Archive for the 'Center for Creative Connections' Category

Building Community Through Art

Growing up in a Puerto Rican-Panamanian household in Austin, the arts were one of the primary ways that my sister and I learned about our family’s cultural heritage. Our bedtime stories were folktales, vejigante masks and molas—not unlike the one currently on view in the Center for Creative Connections—hung on the walls, and in the evenings, Papi would teach us merengue while Mami would fry tostones

After my interview at the DMA last summer, I spent time in the Arts of the Americas Galleries, where I stumbled upon a case of golden pendants from Panamá. Despite being miles away from family, it felt like a piece of my mother and the generations that came before her were with me. It felt like a glittering sign that said, I see you, and you belong here

During national Welcoming Week, an annual event where communities “bring together immigrants and those born within their countries in a spirit of unity,” the DMA is proud to reaffirm our commitment to making the Museum a place where everyone feels valued and welcomed. 

Indeed, a core tenet of the DMA’s mission is placing art and diverse communities at the center from which everything radiates. Yet what does that look like in practice? Here are some of the ways: 

  • By recognizing that while museums are spaces of learning and engagement, they are also rooted in colonial structures and are complicated spaces. The Museum’s cross-departmental committee focusing on linguistic and cultural equity is grappling with this tension in earnest. How do we reckon with our institution’s past? What contributes to a sense of belonging? What kinds of internal and external transformations need to occur? What does that mean for our spaces, staff, programming, and exhibitions?
  • By inviting community members and leaders to help shape the 2020 My/gration C3 exhibition, which highlights the contributions of artists who immigrated to the United States, examines how the movement of people is expressed through art, and illuminates ways cross-cultural connections inform artistic production.
  • By introducing Estampas de la Memoria, a Go van Gogh® program designed by Teaching Specialist Bernardo Velez Rico and former C3 Visiting Artist Karla García to activate Spanish-speaking elementary students’ voices and experiences through collaborative story writing, theater, and art making inspired by retablos. Learn more about the program’s teaching approach, which reflects a desire to uplift and center the knowledge of immigrant communities.
Teaching Specialist Bernardo Velez Rico facilitates a Go van Gogh® program.
Heart House youth engage in an art-making activity during an after-school program.
  • By highlighting the creative bridging of cultures through programs like author Sri Rao’s September 20 Late Night talk about his book Bollywood Kitchen, a reflection on food, film, and his experience as a second generation Indian American.
A Dallas Public Library adult English language learning class explores the galleries.

As a museum of Dallas, we strive to celebrate and reflect the diversity of our city. As of 2017, approximately 611,400 of Dallas’s 2.5 million residents were immigrants. Until 2017 Dallas was a major resettlement location, with close to 2,500 refugees arriving annually. 

With an art collection that spans time and the globe, the Museum provides windows into other worlds and perspectives, which can promote connection, empathy, and cross-cultural understanding. But perhaps art is most powerful when it functions as a mirror, reflecting our own experiences back to us, saying I see you, and you belong here. On behalf of my colleagues, I extend to you all a warm invitation and welcome, and I hope to see you soon.

Mary Ann Bonet is the Director of Community Engagement at the DMA.

C3 Visiting Artist Interview: Spencer Evans

In My Image, an installation by C3 Visiting Artist Spencer Evans in the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections, explores notions of image and identity. For this project, Evans drew inspiration from Jacques Lacan’s “Mirror Stage” theory, which suggests that children base their identity on their environment before becoming aware of their own reflection. The final product is a collaborative installation of self-portraits started by Museum visitors and completed by the artist by referencing conversations and reflections shared about each participant’s unique identity. 

We sat down with Evans to learn more about what inspires him, how he describes his art, and what his experience has been like as a C3 Visiting Artist. Check it out:

Drop by the DMA through August 2019 to see In My Image. Visitors also have the opportunity to meet Spencer Evans and learn more about his installation at the closing reception on Thursday, August 1.

