherwise be lost, and I wanted to give voice to surprising things well worth hearing.

Describe your process of unpacking and making sense of the information in the leaves.
The prospect of coming to grips with thousands of discrete words and phrases was overwhelming. I started alphabetizing to organize the leaves, and doing so I found not just patterns of meaning but rhythms of language. I got really interested in the effect of proportion in the responses: the power of “Love” being repeated 242 times, and the power of “Flowers & Weeds” being said just once.

Kendra’s notebook documenting the Tuba tree responses

Kendra’s notebook documenting the Tuba tree responses

What are some of your favorite poems that you generated from the leaf responses?

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How does this kind of creative re-purposing support the process of meaning making?
I’m a writer and a maker essentially because I believe in conversation. It’s exciting whenever creating something generates a response, but when that response generates more making, the whole exchange grows that much richer. It was really important to me to listen to everything this collection of visitors chose to say, and then think about what those writings had to say both individually and en masse. I see a lot of my questions and interpretations in my compositions from the leaves, but mostly I see a portrait of a community that can only happen through collaboration.

Join Kendra Greene for an evening of discovering the galleries through language, unlocking the power of art to spark poetry and prose, Thursday, February 12, from 6:00 to 8:50 p.m., and experience Kendra’s assembled poetry at the February Late Night on Friday, February 20, in the C3 Theater at 8:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Jessica Fuentes is the Center for Creative Connections Gallery Coordinator at the DMA.

Texas Flora

With Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse closing this weekend, you only have a few days left to enjoy the blossoming canvases in the exhibition. The tradition of recreating bundles of blooms in art as still-life is longstanding. Many of the floral arrangements you’ll see are bright, plush tableaus with numerous species represented. They demonstrate the prowess of French master artists who nestled cultural symbols throughout the canvas.

In contrast, neither silk ribbon nor glittering vase contain the artworks celebrating iconic Texas flora from the Museum’s permanent collection. They are rendered on paper or hardboard in print or with brush. Realistically portrayed in muted tones, a single species is the subject of each work. These plants thrive in the unique climate of our rugged state and have been cultivated by humans for centuries for medicine, sustenance and beauty.

Merritt Mauzey’s print Cotton Stalk and Florence McClung’s print Castor Beans resemble naturalist studies from early botanical books. The plants are highly detailed and placed against a void background to isolate their physical attributes. You can also see similarities to Art Nouveau motifs in Mauzey’s print. The cotton stalks are frontal and flattened with sinuous stems. Cotton has been a leading cash crop in Texas for generations. Every part of the plant can be put to use, especially the tuft of fibers which is removed and spun into thread. Castor-beans, on the other hand, have highly toxic seeds containing ricin and are hazardous to most livestock.

Otis Dozier, on the other hand, places Texas staple crops in a portrait style composition with their respective farm settings as the backdrop. In Cotton Boll, Dozier depicts the sequence of growth as we are reminded that flora has a brief but bountiful life cycle. Some art scholars believe Maize and Windmill resembles millet as the size and shape of the plant look somewhat like Red Millet or Sorghum. Maize has been cultivated and prepared as food in numerous ways since ancient times in North America. The shape or color of the seeds can be an indicator of their diverse genes.

Charles T. Bowling, Meadow Wind, 1942, Dallas Museum of Art, Ted Dealey Purchase Prize, Fourteenth Annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition, 1943.

Charles T. Bowling, Meadow Wind, 1942, Dallas Museum of Art, Ted Dealey Purchase Prize, Fourteenth Annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition, 1943.

Sunflowers have long been used by indigenous North Americans for many reasons, like treating snake bites or making oils. In some parts of Texas they can grow up to eight feet tall, with flower heads one foot in diameter! Charles T. Bowling captures the strength of the sunflower in its natural setting in his watercolor Meadow Wind.

Throughout the pages of many sketchbooks by Otis Dozier are studies of sunflower heads. It is interesting to see an artist working through his observations of nature. He uses the blank pages to examine the texture and form of the sunflower at various angles.

Imagine all the unique decorative arrangements that could be made with the regional flora of Texas. And there are many other examples of Texas flora in the collection to explore. Try searching for ‘jimson weed,’ ‘coxcomb,’ or ‘cactus’ in the DMA’s online collection database. And when you stop by for your last peek at Bouquets, see what other blooms you can find in our galleries!

Rae Pleasant
Research Associate for Early Texas Art

After Midnight: When the artwork is an early riser

Eight months ago, I joined the Dallas Museum of Art as the Director of Collections Management, helping to oversee the care of our art collection—both on and off the walls in our galleries and for our special exhibitions.  As part of that responsibility, I supervise the Museum’s team of preparators and registrars. Preparators are the staff who actually handle the art and are responsible for installing the artwork you see hanging in the galleries. Registrars, among other duties, are in charge of all logistics and coordination of loans coming to the DMA. Members of our excellent team have written about their adventures on Uncrated before (relive some of those stories here, here, here, here, and here!).

Last month we were all focused on the arrival of paintings from around the globe for our newest special exhibition, Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga.

Art travels in specially built crates, and there are particular companies that coordinate the shipping and customs procedures for works of art. The DMA Registrar staff works in close contact with these companies to make sure the works are safe and sound at all times. They know what size crate can fit in the cargo hold of different aircrafts and all possible flight options. We are kind of the travel agent for the artwork! We know that if a crate is higher than 63 inches it means that it will need to fly in a cargo plane.

That was the case for some of the most amazing artwork you will see in Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga, which opens at the DMA on February 8. We had 30 crates of 52 works of art travel from Japan to Dallas accompanied by the staff from the Japan Foundation and couriers from two of the lending institutions, the Mie Prefectural Art Museum, and the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.
Truck arrival

As there is no need to cater to passengers, cargo flights tend to leave and arrive at not the most convenient times. They are likely to arrive in the middle of the night—or in the middle of the morning, depending on how you look at it!

Truck manovering

The Shiraga and Motonaga works arrived at the DMA on a cold January night. Registrar and Preparator staff, armed with lots of coffee, good attitudes, and heavy coats, were at the DMA to receive the shipment. Our galleries were dark, and so was the night outside. Under the watchful eyes of our Security staff, we worked just as we would during the day, moving quickly and carefully. Preparators unloaded the big truck and moved the crates into our galleries. There they would acclimatize—a museum term for adjust to the current conditions (sort of like getting over jet lag)—for a 24-hour period. Afterward, these beautiful works were uncrated and installed in the presence of their couriers.

Truck at dock

I hope you will visit the DMA soon and enjoy this stunning exhibition!

Isabel Stauffer is the Director of Collections Management at the DMA.


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