Archive for the 'Creativity' Category



Art Runs in the Family

Creativity is all around us in Dallas, and we love highlighting and honoring our local creative community at the Museum. This year, we have the special opportunity to celebrate the work of two relatives: Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson, whose drawings are in For a Dreamer of Houses, and his nephew Stephen McGee, whose painting is featured in We Are ARTISTS: The Stewpot Art Program.   

Willard Watson, affectionately known as “The Texas Kid,” was raised in Dallas and wore many hats—literally and figuratively—over his lifetime. He served as a solider in the South Pacific  in World War II, and was also a tailor, a cook, a carpenter, an upholsterer, a shade-tree mechanic, a handyman, and an actor. Around town, he was best known for his creative homemade outfits, customized cars, and front yard sculpture garden.

Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson’s customized car
Photograph of Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson seated outside of his home and posing in front of the sculptures placed in his yard for his portrait. Creator: Unknown, 1993–01. This photograph is part of the collection entitled The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records and was provided by UNT Libraries Special Collections.

His artworks often included found objects and everyday materials. Using colored markers, pencil, and paper, Watson created a series of Life Cycle drawings that showed scenes from his home and family life and were narrated with vivid captions. Thinking back on his childhood in Dallas, he wrote:

My middle sister, Mable, had taken sick and I to go down to Elm Street to Otis drug store to pick up some medicine, But first I had to get some money from Daddy, who worked at S&S grocery store. I had to walk a mile down Central tracks and a mile back. And when I got Back my mother was drinking Buttermilk, I will never forget it. Tears were in her eyes, and it made me feel very Bad. She was depressed. She Loved her children so much that when one got sick she’d show it By tears. She say she Be praying But she always had tears. I kind cheered her up. The other Children were out Playing.

Willard Watson, “The Texas Kid,” born 1921 in Caddo Parish, LA; died 1995 in Dallas, TX; Untitled, 1985. Colored marker and pencil. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Friends of Willard Watson, 1985.181.8

Watson shared his love of art with his nephew Stephen McGee. McGee relished working in acrylic paint, pastels, colored pencils, and charcoal mediums. He particularly enjoyed portraiture, and he completed art projects for the nonprofit organization CitySquare that involved creating drawings of former talk show host Jay Leno, Lyle Lovett, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and Dallas Cowboy Tyron Smith. McGee had loved art since he was a small child, and next to his love for God, art was his life.

Stephen McGee working on a portrait of Robert Johnson
Retrieved April 10, 2020, from FPCDallas
Fast Cheetah by Stephen McGee

McGee became a member of the Stewpot Art Program community in 2010. The Stewpot offers a safe haven for people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness in Dallas, and the Art Program provides class time and art supplies for individuals looking to express themselves creatively, grow as artists, and support themselves through the sale of their work. You can learn more about The Stewpot and how to support their work here.

The Art Program helped McGee take his artistic practice to a higher level, form lasting friendships, and make his life more positive. McGee passed away on August 8, 2019, leaving a host of family and friends who love and remember Stephen “The Artist” McGee for his tremendous resilience, kindness, and creativity.

How are you spending time with loved ones right now? How are Willard’s scenes similar or different from your home life? Have you ever shared a special legacy with an important person in your life or passed down something you care about to a younger generation? These artworks make us think of home, family, and the ways that we can support one another during these uncertain times. 

We hope the artwork and life stories of Willard Watson and Stephen McGee inspire you to create, share joy with your loved ones, and continue to explore our city’s rich creative communities in For a Dreamer of Houses and We Are ARTISTS: The Stewpot Art Program.

Stephen McGee with his Stewpot Art Program class on a visit to the DMA. Stephen is third from the right in the white shirt.

Mary Ann Bonet is the Director of Community Engagement and Lindsay O’Connor is the Manager of School Programs at the DMA.

How the Florals Bloomed in “Flores Mexicanas”

Jaclyn Le and graphic installers place environmental wall graphics in Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art.

My name is Jaclyn Le and I am the Senior Graphic Designer at the Dallas Museum of Art. My primary role here is to design the identity, graphics, and environmental graphic design of each special exhibition and permanent collection gallery, in both English and Spanish. Working closely with the Design and Interpretation team, the Exhibitions team, and each of our curators, my goal is to make sure the identities, graphics, and environmental design of each exhibition are aligned to the curator’s vision, and that they showcase the works and information in the best way possible.

I was extremely excited to work on the design for the exhibition Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art, curated by Mark Castro, The Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art. We wanted the design to feel approachable, elegant, and vibrant. The typography is a pairing of a bold style seen in Mexican prints from the early decades of the 20th century, paired with a fuller, more feminine typeface.

