Archive for April, 2016

Friday Photos: April Showers Bring…

May flowers, of course! So we’re hoping that this stormy day is a good sign for the plants on our grounds in the upcoming month! In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying our flowers blooming in the galleries. Come to the DMA today to see these works of art that are sprouting with petals and leaves, without having to reset your perm!

Whitney Sirois
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

Playful Learning with SPARK!

Why teach the creative process? Last week, my amazing colleague Amy Copeland and I drove the Go van Gogh van (say that three times fast!) to the historic South Side on Lamar building to take part in the 2016 Creativity Confab hosted by SPARK!. We arrived excited to hear some of the city’s most creative minds participate in a panel discussion on the importance of creativity in a child’s education, and were greeted with an inviting maze of slides, “slinky” tubes, catwalks, and creative play stations, including a giant Lite-Brite and a recording studio. Needless to say, not even our inappropriate choice of shoes could keep us from joining in on the fun and exploring!

Inspired by the City Museum in St. Louis, SPARK! was founded in 2010 to teach the creative process and empower children through playful learning. Student visitors are invited to first fully immerse themselves in the space and loosen up by playing. Fred Peña of Booziotis and Company Architects, the space’s designer, says that his favorite part of the project is watching a cautious student finally work up the nerve to tackle the floor to ceiling slide, and then repeat the adventure again and again. After playing, the students move on to an art activity geared to teach the creative process and encourage collaborative problem solving.

photo 3 (1)

While the facility has only been open since June 2015, preliminary research reflects that students are more likely to describe themselves as creative and more likely to believe they’re capable of coming up with a valuable new idea after a visit to SPARK!. Significantly, about 57 percent of the children served by SPARK! come from low-income communities, reflecting the organization’s commitment to offering creative learning programs to underserved groups.

The panel’s consensus? Access to creative learning programs help children develop self-reliance, confidence, and resilience. They’re more like to perform better academically and in their future careers. As with sports, the arts teach children teamwork and help them develop confidence in their own abilities. Moreover, children learn not to fear failure and discover that problems often have more than one solution.

As a museum educator, my visit to SPARK! served as an inspiring reminder of how playful learning can help students make meaningful connections to the arts and tap into their own creativity. I look forward to my next visit, sans the wedge sandals.

tengo

Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Black Tie Optional, Style Mandatory

Folly at the Art Ball, our new annual fundraiser hosted by the DMA Junior Associates to benefit the Dallas Museum of Art, will launch this weekend as the After Party of the Museum’s annual gala. And we’re giving a special offer to our Uncrated readers to join in on the fun (see below). The attire “black tie optional” might sound intimidating, but it’s really about what makes you feel your best!

Inspired by fashion bloggers and chic instagrammers, we asked a few DMA Juniors to give us a sneak peek at their ensembles for the best night of the year:

Abigail Baber Rust, DMA Member since 2008
Abigail Baber Rust, DMA Member since 2008
Jennifer Anthony, DMA Member since 2015
Jennifer Anthony, DMA Members since 2015
Julia Anthony, DMA Member since 2015
Julia Anthony, DMA Member since 2015
Vodi Cook, DMA Member since 2015 wearing Custom Couture designed by fellow DMA supporter MacKenzie Brittingham
Vodi Cook, DMA Member since 2015 wearing Custom Couture designed by fellow DMA supporter, MacKenzie Brittingham.

When trying to decide what to wear, remember to ask yourself, “Would I look great driving away in a Jaguar in this outfit?” The evening includes a chance to win a brand-new 2017 Jaguar F-Pace Prestige. No matter what, make sure you are ready to dance to the tunes of DJ Lucy Wrubel and the Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra!

Since you are loyal Uncrated readers, we’d love to treat you to 25% off entry tickets to Folly at the Art Ball. Use the discount code UNCRATEDSTYLE when you purchase yours before Saturday, April 23, at noon! Tickets will be sold at the door for an increased price of $250.

Rebekah Boyer is the Assistant Manager of DMA Member Groups at the DMA.

Friday Photos: Dress Like an Egyptian

Ask any member of our Education Department: we love our props, and we LOVE dress-up! Luckily for us, our visitors do, too! No matter the age or the stage, we all have a blast getting into the spirit (and outfits) of our art.

Just this week, our Meaningful Moments group, led by our wonderful McDermott Intern Emily, got funky with the pharaohs in some hip headwear. Take a look!

Did you catch Pharaoh Alan putting bunny ears on Pharaoh Emily?

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

Mother of Dragons

In anticipation of the airing of the sixth season of Game of Thrones, we asked the DMA’s “Mother of Dragons,” curator Anne Bromberg, to share the history of dragons and the many ways they are represented in the Museum’s collection. 

