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A Day in the Life: Intern Ashley

When asked to write a post about a day in life of my job here at the DMA, I wondered how I would ever choose what to include.  My days at the Museum are so varied, from docent trainings on Mondays, meetings galore on Wednesdays, to catching up on anything yet to be done on Fridays.  So, I decided to select a day that is one of my favorites and really illustrates the reasons why I love my time at the DMA: Thursdays!

My Thursday calendars primarily consist of two activities: touring and researching

Touring: From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursday mornings I have the pleasure of touring K-12 students at the museum.  I typically arrive at the docent desk fifteen minutes before my tour to ensure that everything is on schedule before welcoming the children into the Museum.  Once everyone is in the door, we talk about museums, museum visits, and things to remember while on the tour.   The students are always eager to share their knowledge of museum etiquette: “stay with the group,” “use inside voices,” and “keep a safe distance between ourselves and the art.”  Next, we head into the galleries to look closely at six or so works of art.  Since we only have an hour for our tour, I attempt to be as strategic as possible, selecting objects across a wide variety of cultures, time periods, and media.  The students are amazed to realize how much they can discover just through looking and how much knowledge they already have.  It is such a joy to share in their experience!

Research: My Thursday afternoons are spent researching various objects in the collection, compiling information, and writing text, which eventually becomes online resources for teachers to use in their classrooms.  I also research special exhibitions and some of our collection for upcoming teacher workshops.  For example, I’ve been conducting research the last few weeks on The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy in preparation for our upcoming workshop on French art.  It is wonderful to have the opportunity to learn about periods in history and styles of art to which I’ve had little exposure or with which I’m less familiar. 

Teaching and research are two of my passions, and I feel so lucky to be able to dedicate a large amount of my time to pursuing both.

Ashley Bruckbauer

Programs and Resources for Teachers Intern

Teacher Workshop on American Indian Art

Dear teachers, we would like to invite you to participate in the last DMA teacher workshop of the summer.  This workshop will take place on Tuesday, August 9th from 9:00am-12:30pm at the Dallas Museum of Art and will explore American Indian art and belief systems presented in the Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection exhibition.  The workshop offers 3.5 CPE hours.  The full workshop cost is $25 or $20 for DMA members, and you can register online.

Selected works of art from the exhibition.

We look forward to seeing you at this workshop and our upcoming 2011-2012 programs throughout the school year!

Ashley Bruckbauer
Teaching Programs and Partnerships

An Intern Journey

In the beginning, I was a new intern, just like any other….
 

Constantin Brancusi, The Beginning of the World, c. 1920, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark

 

I encountered many hardships during my internship, like dodging masses of people while leading tours in the galleries…

Fernando and Humberto Campana, Banquete chair with pandas, designed 2006, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

 

…and noon-time computer crashes.

Emma-O, Japan, late 16th-early 17th century, Dallas Museum of Art, Wendover Fund in memory of Alfred and Juanita Bromberg and Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

 

However, I soon found my bliss researching teaching materials and leading teacher workshops.

Manjusri, Nepal, 18th century, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Mrs. E.R. Brown

 

Before I knew it, the internship was coming to a close, and I became reflective of my time….

Andrew Wyeth, That Gentleman, 1960, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

 

Now, I am looking forward and excited to be heading off to graduate school to study 18th- and 19th-century French art.

Emile Bernard, Bridge at Pont-Aven, 1891, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Estate of Ina MacNaughton

 

I’ve greatly enjoyed my time at the DMA and am so thankful to have been a McDermott Intern at the Museum this year!  I want to thank you too, our educator partners, who made my job so enjoyable.  Have a lovely summer!

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Resources

Educator Resources: Five Outside Online Resources

Several weeks ago for parts one and two of our Educator Resources series, I wrote about three wonderful DMA online resources and field trip grant opportunities.  For the third installment of our series, we wanted to introduce to you five phenomenal online resources from other arts institutions

1. Metropolitan Museum of Art Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

The Heilbrunn Timeline, produced by Metropolitan Museum of Art curators and education staff, presents maps, timelines, thematic essays, works of art, and indexes from prehistory to the present day.  Launched in 2000, the Timeline continues to expand in scope and depth and reflect the most up-to-date scholarship.

2. ArtsConnectEd

ArtsConnectEd, a joint venture between the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center, provides two key features: “Art Finder” and “Art Collector.”  Art Finder offers textual, audio, video, and interactive resources regarding works of art from the two collections, while Art Collector allows users to save and customize resources through comments, tags, and ratings. 

