Archive for the 'Behind-the-Scenes' Category

Some Assembly Required

Have you ever wandered through the galleries at the DMA and thought to yourself, “Hmm, I wonder how they got this huge sculpture up those steps?” or “Wow! I bet it was really hard to hang that giant painting!” If you have, this post is for you! In one of the DMA’s newest installations, Women + Design: New Works, there are several pieces that required significant effort on the part of the DMA’s Collections team to install. Check out these behind-the-scenes photos and fun facts from the installation process, and visit the Museum to see these works in person—and for FREE—now through Sunday, February 17, 2019, in the Mary Noel and Bill Lamont Gallery.

Iris 3Objects Conservator Fran Baas adjusts the laser-cut polyester lace on Iris van Herpen’s Voltage Dress.

Najla 1A team of preparators works on lowering the two pieces of Najla El Zein’s Seduction onto the platform. Each piece of the sculpture weighs approximately 1,500 pounds and needs to be moved with a gantry crane. The lower stone was placed first, and then the upper stone had to be carefully lowered onto it.

Mobile 1Fran Baas, Lance Lander, and Mike Hill review the instructions for assembling Faye Toogood’s Tools for Life Mobile 2. Because the components of the mobile are heavy, the team had to know exactly what to do to minimize unnecessary handling.

Mobile 2Mike Hill and John Lendvay work to assemble Tools for Life Mobile 2 as it hangs from the ceiling.

DougDoug Velek takes measurements for the two pieces of jewelry by Katie Collins. Prior to installing the work, the preparators made the wedges and lifts used to display the jewelry in the exhibition. After confirming that the necklaces were centered on the wedge, preparators used pins to secure them in place.

SS and RSCurator Sarah Schleuning and preparator Russell Sublette discuss the placement of the three stools by Faye Toogood.

Katie Province is an Assistant Registrar for Collections and Exhibitions at the DMA.

It’s in the Family: The Impact of a Handmade Dress

Working in an exciting place like the Center for Creative Connections (C3), I get to have conversations with visitors about how works of art can conjure specific memories that we pack away in our brains. So in May, when C3 had the idea for an open call for DMA staff to submit their own personal objects and accessories to be on view in the gallery, it felt like discovering buried treasures. What began as an employee’s small, digitally submitted story evolved into a captivating display of objects on view, many with rich family histories.

Jessica Kyle, who has worked at the DMA as the Donor Communications & Operations Specialist since January 2018, submitted several childhood dresses handmade by her grandmother Betty Jo Kyle in 1994. Jessica’s family flew her grandmother in from California a few weeks ago and I was lucky enough to chat with them about the dress and the lasting influence it has had on Jessica throughout her life.

001

Betty Jo Kyle and granddaughter Jessica Kyle

Betty Jo, by practice, is a cross-stitcher. The oldest of eight siblings, she refined her sewing practice by creating doll clothes from scrap fabrics—a skill she learned from her mother, although she admits she didn’t reach her level of skill. “Even in high school, we had sewing, but it was all basics,” she recalls. “So, by me sewing, the teacher would say, ‘Well, you just do what you want to do.’ She didn’t teach me anything else. I could have learned more if she had. She mostly just taught the kids who couldn’t get a stitch or hem in.”

Initially, Betty Jo’s grandchildren were all boys, so it didn’t lend much for clothing creation, particularly dresses. It wasn’t until Jessica was born that she had the desire to make dresses she would see in magazines. She even often made matching dresses for Jessica’s Barbie dolls. “I remember receiving the clothes that my grandma would make, and I would be so excited. I would be like, ‘Ooh, I have custom-made clothes in my closet!’ Even as a four year old, I can remember that.” Jessica says with a smile. “It’s funny, when you’re younger, you don’t realize how meaningful and important these types of things are to the family legacy. When you become an adult you really appreciate all these creations.”

These days, with her grandchildren grown up, Betty Jo focuses more on cross-stitching than dressmaking, but she still hangs on to her now-vintage sewing machine of decades past—an artwork in itself, as Jessica puts it. For Jessica, the summers she spent learning to cross-stitch with her grandmother in Compton, California, were transformative in how she sees herself as an artist and painter today. “It showed me that if you put the time in, and care for all those little details, you create a true work of art. It taught me to appreciate the whole process.”

See Jessica’s childhood dress and learn about other personal objects and accessories from DMA staff and the Museum’s collection on view until December 10 in the front gallery of the Center for Creative Connections.