People all over the world have imagined dragons—horned, winged, and fire-spitting serpents—as powerful spirit figures, capable of both helping humans and killing them. Since actual snakes shed their old skins and appear to be newborn periodically, dragons were thought to be deathless. They were also usually considered to be both male and female in one body and thus were spirits of fertility.

Dragon eyes were thought to be translucent jewels, as they reflected the light of the moon and stars. Often these eyes were called pearls. As part of the natural forces in the world, dragons were associated with both earth and water; hence they represented the four basic elements: earth, air, fire, and water.

Stories about dragons appear in some of the earliest religious texts, both in Near Eastern kingdoms and early Greece and in the Hindu Upanishads. The Greeks called dragons Ouranos, the Heavens, who is both child and husband of Gaea, the Earth Mother. A form of dragon is notable in pre-Columbian religions as the feathered serpent, and in China and Japan as an imperial symbol. In India the dragon figure became the seven-headed cobra Naga king, while gods like Vishnu are associated with sacred serpents. Famous stories related to dragons include the Greek hero Perseus saving Andromeda from a sea monster and, in Christianity, St. George killing an evil dragon.

An interesting note on dragons is that early mankind, who imagined winged serpents, considerably anticipated modern science, which describes how birds descended from dinosaurs. The word dinosaur means “terrible reptile.”

Vase, n.d., Japan, gold lacquer, silver, gold foil, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young 1993.86.41.FA

Vase, Japan, n.d., gold lacquer, silver, and gold foil, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young, 1993.86.41.FA

Several vases in the DMA’s Young Collection of Meiji period decorative arts represent dragons as part of the design. Although most of the Young Collection works were made for the export market to Europe or America, the nature of these dragons is derived from Chinese art. On the neck of this handsome vase, the main scene of which shows a typically Japanese landscape scene, a sinuous dragon curves around, as if waiting to ambush its victims. The silver dragon is the classical curving winged figure, with gaping jaws and large claws.

Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea, Designer: Sanseisha Company, Meiji Period (1868-1912), 1879–1881, bronze and glass, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young 1993.86.11.FA

Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea, Sanseisha Company, designer, Meiji period, 1879–1881, bronze and glass, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young, 1993.86.11.FA

Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea is the most striking work in the Young Collection of Meiji period Japanese arts. These works were made for export to Europe and America and were deliberately made in styles that would appeal to the market for Japanese work. Here the Japanese warrior hero Takenouchi no Sukune is being rewarded by the Dragon King of the Sea, whom he has helped. An emissary of the king, accompanied by an attendant who appears as part human-part sea monster, offers the Jewel of the Tides to the warrior. It resembles a pearl, recalling that dragon eyes were imagined as jewels or pearls.

The base of the work is like a sea shore, with a rocky strand covered with crabs, snails, and terrapins. The under support is raised on sea dragon feet. The artist has brilliantly imagined a folk tale as a grand dramatic scene.

Dragon finial, 15th–17th century, Thailand, bronze, Intended bequest of David T. Owsley PG.2007.57

Dragon finial, Thailand, 15th–17th century, bronze, Intended bequest of David T. Owsley, PG.2007.57

In Southeast Asia, where kings in Cambodia and Thailand often identified themselves with Hindu or Buddhist deities, dragons were considered beneficent beings, powerful, but protective of the king and his people. Upper-class palanquins (carrying chairs) were ornamented with various auspicious images, including dragons. This example is a fine piece of craftsmanship that suggests the nature of dragons as beautiful, sinuous figures, with the fierce jaws of a killer but also the grace of a winged serpent. The Hindu Naga serpent-king is adapted to the finely detailed bronze work of the Thai kingdoms.

Finial: Dragon head, Iran, Seljuk period, 11th–14th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase 1963.24

Finial: dragon head, Iran, Seljuk period, 11th–14th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1963.24

This ferocious looking dragon head from Iran is another example of using popular spirit imagery to ornament furniture and other useful objects. The dragon’s jaw gapes wide, showing sharp teeth and suggesting the fire that dragons were believed to spit. Religious imagery in ancient civilizations was as much about nature as mankind, since people were very dependent on the natural world for food, clothing, and building materials. The early Persians, as well as the Greeks and many peoples, projected their fears and hopes onto spirits that, like dragons, embody the power and violence of nature, as well as showing protective qualities.

Shiva Nataraja, India, Chola dynasty, 11th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund 2000.377

Shiva Nataraja, India, Chola dynasty, 11th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2000.377

The great god Shiva was associated with serpent dragons, as you see in this great sculpture, where the god wears snake bracelets; however, Shiva is far more closely related to dragons than his ornaments indicate. In his cosmic form as Nataraja, the divine dancer, Shiva is encircled with flames. As the lord of life, death, and rebirth, he symbolizes creation, destruction, and ongoing life, as dragons were thought to do. In many ways, Lord Shiva was himself a dragon. The circle of flames surrounding him and the fire he holds in his hand represent death and the burial ground, but also pulse with continuing life. Like dragons, Shiva is a god of fertility. His hair is the eternal waters of Mother Ganges. The drum he carries holds the music of life. Again like dragons, he can bring both disaster and new birth.

