Archive for July, 2015

Summer Interns: Creative Young Minds

When I got the email saying I would be one of the five Summer Art Camp Interns at the Dallas Museum of Art, I was so excited because I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to blend my passions for both art and working with children. I am a transfer student from Kenyon College, and I will be attending the University of Texas at Austin this fall where I plan to be a psychology major. My dream would be to someday become an art therapist.

From the New World Kids Camp–a two week long camp that dedicates each day to an element of the sensory alphabet–I recognized that each child had a unique style and voice in their artwork. In only two short weeks I could pick out which artwork belonged to which child because of reappearances in themes such as warships or the color red. Working with these children as a summer intern has changed my opinion about art and its usefulness as a way to reveal interesting traits about each child. For example, certain kids used more curvy and open lines, whereas others were more exact and meticulous. These tendencies to create artwork with certain patterns revealed a lot about each child, and I enjoyed getting to learn about each camper through their art.

Not only was I startled by the overwhelming talent and interest in art created by all of the campers, but I also was excited to observe how creativity in young minds still holds strong, even with distractions today like video games and technology. I love what the DMA achieves in helping children by giving them a place and opportunity to express themselves in a way that is productive and meaningful.

Sara Stahl
Summer Art Camp Intern

What’s That Smell?

Art Babies 1

In our family classes here at the Museum, we try to make sense of the art in more ways than one! Whether it’s through tactile objects that mimic textures we see in a painting, or listening to music that inspired certain works of art, we do our best to find creative ways to engage more than just our sense of sight when exploring the galleries. For this month’s Art Babies class, we kicked it up a notch and focused on our sense of smell.

Since babies already naturally rely on the five senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing—to learn about the world around them, they were the perfect audience for this sort of experiment. For me, though, it was a fun challenge to imagine smell as a pathway for exploring art. How could I bring smells into the galleries that were both baby-safe and art-safe? And how could I be playful and engaging in my approach? My solution—puppets and spice jars!

Art Babies 2

We began with a story featuring Jack the dog, inspired by Claude-Joseph Vernet’s painting A Mountain Landscape with an Approaching Storm. Jack smells something new in the air and sniffs from one furry friend to the next trying to discover what the smell could be. I used a loveable puppet to bring the story to life, and Jack quickly became fast friends with our little visitors. Several wanted to hug and kiss him, but they also imitated the puppet’s sniffing, and as the story progressed, more and more babies would scrunch up their noses and make sniffing noises along with Jack. (The little one pictured above was one of my most expressive sniffers!) When Jack finally discovers that his mystery smell is the scent of rain, the children and their caregivers made their own discovery too—finding a little dog in Vernet’s painting and noticing the ominous clouds in the top corner of the landscape.

Now that we had planted the idea of using smell to better understand what we see, families set off on a smelling adventure through the galleries, using repurposed spice jars filled with a variety of scents—from apple blossom and rain to fresh hay and mountain air!

Art Babies 3

Babies sniffed, shook the bottles like rattles, and stuck them in their mouths. Adults searched for paintings with objects that matched the smells. Together grown-ups and children found new ways to experience art.

Art Babies 4

Before the shrieks of delight and giggles could dissolve into tears or frustration at not being able to touch, we left the galleries and made our way to our sensory play stations. Here, any and everything can be picked up, mouthed, dropped, smelled, rolled, bounced, and more. And for a special smell-inspired play area, we offered the babies fresh flowers, oranges, lemons, and limes to smell and investigate.

I do believe that these little ones have quite a nose for art!

You can create your own smell-based sensory play at home with recycled spice jars, cotton balls, and scents. I found inspiration from this blog post. Be sure to avoid scents that might create a burning sensation (like wasabi, chili powder, mustard or pepper). My go-to source for unusual scents is the Demeter Fragrance Company. Smells like art to me!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs


Moore on the Move

Photos showing the North Entrance of the museum prior to the start of renovation efforts.

The North Entrance of the Museum prior to the start of renovation efforts.

Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3 has greeted visitors at the Museum’s North Entrance for many years. Last week, Moore’s sculpture moved to a new home on the south side of the building, where it will welcome visitors into the Sculpture Garden. The move involved a lot of planning, and many precautions were in place to move the 2,200-pound bronze sculpture. Follow the sculpture’s journey below:

Summer Interns: Preparing for the Future

Hello all! My name is Christina Miller and I am a first year graduate student at Texas Woman’s University, earning my Masters of Art in Teaching. Interning at the DMA this summer has really taught me so much about children and art. Rather than the camp teachers and interns teaching the children about art, throughout this experience, the children have been teaching me. The camp that was by far the toughest but most rewarding was the Hands-On Art for Children with Autism. This was my first experience working with children with special needs. I am pretty sure that I was just as nervous as the children were on their first day of camp, but I knew it was important for me to learn to work with children with a variety of abilities, since teaching will be in my near future.