3. Art 21

Art21 produces Art: 21: Art in the Twenty-First Century, an Emmy-nominated PBS series that highlights contemporary art and artists, in addition to books, online resources, and public programs.  The mission of Art21 is to create a living history of contemporary art by presenting contemporary artists discussing their work in their own words.  This is done in hopes of ultimately increasing the accessibility and knowledge of contemporary art. 

Artists represented in our galleries at the Museum such as John Baldessari, Trenton Doyle Handcock, and Bruce Nauman have been featured in past series.

4. MoMA’s Modern Teachers

Modern Teachers is an online resource offered by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  The site provides educator guides, lessons, and images related to the Museum’s collection.  These resources span modern art of the 1880s, including Post-Impressionism and Symbolism, to recent 21st-century works.

5. ArtBabble

ArtBabble is an initiative of the Indianapolis Museum of Art that showcases video content from a variety of arts institutions, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the Museum of Arts and Design, among others.

Enjoy exploring these resources, and please share in the comments below any additional resources you find useful when teaching about art in your classroom!

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Teacher Programs and Resources

Educator Resources: Funding for Field Trips

One of the best ways to connect your students with art and the cultures they’ve been learning about in the classroom is to bring them to the Museum.  Each year Museum staff and docents tour hundreds of students from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and school tours are one of the most enjoyable aspects of our days.  The Museum is entirely FREE for students, teachers, and their chaperones on school tours, and the only cost to you is your bus.  We realize that even the cost of a bus can limit you and your students’ ability to visit the Museum.  So, we’d like to share several opportunities to subsidize the cost of your transportation to and from the Museum.

1. Target Field Trip Grants

Target launched its grant program in 2007 and has awarded almost $10 million in grants, allowing students and teachers from all fifty states to extend the classroom to the world of museums, historical sites, and cultural organizations.  Each Target store awards three grants up to $700 to K-12 schools nationwide.  Applications for the 2011-2012 school year open August 1st!

2. DART Transit Education

DART’s Community/Education Outreach Program provides support for public and private schools, grades 1-12 in thirteen DFW-area cities.  The program offers a twenty-minute on-site presentation about public transportation, safety, and rules of conduct.  Then, classes can be transported FREE to a number of different Dallas sites, including the Arts District and Fair Park.  For more information and to schedule a program, see the DART site.

The Museum offers both docent-guided and self-guided  tours, which can be scheduled online.  Museum visits for the 2011-2012 school year can be reserved beginning in August, and request forms will be available online.  The calendar does fill quickly, so please schedule programs as early as possible.  We look forward to seeing you and your students at the Museum!

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Resources

Form/Unformed: Goldilocks and the Chairs

This past December, the Tower Gallery on the fourth floor of the Museum became home to Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present.  This exhibition showcases over thirty works drawn largely from the Museum’s collections and reveals the ever-evolving formal aesthetics and ideas that have influenced design of the last fifty years.  Featuring everything from room dividers to candlesticks, the space pays homage to design powerhouses such as Verner Panton, Frank Gehry, Donald Judd, and Louise Campbell.  Though a broad array of objects appear in the exhibition, one cannot help but notice an overwhelming number of chairs

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Like Goldilocks entering the three bears’ home, we are presented with a selection of chairs ranging across all shapes and sizes.  As our exhibitions currently have a heavy empahsis on design, with Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement and Line and Form: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wasmuth Portfolio, the Education staff began brainstorming how our society describes furniture and what appeals to us about various pieces.  In an effort to find the chair that is JUST RIGHT for you, here are some of the descriptors that may appear on any one of our wish lists for the perfect chair: organic, innovative, angular, minimal, sturdy, plush, colorful, weird, comfy, casual, simple, unique, futuristic, traditional, embellished, symmetrical, asymmetrical, functional, imaginative, elegant, versatile, compact, playful, practical, nostalgic, modern….As you can see, there are as many different ways to describe a chair as opinions on what qualities make the perfect chair!

What words describe your ideal chair?  Share with us in the comments section!

Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present will run through January of 2012 and is free with general admission to the Museum.

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Programs and Resources for Teachers

Longtime Curator “Travels” DMA’s Silk Road

Following her new installation in the third-floor galleries of objects that reflect transport along Eurasia’s  Silk Road, “seasoned” curator Dr. Anne Bromberg sat down with us to discuss her fascinating career. A lifelong Dallasite—except for her years at Harvard getting her B.A. in anthropology and M.A. and Ph.D. in classical art and archaeology—Dr. Bromberg has been on the staff of the Dallas Museum of Art for more than forty years, first as a lecturer and docent trainer beginning in 1962, then as head of the education department, and currently as The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art. What’s more, she has led an inspired life, traveling extensively to little-known locales, researching and experiencing the cultures within her discipline.