Kerry Butcher is the Center for Creative Connections Education Coordinator at the DMA.

Foxes and Fireflies: An Interview with Mel Remmers

When we found local artist Mel Remmers’s Instagram account, we were drawn to her distinct artistic style. With her wide-eyed, emotionally captivating portraiture, witty captions, and some sneak peek shots sprinkled into the mix, she reveals her work and process to her growing following in an engaging and down-to-earth way. Because we noticed elements of fashion, whimsicality, nature, and experimentation with textures and colors in her work, we were eager to invite her to a viewing of our Laura Owens exhibition. Inspired by Owens’s works, the paintings Remmers created welcome you into a fantasy world of their own.

 

Photo Credit: Stevie Hudspeth

Check out our interview with Remmers about her process:

Tell us about yourself as an artist.
In February 2015, I bought a child’s paint set from a grocery store. Seeking to find a creative therapy after battling cancer and needing emotional repair, I posted my first attempt at painting on Instagram and I was shocked and excited by such a positive response. I was hooked! This started Instagram becoming part of the creative process. As my following grew fast, I sold my first painting after four weeks, and as of November 2017 my 400th sold.

My paintings started out as fashion-inspired female figures, and in time I added motion to them. Now I paint portraiture that provokes a mood with either dark shadows or the expressions in the eyes. I am also fascinated by light and have focused periods with black-and-white paintings as well as ink. The majority of my paintings consist of multiple mediums and tools such as gold foil and others as I have discovered them. Hand-painted wallpaper with a nature-inspired theme has become my most requested commission and my new obsession.

What was your first impression of the Laura Owens exhibition?
As I walked into the exhibit, my eyes drew on the immense scale, the bold and playful works. Then as I moved closer I was lost in the details of unexpected elements, heavily sculpted paint textures, and her no-fear use of PINK.

What did you find most inspiring about this exhibition?
Most notably, the grand scale of her work. I have a strong desire to “Go Big”—paint on walls or just use a larger canvas than usual. This connection brought that buzz to continue on that path.

Another inspiring spark was the variance of her work. The abstract collages flowing to whimsical childlike characters of animals was a delightful scene.

I was also thrilled to see her unexpected three-dimensional elements and use of materials like felt, and her beehive painting where it looked like bees were buzzing above the canvas.

What was the painting process for your pieces like?
As I walked away from the exhibit, reflecting and imagining this collaboration, I knew to go with my gut response. Fireflies were my first whisper, and I wanted to play off the forest scene where you find animals peeping throughout the painting.

Since I usually do not plan or sketch, I started with the trees and then water emerged. All of this is evolving while I am filming to Instagram, and my specific music choices have come to set the mood of where I am in the process.

RemmersDMACollection Reflections-1

I am a fast painter so I wanted to be patient and take my time. That equaled four days of nine hours at a time, and that also included a second painting that I felt told more of the story. The water, with its intense color and light reflection of the first painting, became the continuation of the story in the second painting and introduced a new character, the glitter fox.

These paintings are made with acrylics, some oils, chalk, pastel, and ink, and the fireflies are made of tiny crystals and glitter glue.

MelRemmers ForestFinal 1

Remmers GlitterFox1

What elements or themes from Laura Owens’s work did you incorporate into your pieces?
My collaborative theme became nature. I wanted to bring a sense of belonging. I usually focus on a feminine theme, and now she became a living part of it. Her dress inspiration was taken from a large impasto glob from one of Laura’s abstracts that I found crazy good. So her dress looks like a dripping, thick waterfall floating into the water.

Do you have any other takeaways from this experience?
My takeaway is LIMITLESS. In a world where the trending word is “brand,” Laura Owens does not have a limit to her visions or exclusivity. She goes from sky high drawings of cats to a wild abstract collage. Laura’s work has calmed my doubts of risk taking, opened a larger vision, and given my creations a wider world to live in and explore. And, glitter glue IS a medium.

Hayley Caldwell is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

Visions of Home: An Interview with Artist Ellie Ivanova

This summer, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) is thrilled to have C3 Visiting Artist Ellie Ivanova here to design interactive in-gallery activities in which visitors contribute their visions of home. These perspectives then become part of a larger print created independently by the artist at her studio before finally being installed back in C3. Get to know more about Ellie and her project below, and stop by the Center for Creative Connections to contribute your own drawing to the project.

Ellie portrait

Tell us about yourself.
I am an artist who uses photography, but goes beyond the print. I have lived in several countries (Bulgaria, Latin America, the United States, and Italy) and am grateful for all the people I have met in all the places where I have lived who have shaped my experience.