Interested in making your mark on the DMA and becoming a C3 Visiting Artist for 2020? Applications are still open through August 2! Learn more about the C3 Visiting Artist Project and apply here.

Get to Know C3 Visiting Artist Karla Garcia

The C3 Visiting Artist Project is back again for 2019 with three artists from across North Texas: Karla Garcia, Spencer Evans, and the Denton-based artist collective Spiderweb Salon. Over the course of the year, we’ll be chatting with the artists to dive into the process and methodologies behind their projects presented in the Center for Creative Connections.

Our first artist of the year is Karla Garcia. Garcia’s project for C3, Carrito de Memorias (Cart of Memories), utilizes an interactive “food” cart, designed and constructed by the artist with resources at the University of North Texas Fabrication Lab. Using handmade papers, Karla invites visitors to consider our memories associated with identity, roles, and traditions when making and sharing food. We interviewed Garcia to learn more about her practice and processes as an artist. Check it out below, and visit her project in the Center for Creative Connections through the end of April!

Tell us about yourself.
I am an artist, an educator, a mother, and an MFA candidate at the University of North Texas (UNT). I am originally from the border city of Juarez, Chihuahua, where I spent my formative years before moving to El Paso, Texas. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Graphic Design from the University of Texas in El Paso, and later moved to Dallas, where I currently reside. My current practice explores the concept of home and is based on the years when I moved from Mexico to the United States.

Tell us a little about past projects that led you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project.
After being accepted into the Museum Education program at UNT, part of our curriculum was to research and collaborate with fellow classmates to create education programs for various audiences at museums. I was able to do my internship at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, where I worked with the Interpretation and Public Programs fields of the Education Department. One of my responsibilities was to set up an art cart for a few hours on Fridays. I talked to visitors about the processes of art making that were relevant to the exhibitions on display and assisted in an interactive activity for the Gabriel Dawe piece Plexus #34. My supervisor and mentor Peggy Speir was invaluable in this experience as she designed a type of loom that was used for visitors to explore the same technique that Dawe used for his large-scale artworks. I enjoyed that type of interaction, where I got to learn about the visitors’ personal lives through conversation as they learned about the artist, the museum’s collection, and processes of art making. This led me to create an art cart activity for a Louise Nevelson piece, Lunar Landscape, by painting blocks of wood black to be used to form compositions and explore the artist’s creative process. These activities inspired me to design my own art cart titled Carrito de Memorias (Cart of Memories), where I explore ways of creating an engaging activity to enable the public to connect to artworks from the DMA’s collection and connect to other people through the display of the community’s personal experiences.

Tell us about the installation you’ve created in the Center for Creative Connections.
I wanted to create an art cart inspired by the history of ancient Mexico and the food carts I visited when growing up in Juarez. To me, a food cart is not only a place where food is easily accessible, but also a type of neutral space where people from all social backgrounds gather. I wanted to create this same inviting feeling for the C3 space, but rather than offering food, we are asking visitors questions that relate to the DMA’s collection regarding tradition, identity, and roles. It is a difficult thing to ask people you don’t know about their personal views, or asking them to share a memory. In my research, I have found that street food is an extension of our kitchen space. We form our traditions around food, and our families’ oral histories are passed on to us during holidays and personal celebrations, and even through daily routines. The cart became this extension of our personal spaces in our homes where everyone is welcome to share their stories. The menu on the tables around the cart have three options relating to gender roles, identity, and traditions. There are three artworks from the collection with a description that matches these categories. I’m thrilled to read everyone’s answers and see their drawings. With these, I will create sculptures that embody the public’s collective memories.

Join Karla Garcia for a Gallery Talk on Wednesday, March 20, from 12:15 to 1:00 p.m. Gallery Talks are included in free general admission. You can participate in an art-making activity related to the Carrito de Memorias installation in C3 at the FREE 2019 AVANCE Latino Street Fest / DMA Family Festival at Klyde Warren Park on Sunday, April 7, beginning at noon.