Blue Five-Clawed Dragon Robe, late 19th century, China, , silk, metal-wrapped yarn, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift in honor of Joe B. Blakey 1981.6

Blue five-clawed dragon robe, China, late 19th century, China, silk and metal-wrapped yarn, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift in honor of Joe B. Blakey, 1981.6

As symbols of prosperity and power, dragons in China became particularly associated with the Chinese emperor and his relatives and associates. This fine silk and metallic robe is one of several garments at the DMA that exemplify such Chinese taste. The dragons here are particularly charming and attractive, as they curl around, rather like superior pets. Another Chinese belief was that dragons could shrink themselves to the size of silk worms or blow themselves to the size of a thunderstorm. As in other cultures, Chinese dragons represented the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot, c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot, c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes, 1971.83

German artist Albrecht Dürer’s image of St. George shows the hero as he has just slain an evil dragon. European Christians believed in the monstrous character of dragons, unlike the favorable idea you find in Greece, India, or China; however, in another way St. George is the successor of a Greek hero like Perseus, who also killed vicious dragons. In Christianity, a dragon was seen as an aspect of satan. In Dürer’s powerful scene, St. George seems to have effortlessly crushed the fallen dragon.

Figure of a Chimera (mythical beast), Han, China, 25–220 C.E., earthenware and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift 1995.66

Figure of a chimera (mythical beast), China, 25–220 C.E., earthenware and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 1995.66

An imaginary animal closely related to dragons is the chimera, a vision that first appeared in central Asia, but was to become popular from Europe to China, thanks to trade along the Silk Road. The chimera combines lion, goat, and snake features. Like dragons, it spits unquenchable fire, and can destroy people or bring them good fortune. In China it became, like dragons, an image of prosperity and power.

Buddha Muchalinda, Cambodia, Khmer empire, late 12th–early 13th century, copper alloy, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund 2005.3.A-C

Buddha Muchalinda, Cambodia, Khmer empire, late 12th–early 13th century, copper alloy, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2005.3.a-c

In this fine Cambodian image, the Buddha is shown meditating before he achieved enlightenment. According to a story of this time in the Buddha’s life, a demon of ignorance tried to prevent him from reaching the Dharma by raising the waters of the lake where he sat until they drowned him. But the Buddha-to-be was protected by the holy Naga serpent king, who lifted the Buddha up and saved his life. This image of the Buddha protected by the Naga serpent (as a seven-headed cobra) was to become one of the most popular Buddhist icons.

Helmet mask (komo), mid–20th century, wood, glass, animal horns, fiber, and mirrors, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley 1997.24

Helmet mask (komo), Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, mid-20th century, wood, glass, animal horns, fiber, and mirrors, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley, 1997.24

Masks like this were used among the Senufo and the neighboring Bamana people by high-ranking members of the men’s powerful Komo association, which was responsible for maintaining social, spiritual, and economic harmony. The added female figure may refer to Senufo women as diviners. The fearsome image, with its sharp teeth and jutting animal horns and tusks, projects terror. Glass eyes and reflective mirrors add a sense of supernatural force.

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

But Clouds Got in My Way

While browsing our online collection for a project, I entered the word “cloud” into the search field. I was surprised by how many works of art in our collection had cloud connections, either as part of the work’s title or featured in the work itself. As I was looking through the images, I kept hearing Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now playing in my head. Go ahead and give it a listen as you look at just a few of the clouds in our collection.

 

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the DMA.

High School Film Day

Lights, Camera, Action! On Friday at the DMA, we welcomed hundreds of North Texas students for DIFF 2016 High School Day. Organized by the Dallas International Film Festival, the annual event takes place in the Dallas Arts District and gives future filmmakers the opportunity to participate in discussions and workshops about creating and marketing independent films at the DMA, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Crow Collection of Asian Art, and Kyde Warren Park.

Here at the Museum, students participated in an Animation 101 workshop with Reel FX Creative Studios and learned about “old school” FX for the digital age with MediaTech Institute’s Eric Jewell. You can check out Eric’s workshop on forced perspective from last year’s High School Film Day here!

To top it off, the DMA Education team led sessions in the galleries exploring how artists relate to filmmakers, and experimented with DIY photo filters created with everyday objects to mimic different film genres.

Are you inspired to get behind the camera? Experiment with your own DIY photo filters and submit your creations to the Center for Creative Connections #DMAdigitalspot’s current visitor photo prompt, Beauty Redefined!

Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs


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