The hand-drawn floral pattern was inspired by Mexican lacquer ware from Olinalá. Our director, Agustín Arteaga, lent me a wonderful book full of different styles to look at, and I developed a monochromatic floral pattern illustrating common motifs I saw throughout the book. This floral pattern flanks both walls of the entrance to the exhibition, and weaves its way up and over the ceiling in the space right before the monumental painting Flores Mexicanas by Alfredo Ramos Martínez.

How to draw your own floral set as seen in Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art.

You can watch this video tutorial to create your own floral set. Use any marker or drawing tool you have to create this. Here, I am using a Crayola Superfine tip marker.

1. Start by plotting three dots that will be the center of your flowers. You want to plot them with enough space in between—a triangle shape would be perfect for this.

2. Draw a ring around each of the three dots. These will be the bases of the flowers to draw petals around.

3. Start drawing the petals around each ring. I have 5-6 petals per flower here. It’s okay if they are not all equal in size—it will look better this way in the end!

4. Once all the petals of your three flowers are complete, draw 2-3 lines coming from the center ring to about halfway across each petal. This will give your flowers more depth and interest.

5. In the negative spaces between your three completed flowers, draw a few slightly curved lines. These will be the stems of your leaves. I have drawn 4 here.

6. Starting with the longest curved stem line, create a teardrop shape around the stem center. You can make these as wide or narrow as you’d like. Draw diagonal lines out from it to create the lines in the leaves. Do this for the other curved line stems from step 5, but save one of the stems for a fuller palm leaf drawing (in the next step).

7. For the palm leaf, create simple leaves by drawing small curved strokes of lines, starting from the top of the stem and working your way to the base. These curved leaf lines will gradually get bigger and bigger with each stroke, as you make your way to the base.

8. Complete your floral set by dropping in dots or circles in the spaces between the three flowers and leaves. Show us your creation by taking a picture and tagging #DMAatHome!

Jaclyn Le is the Senior Graphic Designer at the Dallas Museum of Art.

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.

Make it a Cool Summer

I think we can all agree—Texas summers are one of a kind. Growing up, my family frequently piled into a car and braved the murky water of Galveston beach to escape from the heat. Little did I know, someday I would spend my summers in a temperature-controlled paradise called the Dallas Museum of Art. If you are looking for a way to make it a cool summer break, head to the DMA for some free family fun!

Whether you are in the mood for a group activity or craving some quiet time, we have a program for you! Starting on June 11 and running through August 9, our Summer Family Fun programs give you the chance to enjoy a new experience every day. Participate in story time, interactive tours, or visit the Pop-Up Art Spot to engage with the Museum’s collection through fun activities.

Leading the way for the majority of our summer family programs is a group of art-loving teenagers called the DMA Teen Ambassadors. The Teen Ambassadors dedicate part of their summer to learning AND leading at the Museum. These enthusiastic teens learn the ins and outs of museum teaching and then spend the rest of the summer putting their skills to work through engaging story times, interactive tours and more. Keep an eye out for this enthusiastic and talented group of teens!

I know crowds aren’t for everyone—if you’re looking for some quiet time and want help exploring the galleries at your own pace, Family Gallery Guides are available anytime the Museum is open. These paper guides are designed to send you on your own adventure through the galleries! If you’re looking for another way to explore on your own, make your way to the Center for Creative Connections (C3), a space designed for visitors of all ages to wander and interact with art in new and innovative ways.

Denise Gonzalez is the Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs at the DMA.

What to Look for When You’re in a Museum

The Inspired City, planned by the DMA’s literary series Arts & Letters Live, connects art, people, books, and ideas in creative ways, ignites curiosity, and offers unique experiences for all ages. On June 1, hear acclaimed authors talk about their latest books, meet them personally at book signings, and experience the DMA in new ways through interactive workshops and gallery walks led by authors, activities with artists, and more! All programs are FREE.

Rob Walker, author of The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday, will host a talk and tour at the DMA during this event. In his new book, he highlights a numbers of tips for enjoying your surroundings and stimulating creative thinking at an art museum. Here are some highlights to think about at your next museum visit:

PLAY “BUY, BURN, OR STEAL”*

  • Challenge yourself to examine all the works in a particular space and decide which of the artworks you’d be willing to buy, which one you despise so much you’d like to burn it, and which one you love so much you’d steal it.

CONDUCT AN UNRELATED ACTIVITY

  • Maybe it’s worth playfully accepting the notion of a museum as mere background, an environment we inhabit incidentally, as we do other spaces. At the DMA, we suggest walking and meditating. Come up with your own suitable physical and mental health regimens.

DISCOVER THE BIG WITHIN THE SMALL

  • Look carefully and seek out the humanity and the humor and absurdity in things.
  • Always be very curious and always be looking around.
  • Find the joy in wondering about a toilet paper roll or a coffee cup lid.

MAKE IT ART

  • Grant yourself the superpower of making “art” wherever you go, and see how that changes what you perceive. Art is everywhere, if you say so.