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

Zine Club’s “Opening Year”

What is a zine? Short for “magazine,” zines are self-published books of writing and art that are made for as little money as possible and circulated in limited quantities. Zines became popular in the 1970s in counter-culture circles as a way of promoting art and ideas outside the mainstream media, but creators have been self-publishing their ideas for much longer! Many can trace the lineage of zines back to 1776, when Thomas Paine published “Common Sense.”

In September 2018, the DMA hosted its first Zine Club meeting for high school students. Teens have great ideas and make interesting connections between the DMA’s collection and their own lives all the time; look no further than Disconnect to Reconnect, for example, hosted by the DMA Teen Advisory Council. Zine Club is a way for teens to explore their ideas through art and share those ideas with DMA visitors and their own communities in Zine Club’s biannual issues.

Zine Club meets the first Thursday evening of the month, and it is completely free to attend and participate. Teens enjoy snacks, go to the galleries to brainstorm, and return to the studio to make pages for the zine. Everyone who attends Zine Club gets at least one page in the final issue and receives several copies of the zine to share with friends and family. Museum visitors can pick up their own copy of the zine for a limited time in the Center for Creative Connections.

After several months of creating, Zine Club presents Opening Year. Over the course of four months, nine teens, three educators, and one visiting artist explored the following questions: What do we change about ourselves to fit in with the status quo? What do images say about beauty? What stories do you want told at a museum? Click here to browse their answers for yourself!

Physical zine copies will be available in the Center for Creative Connections for a limited time this month, so plan your visit and pick up a copy the next time you’re at the Museum. Zine Club picks back up again this spring for four meetings all about personal experience and stories, so check out our upcoming meeting schedule at DMA.org. Hope to see you this spring!

Jessica Thompson-Castillo is the Manager of Teen Programs 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.

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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.

Get to Know C3 Visiting Artist Lauren Cross

The Center for Creative Connections (C3) is thrilled to host Lauren Cross as our final artist in the 2018 Visiting Artist Project. Through her practice, Cross brings her passion and knowledge for engaging communities across the DFW Metroplex to the DMA. Her project created for C3 is no different: Assembly invites visitors to independently contribute drawings of useful and meaningful objects in their lives on 4 x 4-inch cardboard squares. Every few weeks, a selection of drawings will be installed with the goal of creating a collaborative quilt. Read this interview with the artist to learn more about her project—and stop by C3 to contribute your own drawing for the quilt!

Lauren Portrait

Tell us about yourself.
I am an artist, curator, and scholar; I am a wife, and also a mother to a beautiful, vibrant 15 month old. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and also spent a lot of time in both North Texas and East Texas as a child, visiting my uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. Like many artists, I find that my work is both visually and contextually autobiographical.

Growing up within African American families with a strong impulse for oral history and cultural tradition had an important impact on my thinking as an artist. As a result, my pull within art history and cultural discourses has often looked intently at narratives that vividly describe my personal history and influences. I am the descendant of African American quilters, carpenters, builders, creatives, and culture bearers whose legacies are often reclaimed in my work.

Tell us a little about past projects that led you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project.
I have always been a teaching artist who has engaged community within my work. One of my first projects after graduating was to design an arts curriculum for a local church in Dallas. Most recently, I helped develop community art projects for my nonprofit organization, WoCA Projects. This involved a partnership with ACT United, which created a photography education and exhibition project called My Fort Worth and a commission from the City of Fort Worth that collected over 2,000 visitor responses across the city about public art.

In applying for the C3 Visiting Artist Project, I saw an opportunity to connect my interest in community with my interdisciplinary studio practice using brown paper bags, digital imaging, and installation. With that, I thought of my Everyday Use installation projects, which I felt connected well with the DMA’s permanent collection. I felt that those works in particular gave me an aesthetic and material language that would allow me to create a project that could speak to DMA visitors.