The children all had different personalities and were on different levels of the autism spectrum. It was amazing to see how some had such an incredible memory! From remembering artists and their artworks, to songs, to even art history movements. One thing they all had in common was hard work and participation. Although each of them may have differing needs, they are all talented. I was so happy that I had the opportunity to work with this camp. I can proudly say that this internship has prepared me for my future as an art teacher and taught me how to truly bond and work with students with a variety of abilities.

Christina Miller
Summer Art Camp Intern

African Art Sketching Party

Full wall

Just before the Arts of Africa gallery closed for reinstallation in May, the DMA invited the public to a Late Night African Art Sketching Party. Over 100 sketches of visitors’ favorite African artworks were gathered during the party. It was an opportunity to tap into the creativity and perspectives of DMA visitors. Sketching is a fun way to slow down, look closely, and discover something new about an artwork.

Visitors’ drawings are on view on a temporary wall on Level 3 in the Museum. Come for a visit before August 30 to see this installation of sketches and experience the DMA’s African art collection as seen through the eyes of another.

Nicole Stutzman Forbes is the Chair of Learning Initiatives and Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education at the DMA.

Cool Down with Pop

Not only is July National Ice Cream Month, but yesterday ice cream had an entire day dedicated to its wonderfulness. During the Dallas summers, we certainly love cool treats, which has us thinking of cooler weather and a colorful exhibition opening this fall at the DMA, International Pop. So, in honor of this month dedicated to the coolest dessert there is, we’re highlighting Wayne Thiebaud’s Salads, Sandwiches, and Desserts. You can see this work at the DMA beginning October 11, 2015.

Wayne Thiebaud, Salads, Sandwiches, and Desserts, 1962, oil on canvas, Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, NAA–Thomas C. Woods Memorial © Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Wayne Thiebaud, Salads, Sandwiches, and Desserts, 1962, oil on canvas, Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, NAA–Thomas C. Woods Memorial, © Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs at the DMA.

Museum Murder Solved!

Tonight we completed our fourth annual Museum Murder Mystery Game. This year, Victory was found dead just before Late Night began. Visitors searched the galleries for the body and integrated the suspects to determine who did it, with what object, and in which gallery. Below is the news report from their findings.

Museum Murder Solved!
Isabelle Lemonnier Confesses

Edouard Manet, Portrait of Isabelle Lemonnier with a Muff, c. 1879, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1978.1

Edouard Manet, Portrait of Isabelle Lemonnier with a Muff, c. 1879, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1978.1

 17 JULY – Chaos has reigned for the past few hours here at the Dallas Museum of Art. Following the violent death of Victory, a prominent (and notoriously annoying) member of the collection, staff and visitors conducted an intensive inquiry. Lily Davenport, summer intern and chief investigator, explained that “we interviewed every artwork under suspicion for Victory’s murder, and checked on almost all of the potential weapons on display in the Museum.” In the end, one of those suspects broke down and confessed, under close questioning regarding the timing of her walk home.

Isabelle Lemonnier admitted to strangling Victory with an Etruscan composite necklace in the Indonesian Art Gallery. An unrepentant Isabelle reportedly remarked during her interrogation, “It was easy. I let everyone think I had taken Lady in a Red Hat up to her portrait, when really I just circled around to the third floor, by way of the Barrel Vault. The necklace looked as though it would fit in my muff, so I took it out of its case in the Ancient Mediterranean Gallery and went up to the Indonesian section to wait for Victory. I got her from behind as she came through the door—I doubt she ever even saw me.”

When this reporter asked about her motive, Isabelle cited Victory’s “disruptive and obnoxious” behavior and her own longstanding envy of the other artwork’s vocal self-confidence. Said the killer, “She always acted like she was so much better than me, than all of us. And the self-promotion never really let up. So it was just the icing on the cake when she interrupted Buddha’s meditation session to ask about dealing with envious friends. I knew she was talking about me, and it made me so angry!”

Museum staff did not comment on Isabelle’s eventual fate, as artwork-on-artwork violence is comparatively rare, and little judicial precedent exists. “It’s much more common for human visitors to pose a threat to the art,” said an investigator from the curatorial department who wishes to remain nameless. “I don’t even know where to begin writing this incident report.”


Lily Davenport is the Summer Intern for Adult Programming at the DMA

CosPlaying at the DMA


This week, teens have been experimenting and creating through group and solo challenges during our Urban Armor: Cosplay Challenge Camp. Each challenge allows this group to learn new concepts and construction techniques to use in their final costume design which they showcased this afternoon in the Museum galleries. Inspired by last year’s Zombie Camp, this year’s group was visited daily by experts from various professions that they may want to pursue like film and fashion. One of the returning campers from last year, a student at Booker T. Washington, said “this (the Urban Armor camp) is the only camp that I sign up for every year because it’s so awesome. I love it.”

So if you’re in the DMA galleries this afternoon, don’t be surprised if you run into a superhero or two.


Summer Interns: Making Art and Loving It

Creating with the Fabric Frenzy summer campers.

Creating with the Fabric Frenzy summer campers.