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Q: How would you describe your job at the DMA?

AB: Most curatorial jobs involve trying to acquire art for the museum, organizing exhibitions and/or working on exhibitions that come to us from elsewhere, publishing, lecturing, working with volunteers, [and] cultivating donors. In terms of legwork, it’s going around and seeing dealers and other collections, visiting other museums, going to conferences, and giving lectures outside the museum.

Q: You are in charge of a very diverse area of the Museum’s collections. What is your particular area of expertise?

AB: Classical art, meaning the art of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and all Asian art, but I’m mainly working with South Asian art.

Q: How did you become interested in Asian art?

AB: One of the really outstanding teachers I had taught evolution in her biology courses, including historical geology, and I was really fascinated with historical geology and that got me into reading about archaeology. And I thought, this is what I want to do. A good teacher makes a difference. I’ve actually been interested in Asia for a long, long time. When I was an undergraduate, I was reading books on Zen Buddhism and haiku, the Ramayana, and things like that. Books stimulate your passion to go see these things in reality.

Q: What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled to?

AB:  I think both my husband, Alan, and I would say the single favorite place we’ve been is Isfahan in Persia. Italy, of all the European countries, is easily the most seductive, and everybody I know who has been to India is dying to get back. We’ve been there so many times, and you feel like you’ve just scratched the surface.”

Q: What is your favorite object within the ancient and Asian collections at the DMA? Within another collection?

AB: The Shiva Nataraja, because that image is the single most important iconic image in Hinduism generally, and many Hindus would agree with that. It is exceptionally beautiful both aesthetically and because it represents the loving quality of the god Shiva. South Indian Hindu poems describe worship as falling in love with the god, and our Shiva Nataraja is the embodiment of that Chola period poetry.

Brancusi’s Beginning of the World. because of my background, I personally have a strong response to pure geometric forms and classical idealism, and I’m certainly not alone in believing that the ancient Greeks would appreciate that classical, pure, and geometric vision of the beginning of the world.

Q: Do you personally collect art? What types of objects are you most drawn to?

AB: Primarily we’ve collected what I would call third-world contemporary art—things that at the time were being made wherever—New Guinea, India, South America, Mexico, etc.

Q: Why do you think it is important for people to study non-Western art?

AB: If you study non-Western art, you’ll learn what human beings create and why. If you stick only to your own civilization, you are much less likely to think about why these things are being made . . . or about a much more serious question to me, why do we call it art?

Q: Describe your current project, an installation of objects from the DMA’s collections focusing on the Silk Road.

AB: The Silk Road installation is something that has interested me for a long time. We do have a lot of artwork that really displays the meaning of the Silk Road, which tied Eurasia together for millennia. So I was delighted when I got a space where I could show the ties between the Mediterranean world and Asia.

The Silk Road is an ancient transcontinental network of trade routes that spread across Eurasia from the Mediterranean to China and Japan. The phenomenon of the Silk Road is constantly studied and has recently been featured in museum exhibitions around the world. The new installation, organized by Dr. Bromberg, addresses six themes related to the Silk Road, including the development of cities and trade, the importance of animals to early societies, and the spread of religions. The installation presents well-known DMA favorites, such as the Javanese Ganesha and the bust of a man from Palmyra, and new works from several local private collections. Opening this weekend, come see the new installation on Level 3 the next time you visit the DMA.

Ashley Bruckbauer is the McDermott Intern for Programs and Resources for Teachers at the Dallas Museum of Art and Madelyn Strubelt is the McDermott Curatorial Intern of Ancient and Asian Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Teaching with Art from the Himalayas and Southeast Asia

Fellow Teaching Programs Intern Ashley Bruckbauer and I, recently led a docent training session that highlighted six objects from the Himalayas and Southeast Asia.  We wanted to familiarize docents with objects from these areas, discuss teaching strategies for works with religious significance, as well as consider overarching themes within the Asian collection that would encourage students to make connections within their own lives.          