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Tell us about the installation you’ve created in the Center for Creative Connections.
The installation I created, called Assembly, is a project that allows me to speak to my practice, which has often referenced the cultural narratives surrounding both brown paper bags and quilts and their relationship to African American culture. I thought a lot about C3’s emphasis on objects as they relate to identity as inspiration. It seemed like a great opportunity for me to address the objects that I use and reference in my work and the narratives about identity that are connected to them: skin color, hierarchy, cultural heritage, and history. I was happy to have the opportunity to probe visitors to think about everyday objects that mean something to them in hopes that there could be wider conversations about the things that have meaning in our lives.

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Do you have any favorite visitor contributions you’d like to share?

visitor contributions

What have you enjoyed most about this experience so far?

I have enjoyed seeing the sheer volume of thoughtful responses from visitors to the project. It has been empowering to pose a question and to get such great feedback. As an educator, it’s like teaching a subject that your students get excited about. I have also enjoyed having the opportunity to work with various museum educators throughout the project to find ways to connect visitors to the wider themes we are dealing with.

What upcoming projects are you working on or excited about?

I have an exciting exhibition coming up at the Cliff Gallery at Mountain View College (DCCD) from November 19 to December 14. This includes a Kitchen Table Talk with African American women artists and creatives in North Texas on Thursday, November 29, from noon to 2:00 p.m. and an artist reception on Friday, December 7, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. I will also have an exhibition at the Carillon Gallery at Tarrant County College South Campus in March 2019 as a result of my artist residency there this fall.

Join C3 Visiting Artist Lauren Cross for a Gallery Talk on Wednesday, December 19, from 12:15 to 1:00 p.m. Gallery talks are included in free admission.

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

Getting Interactive: A C3 Internship Recap

My name is Brisa Marie Smith Flores. I was born and raised in Texas, and after spending six years in Pennsylvania for my undergraduate and graduate study, I was beyond excited to move back to Texas and work at the Dallas Museum of Art!
Brisa 1

Working in the Center for Creative Connections (C3) at the DMA has truly been a valuable experience. What makes the C3 Summer Internship unique is the dynamic structure of the program that caters to its interns, as well as my supervisor’s dedication to my education and growth during the summer. As an applicant, I was passionate about applying my personal research on accessibility and inclusion to my summer project. My supervisor was supportive and encouraged me to explore what interests me. With her guidance, I was able to design my own evaluation metrics, install it in C3’s Testing Zone space, interact with visitors, and compile all the data into a report to present at a department-wide meeting at the end of my term.

Brisa 2
My project consisted of three major components. The first was an interactive graph that encouraged visitors to place colorful sticky dots on a grid to denote their age, favorite C3 location, and the amount of times they had visited. The second part was a series of feedback cards that presented two or three questions specific to the things we as a department care about, as well as one open-ended question to allow visitors to share anything they wanted with us. The third component focused on visitor interaction. The process consisted of me spending time in each of our C3 spaces, watching and recording how much time our visitors spent in each specific area, what activities they gravitated toward, and which age groups enjoyed the space most.

My responsibilities were not limited to just facilitating my own project; in fact, during my time working in the Center for Creative Connections, I was able to assist with gallery rotation planning, develop new activities, and train and manage volunteers, as well as prepare and lead group workshops. These were all exciting and useful new experiences that helped enhance my skill set, confidence, and résumé.

Now that my internship is over, I’m packing up and getting ready to move to sunny California! There I will be starting my first year as a PhD student at UCLA. My passions have always been people, culture, and inclusion, and because of that, I’m focusing my future research on ways museums can be more accessible and better support their communities. Having the opportunity to work at the DMA has been invaluable to my understanding of how museums function, adapt, and think about the communities they serve. I am so thankful for this experience and all the amazing friendships I have made!

Brisa Marie Smith Flores is a C3 Summer Intern at the DMA.

 


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