What motivated you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project?
As a researcher pursuing a PhD in Art Education, my special interest is in public pedagogy, which is everything we learn from each other in informal ways outside of a classroom environment and everything we do when sharing experiences through art. Having changed homes myself many times, and living in between two homes right now, I found an affinity with people who are longing for a lost home or dreaming for one. I wanted to see what would happen when all our different ideas of home come together, and what better place to experiment with this than Dallas Museum of Art!

Tell us about the installation you’ve created in the Center for Creative Connections.
It is a participatory print, in which many different small drawings of homes—lost, dreamt, and found—are contributed by visitors on squares of transparency. Using these as photographic negatives, I put together these drawings to print a “neighborhood” of the collected homes on photo-sensitized fabric. I’m using the cyanotype process, an old photo process that has been used through the decades for scientific and architectural imaging along with creative art making. Even though a home is something personal, a place that separates us from the rest of the world, with this project we see how different or similar our ideas of home look like when they are brought together.

 

 

Ellie c3 project

C3 Visiting Artist Project Space

Do you have any favorite visitor contributions you’d like to share?
The simplest drawings have been most delightful! Of course, I enjoy the elaborate, detailed homes done by other artists or others who are invested in the process. But when we have to draw simply, the bare bones of thought show through. I enjoy seeing how our basic image of what a home is can translate into being something so creative.

fabric closeup
Kerry Butcher is the Center for Creative Connections Education Coordinator at the DMA.

What’s next in the Quadrant Galleries?

We bid farewell to Edward Steichen’s In Exaltation of Flowers this week. The lavender walls and gold-leafed canvases will go off view on May 13 and the space will be prepped to hold a selection of newly acquired posters from the Guerrilla Girls Portfolio Compleat (opening May 26, more details provided in a future Uncrated post).

Fortunately, two new installations of contemporary art will open the same weekend the Steichen exhibition comes to a close. In the Stoffel Quadrant, eleven large sculptural works will adorn the walls and floor. Lynda Benglis’s Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), a colorful river of poured latex, is representative of the scale and non-traditional materials explored by this selection of artists. Elise Armani, the McDermott Intern for Contemporary Art, chose these works, all of which were created by women whose work resists the crisp geometries associated with the male-dominated Minimalist movement. Instead, Armani wants viewers to recognize the ways each piece interacts with its surrounding and raises questions about the relationship between works of art, physics, anatomy, and psychology. Contemporary culture, environmentalism, and daily routines are critiqued in works by Annette Lawrence and N.Dash. Lawrence draws attention to the proliferation of junk mail and wasted materials by transforming strips of paper into a wall relief. Dash’s blackened, folded paper sculpture is the result of her methodical handiwork aboard the New York subway.

Another group of works by women artists will be on view in the Stoffel Quadrant (formerly home to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room). The installation, Soft Focus, will contain nearly thirty photographs drawn from the DMA’s permanent collection and local lenders. Some images, like Kunie Sugiura’s Central Park 3, broaden the traditional understanding of photography by relying on alternative applications of light sensitive materials. Also included will be an example of Diane Arbus’s iconic approach to portraiture. Other photographers whose works will be on view are women who participated in mainstream art movements but rarely received equal critical acclaim as their male counterparts.

images: Lynda Benglis, Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), 1969, poured pigmented latex, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2003.2 © Lynda Benglis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Annette Lawrence, Free Paper 12 / 05, 2006–2008, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund 2008.100.A-E © Annette Lawrence; N. Dash, Commuter (New York, 2013), 2013, graphite and paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Bonnie L. Pitman in honor of Deedie Rose and Catherine Rose 2016.63; Kunie Sugiura, Central Park 3, 1971, photo emulsion and acrylic on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund 2016.11.1; Diane Arbus, Untitled, 1968, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant 1975.82 © Estate of Diane Arbus

Emily Schiller is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA

The Mayer Library Collects: Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA

Of the work we do in the library, one of the most enjoyable is collection development…  A.K.A buying books! Materials purchased for the library’s collection primarily support research on the DMA’s encyclopedic collection and exhibitions. One of the most significant areas in which the library collects is exhibition catalogues published by museums and galleries from all over the world. Exhibition catalogues provide current research, photographs, and documentation of works of art, and function as primary sources of historical information for scholars.