CHANGE IS TO COULD BE

  • Try your hand at conditional thinking: prime yourself to think in conditionals instead of absolutes—see something not for what it is, but what it could be.
  • Look for an answer instead of the answer, and see how you can shift and broaden your vision.

DON’T PHOTOGRAPH—DRAW

  • Suppose the next time you’re tempted to capture a snapshot of an appealing or interesting scene, you draw it instead?
  • Many people believe that they “can’t draw,” meaning that they’re not terribly good at drawing, or find trying to draw either frustrating or embarrassing. Be heartened that you don’t need to show your drawing to anyone!
  • Get yourself a cheap little notebook and pull it out the next time you’re tempted to reach for your phone. Draw one thing—just one! Then do it again. Fill your notebook.

* “Buy, Burn, Steal” concept courtesy of Museum Hack

Adapted from Rob Walker’sThe Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everydayby Valerie Chang, McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live.

Go van Gogh Goes Bilingual!

For 40 years, Go van Gogh® programs have traveled to kindergarten through 6th grade classrooms throughout Dallas, bringing the DMA to students through art-making activities and interactive presentations of works from the Museum’s collection. Building on the program’s mission of expanding our outreach, and as a follow up to our recent Go van Gogh post, we are excited to preview our newest Go van Gogh offering—a program designed for bilingual classrooms!

Estampas de la Memoria is a one-hour outreach experience for Spanish-speaking elementary students. The program, which I developed with C3 Visiting Artist Karla Garcia, is facilitated in Spanish and is designed to activate students’ voices and experiences.

Students gathered during a small group discussion.

Students begin their journey with image theater activities that involve them as co-creators of content. These activities are designed to increase students’ comfort level in interpreting body language and facial expressions and preface a discussion of three retablos—artworks that serve as offerings of gratitude—from the Museum’s Latin American art collection. During the discussion, students also participate in a collaborative story-writing activity that allows them to develop their own interpretations in their language(s) of choice.

Students participating in a collaborative story-writing activity.

The final portion of the program consists of a printmaking activity designed to foster connections to students’ daily lives. The blocks student use to make their prints were created by Karla Garcia, whose own work explores concepts of memory and home as someone raised along the US-Mexico border.

Students participating in a printmaking activity designed by Karla Garcia.

Estampas de la Memoria was piloted with kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms this spring and will be offered as part of our suite of Go van Gogh programs during the 2019–2020 school year. Visit our website in August for booking information!

Si le interesa enseñar nuestro programa bilingüe, ¡considere ser un voluntario para Go van Gogh!

Bernardo Velez Rico is the Teaching Specialist for School Programs at the DMA.

Gone Camping (Museum Style)

As a kid, I went to two different versions of summer camp—Girl Scout camp and music camp. One was hot and dusty, the other seemed to have been a tricky way to get me to practice my viola more! But either way, summer camp brings fond memories of making new friends, learning new things, and never being bored.

Now that I’m all grown-up, I DREAM of having a week off to go to summer camp. The next best thing? Living vicariously through the DMA’s summer camps! You too can experience the fun of DMA-style camping (or glamping) through your kids. Need something to keep your children from being bored? We have camps for:

Basically, we have camps for every kid! Each day campers get to spend time in the galleries looking at art from all around the world. Then they take their ideas and creativity (and plenty of glue and paint) and create their own masterpieces in the studio. This year campers will strut their style through the Dior exhibition, build miniature play houses, create art that’s good enough to eat, and so much more. If you’re still looking for something fun to do this summer, come spend some time at the DMA! Register for camps here.

Leah Hanson is the Director of Family, Youth, and School Programs at the DMA.

Being There: Serve as a DMA School Programs Volunteer!

If you love working with children, have a passion for art, and want to support Dallas students, we want you to join our team as a DMA School Programs volunteer! DMA docents lead tours in the Museum galleries, facilitating meaningful experiences for visitors of all ages. Go van Gogh® school outreach volunteers lead experiences in Dallas elementary classrooms that encourage students to look closely at works of art and express creativity through art-making activities. Applications to become a DMA docent or Go van Gogh volunteer for the 2019–2020 school year are now open. Click here to learn more and apply!

Curious about what it’s really like to serve as a DMA School Programs volunteer? A couple of our experienced volunteers have shared some of their reflections on the impact and rewards of their volunteer work.

Marilyn Willems, DMA Docent

Describe a typical day as a DMA docent. What does leading a program look like?
A typical day starts with a tinge of nervousness only to help build excitement and anticipation for the visitors that are coming. Camaraderie with fellow docents and sharing experiences set the day in motion. I enjoy thinking about and planning how I want to engage the visitors in hopes their “takeaway” encourages them to better understand and appreciate the art and discover how much fun they can experience at the Museum. That is what makes the time spent in training worth every minute.