I tried to set few expectations for my first day of summer art camp at the DMA. Now, as the clock strikes one each Friday, I still can’t predict what will happen the next week in camp for another batch of aspiring, artistic youngsters. One thing I can feel certain of as the end of a week draws near, is that I’ve had a blast with a bunch of unique, imaginative kids and a few bottles of tempera paint.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the DMA’s program that allows kids to incorporate art into their lives in fun, engaging ways with the help of some awesome and caring teachers, volunteers, and interns. These kids arrive at camp with minds teeming with creativity and energy that is infectious and inspiring for a college student trying to figure out what to do with her life and love for art. Again and again, campers teach me how to have a bit of fun in the process of art-making, while surprising me with the friendships that come along with it. So, while creating art is something special in itself, sharing it with others is a whole other experience that I’m grateful these kids and I have had this summer.

After I say a bittersweet goodbye once again today, I’ll hope that they continue to play with art and express their most imaginative ideas to the world after they leave our finger-painted doors.

Katy Freeman
Summer Art Camp Intern

After Hours

Have you ever wondered what museum curators do to relax and unwind at the end of their day? For Olivier Meslay, the DMA’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, one of his favorite things is to look through online versions of auction house and gallery catalogs. What seems like a bit of a “busman’s holiday” worked to our advantage a few months ago.

Cover to Audap & Mirabaud’s catalog for 21 November 2014 auction

Cover of Audap & Mirabaud’s catalog for November 21, 2014, auction

It all started on a stormy night early last November when he clicked on the website for the Parisian auction house Audap & Mirabaud. On their homepage was the lovely self-portrait by Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier (1787-1877), a lesser-known French painter, sculptor, and engraver who had exhibited at the Salon between 1817 and 1838.

The painting that caught Olivier’s attention is signed and dated 1833, and Carpentier exhibited it at the Salon the following year. For some time, the DMA had been seeking to purchase a large-scale 19th-century Salon portrait, and this one fit the bill. It was to be auctioned in Paris on November 21, and, as it happened, Olivier would be in France on the day of the sale, but not in Paris. Luckily, he had plans to be in the glorious city a few days beforehand and found an occasion to examine the painting.

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

It was as impressive as he had hoped, and so he registered to bid. The only remaining problem was that at the precise time of the sale he was to be at a conference in a city four hours away. About mid-morning on November 21, he discreetly slipped out of his meeting for a few minutes to bid by telephone on the artwork. To our great fortune, he was the high bidder. All of his maneuverings were worthwhile.

When he returned to Paris a few days later, to his great surprise, he learned from an agent with Audap & Mirabaud that a small, fully realized preliminary drawing of the portrait had become available. He bought it on the spot.

(left) Study for “Self-Portrait of the Artist and his Family in his Studio,” c. 1833, pencil on paper, private collection (right) Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

(left) Study for Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, c. 1833, pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Olivier Meslay, 2015.20.FA; (right) Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Having the opportunity to place a highly detailed drawing next to the executed painting is quite rare. It provides us with the chance to delve into the artist’s creative process and study any last-minute compositional changes made between the two works. In this case, we learn that in the completed painting, Carpentier rearranged the sculptures in the background, while in the foreground he added the yellow and red paisley shawl draped over the back of the chair on which his daughter,r wearing a blue dress, rests her arm.

Another exciting aspect of these purchases is that it presented us with an opportunity to learn about Carpentier’s life. One of the most immediate revelations happened shortly after the painting arrived at the DMA. Much to our surprise, we discovered a small slip of paper affixed to the back of the frame. On the very old sheet were handwritten details (in French, of course) about Carpentier; his wife, Adèle; and daughter Clémence.


Slip of paper affixed to upper rail of the back of the frame with details of the artist’s immediate family and descendants.

As our research about Carpentier progressed, we unearthed some very intriguing discoveries. While he was quite active in the Society des Beaux-Arts, advocating for various artistic mutual aid societies, he was also an accomplished theoretician and technician of encaustic painting. The ancient process of adding pigment to melted beeswax, which dates back to antiquity, fascinated Carpentier throughout his lifetime and culminated in his authoring a detailed treatise about the technique that artists still consult today.

Notes en cire

Cover of Notes sur la peinture: a la cire cautérisée procédé encaustique by Paul Carpentier

Most interestingly, we discovered that one of his closest friends was Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), the French artist and photographer recognized for inventing the eponymous process of photography. As a testament to their mutual admiration, Carpentier made a painting and bust of his good friend, but more importantly, in 1855 he wrote a monograph about Daguerre that to this day remains the single greatest firsthand contemporary account on the birth of photography.

Knowing more about Carpentier, and turning back to his self-portrait, we see that in it he brought together people and things that held an important place in his life. While we discovered valuable information about the painting and artist, we also learned that we all gain when our Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs relaxes at the end of a busy day by surfing the Web. Visit the newly conserved painting in the DMA’s Level 2 European Art Galleries, included in free general admission, today!

Martha MacLeod is the Assistant to the Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curatorial Administrative Assistant for the European and American Art Department at the DMA.


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