A great example of this is the recent purchase of over 20 catalogues from the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition program. Pacific Standard Time (PST) is a collaborative program established in 2011 that brings Southern California arts institutions together to present exhibitions on a particular theme connected to the Los Angeles region. Previous iterations were Art in L.A. 1945-1980 and Modern Architecture in L.A. The 2017-2018 PST iteration, LA/LA, explored Latin American and Latino art, featuring art from ancient times to the present across a variety of disciplines.

The catalogues from this series of exhibitions will serve as authoritative resources for the study of Latin American art at the DMA. For example, the exhibition Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas featured the DMA’s Incan checkboard tunic, which is also discussed in the catalogue (page 172, catalog no. 73).

And there were two career survey exhibitions for artists in the DMA collection: Valeska Soares and Adriana Varejão.

Here are a few more highlights:

You can see a list of all the Pacific Standard Time catalogues held by the Mayer Library here.

The Mayer Library is open to the public. Check the library’s page on DMA.org for current hours.

 

Jenny Stone is the Librarian at the DMA.

In Search of Brandon Kirby and the Golden Spider

Earlier this month, the DMA’s exhibition The Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana opened to the public. What you may not know is that the entire exhibition of more than 250 objects was inspired by a few works from the DMA’s collection. The DMA Member Magazine, Artifacts, explored two of these objects in the Winter 2018 issue. Discover more about the inspiration behind the exhibition and the history of these beautiful pieces:

In 2014, two finely crafted gold artworks joined the Dallas Museum of Art’s holdings of West African regalia. The cast gold spider and T-shaped bead arrived in an elegant velvet-lined display box bearing an inscription with the following information: the items came from the Asante kingdom, were once owned by the kings, and left their original home in 1883.

Sword ornament in the form of a spider, Ghana, Asante peoples, late 19th century, gold-copper-silver alloy, Dallas Museum of Art, McDermott African Art Acquisition Fund, 2014.26.1

Dr. Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific, and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the DMA, began a multi-year investigation into the works’ journey from the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) to Texas. This research inspired The Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana, the first exhibition to focus on Asante royal regalia in over three decades. The Cree family were previous owners of the objects, and in their oral history detailing the objects’ relocation from Africa to England they mention a man named Robert L. Brandon Kirby. Who was Brandon Kirby and how did he come to own these ornate examples of gold craftsmanship? These questions drove Walker to dig through British Parliamentary Papers, correspond with international archivists and scholars, and trace census records throughout the US and Europe. Born in Australia in 1852 as Robert Low Kirby, and later recorded under the surname Brandon Kirby and then Brandon-Kirby, he traveled in 1881 to the British colony, where he served in the Gold Coast Constabulary, a police force. He earned the respect of the British governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Samuel Rowe, and during a mission in 1884 he was tasked with delivering letters from Sir Samuel to the kingdom’s various paramount chiefs regarding the pending selection of an heir to the Golden Stool (throne).

Walker’s reconstructed narrative identifies this tour through the Asante kingdom as the context for Brandon Kirby’s possession of the cast gold spider and T-shaped bead, which were probably bestowed upon him by Prince Agyeman Kofi, later known as Asantahene (king) Kwaku Dua II.

Pendant, Ghana, Asante peoples, late 19th century, gold-copper-silver alloy, Dallas Museum of Art, McDermott African Art Acquisition Fund, 2014.26.2

The following year, Brandon Kirby partnered with James Cree (d. 1891), a wealthy Scotsman, to buy cattle ranches in the Territory of New Mexico, thus the Asante spider and bead arrived in the US. According to Cree family lore, Brandon Kirby’s dramatic departure from New Mexico forced him to travel light, leaving behind his mementos of his time in the Gold Coast.

The intricate castings were then passed through generations of the Cree family, landing in Austin, Texas. From there, it was only a few hundred miles and years of research before their reintroduction at the DMA in The Power of Gold. A final historical resource soon joined the spider and bead at the DMA and recently entered the Museum’s collection—an album of photographs by Frederick Grant dated 1883–84 and featuring Brandon Kirby in Kumasi, the capital of the Asante kingdom.

Frederick Grant, Ashanti and West Central Africa, 1883-4 (cover), 1883–84, leather, copper alloy, and paper, Dallas Museum of Art, African Collection Fund, 2017.12

Frederick Grant, Ashanti and West Central Africa, 1883-4 (detail), 1883–84, leather, copper alloy, and paper, Dallas Museum of Art, African Collection Fund, 2017.12

Find out more about Brandon Kirby and the golden spider in the beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue that accompanies the exhibition.

Dr. Emily Schiller is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA.


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