Why do you like volunteering for the DMA? How has your volunteer service enriched your experience?
I feel I am being rewarded by sharing the art with visitors when my enthusiasm increases their enthusiasm for the art. 

Do you have a favorite memory from your time as a DMA docent?
I am amazed by the insightful thoughts expressed by our young visitors. Those are my most rewarding experiences. Being a docent has become a very important part of my life.

What would you tell someone who’s interested in serving as a docent volunteer?
If you have a passion for lifelong learning, get joy from being with a group who share this passion, and enjoy sharing it with others, you will be rewarded and feel you are making a valuable contribution.

Terei Khoury, Go van Gogh (GvG) Volunteer

Why do you like volunteering for the DMA? How has your volunteer service enriched your experience?
Not only are the GvG training programs and access to the staff instructive and enriching, but the programs make a visible impact in each classroom and venue we visit.  You can see and sense the enthusiasm as we introduce each program, and the hands-on experience is always a special plus as the students express themselves. I’m SO proud to say that over my four years in the program, I’ve touched the lives of at least 2,500 children and had the opportunity to tie STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) together for them all!

Do you have a favorite memory from your time as a GvG volunteer?There’s just no question that our impact with the Color My World program is TREMENDOUS! When we work with special needs children, see the expressions on their faces, hold their hands as they play with clay, paint, and tools, and see their eyes light up with delight and pride as they experience their own artwork—there is no better feeling on earth knowing you’re making such a difference in the world!

What would you tell someone who’s interested in serving as a GvG volunteer?
GvG provides an outlet for one of the most meaningful interactions a volunteer in the arts can have. You touch so many minds and hearts with the generosity of BEING THERE. You aid the teachers and administrators by BEING THERE. You create enthusiasm and energy by BEING THERE. You make a difference by BEING THERE.

 

The Art of Teen Leadership

If you’ve ever attended one of our free summer programs for families, you’ve probably met a Teen Ambassador. The Teen Ambassador Program has been around in some shape or form since 2001, providing fun and interactive experiences to thousands of visitors each summer.

Teen Ambassadors volunteer at the Museum for a short period of time, but they’re at the Museum a lot between June and August. Our 2018 class volunteered over 560 hours in 2018! In just two and a half months, participating teens get comfortable with their voice, learn how to be a good team member, and become experts in the DMA galleries. They truly embody what it means to be a leader—but what does leadership mean to a Teen Ambassador?

For participating teens, leadership is more than just having confidence. “A leader is not about someone in charge that you have to listen to,” one Teen Ambassador said. “It is about someone who takes initiative. If they find a problem they work with it. [They are] not afraid to make mistakes [and] learn from them.” Another Teen Ambassador described a leader as someone “who can take control of the situation and lead others onto a good path. A leader is always kind and has good integrity.”

Many Teen Ambassadors feel that a real leader is someone who listens to and respects others. While a Teen Ambassador can confidently stand up and give a tour to a large group without breaking a sweat, most find themselves learning how to communicate with others and be themselves. “I’ve learned how to make others feel welcome,” one Teen Ambassador reported at the end of last summer. “I was able to break out of my shell to connect with more people.”

Inspired by these teens’ experiences? Applications for the 2019 Teen Ambassador Program are now open! If you’re a teen who is at least 14 years old and interested in getting involved at the Museum, find out more by clicking here. Applications are due on Sunday, April 28.

Jessica Thompson-Castillo is the Manager of Teen Programs at the DMA.

Make!

Pancakes, music, Lego towers, clothing, art . . . what do all these things have in common? They are things you can MAKE! Whether you sew, bake, build, invent, tinker, or play, it’s hard to deny the thrill that comes when you can exclaim, “I made that!” Here at the DMA, we whole-heartedly believe in the beauty of creativity, from the visions of the artists whose works fill our galleries to the imagination of the visitors who make the museum come to life. So why not throw a party to make merry over the joy of creativity?

On Sunday, April 7th, we’ll be celebrating the power and delight of making in all its many forms at our FREE Family Festival: MAKE! with an exciting lineup of activities for the entire family. Drop in throughout the day to:

  • Climb inside the Artscream Truck’s mobile art gallery
  • Enjoy a performance by the L.V. Stockard Middle School Mariachi Pantera de Oro
  • Meet award-winning author and illustrator Yuyi Morales
  • Giggle and wiggle as ventriloquist Nancy Worcester performs with her furry friends Waco the Weasel and Larry the Crocodile
  • Watch artist Natalia Padilla transform the ABCs into extraordinary animal art
  • Work with your family and friends to create a community art piece
  • And so much more!

Activities are offered in both English and Spanish. Ver el calendario completo en español.

We hope you’ll make it a date and come celebrate with us!

Leah Hanson is the Director of Family, Youth, and School Programs at the DMA.


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