Ashley started the training session talking about the Silk Road Trade Route and how it introduced Buddhism into different regions of Asia. Buddhism originated in India and is based on the teachings of Prince Siddhartha, who became known as the Buddha, or Enlightened One. He taught that all life is suffering, but renouncing desires and the self can lead to a state of enlightenment beyond both suffering and existence. Buddhism is no longer as widely practiced in India but has spread to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the Far East through missionary activity. Today, it is one of the world’s largest religions.         

We then had docents look at and discuss the six works of art. These objects inspired the two themes for our docent training: Opulent Buddhas and Ferocious Protectors.

 1. Opulent Buddhas
The objects presented under this theme were the Buddha Sakyamuni, Manjusri, and the Buddha Muchalinda. These objects represented three examples of Buddha figures heavily adorned with lavish materials.  What can we learn from these objects, sculpted in opulent materials? Buddhists consider gold the supreme color, which is why many of their images are gilded. Bronze figures are sometimes coated with another metal before gilding. Gem-encrusted, gilded statues would have been created to inspire meditation among the monks in a Buddhist monastery. It also symbolizes the spiritual wealth of the Buddha.

  • The Buddha Sakyamuni is shown standing in his princely clothing. He is wearing a robe or Sanghati, with a jeweled belt, collar and crown. He also has a jeweled inlay urna or third eye, on his forehead as well.  His hand gesture, or mudra, symbolizes protection, meaning “fear not.”
  • Manjusri is the bodhisattva of divine wisdom. He is considered to be the founder of Buddhist culture. He is always shown as a youthful crowned prince. He carries traditional emblems: the Buddhist scriptures on a lotus flower and the sword that cuts ignorance.  His left hand is raised in a gesture of teaching. His sweet and placid character embodies peaceful consolation.
  • The Buddha Muchalinda represents a moment in the Buddha’s enlightenment. The Buddha was sitting under a tree in deep meditation, when rising waters were sent by a demon to drown him. The Naga or serpent king, came from beneath the earth, raised the Buddha above the rising waters on his snake coils and protected him with his seven cobra heads.

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 2. Ferocious Protectors
The second group of objects discussed were the Guardian Snow Lions, Rearing Lion, and the Dharmapala Lhamo.  Ferocious animals and wrathful deities have symbolic significance and are an important decorative element in Buddhist art. Why might it have been necessary for these objects to appear frightening? Fierce sculptures such as these are made to adorn  the Buddha’s throne and protect the Buddhist law and scriptures.

  • These Guardian Snow Lions are shown heavily ornamented with a jeweled crown and decorative chains as well as elaboration of bodily features, such as the curls in the mane, tail and leg fur. Flames of wisdom, which represent light or transformation, flare up from the shoulders and the head. Their ferocity is shown by their large sharp fangs, powerful claws and brawny build. The lions would have guarded entrances of temples and demarcated sacred grounds. They also protect against evil spirits and are depicted in Buddhist art supporting the Buddha’s throne.
  • A figure like the Rearing Lion would have supported the exterior base of temples, lintels, thrones, pedestals or platforms. The details of the face, such as the squared mouth and the treatment of the eyebrows with a relief-design between eyes, are associated with the royal temple of Koh Ker. Koh Ker was the capital of the Khmer Empire during the 10th century. The Khmer Empire is now present-day Cambodia.
  • The Dharmapala Lhamo is one of eight Dharmapalas or Great Protectors of the Buddhist law and scriptures. She is typically illustrated as a bloodthirsty and terrifying character riding a mule or donkey and adorned with a crown of skulls, garland of decapitated heads, and a human skin worn as a cape. She also has flaming hair, bulging eyes and a corpse in her mouth. The goddess rides through a sea of blood accompanied by two hybrid female deities.  She would be used by monks for meditation, helping to transform anger and energy into creative energy needed to achieve enlightenment.

Karen A. Colbert
Teaching Programs Intern

Buddha Sakyamuni, Khmer Empire (Thailand), 13th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and Wendover Fund
Manjusri, Nepal or Tibet, 18th century, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Mrs. E.R. Brown
Buddha Muchalinda, Khmer Empire (Cambodia), Dallas Museum of Art, Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund
Guardian Snow Lions, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, 1875, Gift of David T. Owsley via Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation
Rearing Lion, Cambodia: Koh Ker period, 10th century, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, The Museum League Fund
Dharmapala Lhamo, Tibet, 18th century AD, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley through Alconda-Owsley Foundation

Educator Resources: Three Excellent Online Resources from the DMA

As educators, we know you all are always looking for fantastic resources to benefit both you and your students in and outside the classroom.  However, these resources can be hard to come by, especially if you don’t know where to look.

So, we are beginning a series on Educator Resources to highlight some of the materials and opportunities available to you and your students.  This month, we will begin by talking about various online resources available through the Museum and accessible on our main web site

1. Teaching Materials

Under the “Educators” tab of the main website, select “Teaching Resources” and then “Teaching Materials.”  This portion of our website offers over thirty FREE downloadable “packets” of information, organized by theme, age level, or collection.  Some examples include Silver in America, A Looking Journey (4th grade), and Arts of the Americas.  These packets include introductory information, images of art objects, and classroom activities, along with bibliographies and printable materials. 

This portion of our online offerings is currently in a period of transition.  Through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant, to be discussed here later this month by Nicole, the materials are being revamped to better suit teacher needs.  As we begin to add new and updated materials, the original materials and packets will still be online for your use.

2. Collections Online

Another fantastic resource to be found on the Museum web site are the Collections Online or Search Collections features.  Several of our staff are working tirelessly to present the over 20,000 objects within the DMA collection to online audiences.  Currently, over 6,300 works have been added to the online database and are searchable through the website.  When viewing these objects online, users have access to images, basic object information, and notes from the curators.  Objects can be sorted by collection area (i.e. African, Asian, etc.), artist, and object name.  Users can also create a FREE eMuseum account to group and save images in customizable packets.

3. DMA TV

Finally from the main website, you can access DMA TV.  This resource includes both videos and podcasts created by the Museum, ranging from interviews with curators and artists (i.e. this video interview with painter Luc Tuymans) to recordings of past lectures (i.e. Yale University Anthropology Professor, Michael D. Coe’s presentation: The True History of Chocolate). 

We hope that you will take the time to explore the many wonderful online resources the DMA has to offer and find ways to incorporate them into your lesson preparation or classroom teaching.  Don’t forget to check back in the coming months for posts about other educator resources, including online resources from other institutions, area adult learning opportunities, and local and national grants.

If you have any additional tips for your fellow educators, please leave a comment below!

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Resources

Artist Spotlight: Emile Bernard

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with our docents about two paintings within the collection by 19th-century, French artist Emile Bernard (1868-1941).  Both of these works feature Breton women (from the region of Brittany in France) in traditional festival attire.  In the late-19th century, the villages of Brittany, like many other rural sites outside Paris, had become the center of various artist colonies.  The most well-documented of these sites is the city of Pont-Aven, which between 1886 and 1894 became the stomping ground of notable artists such as Paul Gauguin, Paul Serusier, and Emile Bernard.  This cast of characters, along with an international array of artists from countries such as Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, became known as the Pont-Aven School and triumphed a pared-down aesthetic that departed from the naturalism of Impressionism and emphasized a synthesis of the impressions of nature and abstract forms that underlined emotional experience. 

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Brittany was fertile ground for the Pont-Aven School artists because of its association with an exotic aesthetic that played up the primitivism of the picturesque peasants and overlooked the industrial developments and spread of Parisian taste and sophistication to the not-so-remote villages.  In this sense, what the artists left out–factories, commericalism, and modern advancements–become just as much the subject of the work as what they included.

Bernard first visited Brittany in 1886 and would return to the region the next four summers.  In 1888, he worked closely with Paul Gauguin, and together they launched the Synthesist style that characterized much of the work coming out of Pont-Aven.  Bernard was inspired by Medieval cloisonne, or the technique of applying enamel partitions within stained glass.  He and Gauguin, like many artists of the period, also looked to Japanese prints for inspiration and a means to rejuvenate the European style. 

The two DMA paintings by Bernard are dated 1891 and 1892 by the artist in the lower right-hand corner of the canvases next to his signature.  In 1893, he left for a ten-year soujourn in Egypt and would not return to Brittany until 1910 for a brief stay and 1939-1940 for an extended stay the year before his death.

“Othering” is the act of creating an uneven power hierarchy through the myth of a binary of “us” and “them.”  This serves tp emphasize the percieved weaknesses of “them,” or the marginalized society, as a means of underlining the superiority and right to power of “us.”

These works of art can be used with students at the Museum or in the classroom.  They are a great jumping off point to think about exoticism and its role in art.  Exoticism is typically associated with well-known works by Orientalist painters such as Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres and primitivists like Paul Gauguin.  The Pont-Aven School works embody similar ideas of “othering,” except that the exotic projections take place within France and become a sort of internal othering.   What other examples of othering, based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. can you think of in art and popular visual culture?

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Teacher Programs and Resources

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