Archive for the 'Installation' 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.

Hopi Histories, Possible Futures

Today marks Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which recognizes the cultural contributions and importance of indigenous groups in the United States. In recognition of the holiday, we’re spotlighting the complex yet ultimately hopeful mural Hopi Visions: Journey of the Human Spirit, on view for free until December 2. The mural reflects the long collaboration between Hopi artists Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie, who created the work in 2001 for the Museum of Northern Arizona. The exhibition also highlights a number of ancestral and modern works in the DMA’s permanent collection that connect to themes and material culture depicted in the murals.

PanelA

Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie, Journey of the Human Spirit–The Emergence (Panel A), 2001, courtesy of the Museum of Northern Arizona, photograph by Gene Balzer

This six-paneled mural weaves a story of Hopi society from its emergence to the beginning of the 21st century. The large painting creates an immediate sense of warmth and light through its luminous colors and the combination of simplified geometric forms with soft, painterly textures. However, the harmony of the composition is at odds with some of its content: Panel B depicts the violence of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, when Pueblo groups fought back against the Spanish colonists who had settled in the Southwest.

PanelB

Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie, Journey of the Human SpiritPueblo Revolt: The Rebellion of 1680 (Panel B)

As the mural’s journey moves through time, it also alludes to the destructive extraction of uranium and coal from Hopi lands,as well as present-day problems such as alcoholism, illness, food deserts, drug use, and suicide.

PanelE

Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie, Journey of the Human SpiritRational Side: The Dysfunction (Panel E)

The coexistence of both destruction and regeneration in the mural reflects the Hopi principles that ground the artists’ work. Kobatie and Honanie explain that for Hopi, cycles of destruction and rebirth reflect an effort to find balance. For example, as the mural shows, although the Pueblo Revolt brought great violence, it ultimately forced the Spanish to retreat. Because of this violence, there was a regeneration of Hopi culture, which early Spanish settlers had severely repressed. The central panel powerfully symbolizes this through an image of the Squash Maiden, a new baby growing from an ear of corn, and the combination of ancestral images along the mural’s lower register with contemporary Hopi baskets, jewelry, and ceramics in the upper portion of the image.

PanelC

Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie, Journey of the Human SpiritMiddle Place: The Rebirth (Panel C)

The notion of contradiction as a place from which to grow and to find balance also informs Honanie and Kabotie’s understanding of their mission as Hopi artists. Their artistic practice was communal and rooted in Hopi culture, but it was also a reflection of individual goals and journeys. Kabotie and Honanie attempted to create a new visual language that incorporated Hopi imagery but also drew from Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, and US mass culture.

PanelF

Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie, Journey of the Human SpiritHope: Confusion and Hope (Panel F)

By placing a computer at the top of a Teotihuacan-style talud-tablero (slope and panel) pyramid, the artists look to contemporary technology and its potential for interconnectivity as a way to share wisdom from many cultures and traditions and create a balanced future, but they also root this technology and wisdom firmly in a collective indigenous history of the Americas.

Chloë Courtney is a Digital Collections Content 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!
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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.

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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.

 

Who Are the Guerrilla Girls?

We’re excited to have selections from the Guerrilla Girls’ Portfolio Compleat on view through September 9, 2018, in the Rachofsky Quadrant Gallery. But you might be wondering “who are the Guerrilla Girls” . . .

In their own words:

The Guerrilla Girls are feminist activist artists. Over 55 people have been members over the years, some for weeks, some for decades. Our anonymity keeps the focus on the issues, and away from who we might be. We wear gorilla masks in public and use facts, humor, and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture. We undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative by revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair. We believe in an intersectional feminism that fights discrimination and supports human rights for all people and all genders. We have done over 100 street projects, posters, and stickers all over the world. . . . We also do projects and exhibitions at museums, attacking them for their bad behavior and discriminatory practices right on their own walls. . . . We could be anyone. We are everywhere. (guerrillagirls.com)

The Portfolio Compleat is a new acquisition to the DMA’s collection. The works span more than two decades, but many of them are now as relevant as ever. Since they started, the Guerrilla Girls have been prolific, accumulating a large catalogue over time. We chose to display the works as you see them below, so that visitors can read a large number of the posters and see the wide reach of their artistic complaints.

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The videos in this space point to issues like the lack of non-male, non-white representation within specific institutions. As a large, encyclopedic museum, the DMA could be listed among the museums under critique. In recent years, our curators have sought to be more inclusive in the works we show and collect. Currently on view are many works and multiple exhibitions by women artists. But, of course, this is an ongoing conversation with a long road ahead.

In the central seating area, we have provided books created by the Guerrilla Girls that are reminiscent of zines. Zines are self-published magazines or artist books associated with niche subcultures that are usually produced via photocopier and distributed for low to no cost. They gained popularity in the US in the 1990s as an artistic expression, but the format has long existed as a method of political dissent.

Many of the Guerrilla Girls’ works and books are available for purchase on the group’s website. They try to make them accessible to typical museum visitors rather than art collectors. This allows their viewers, and anyone who is so inclined, to become an art collector instead of perpetuating a system where the same one percent decide the direction of the art world. According to the group’s website, “Everything you buy supports our efforts to expose discrimination and corruption!”

Zines, posters, and Guerrilla-style videos are something that anyone can create for a relatively low cost. The Guerrilla Girls’ message is all about breaking down barriers to art to show that it can be cheap to create, easy to disseminate, and indiscriminate in whose message is important. This is also why they use the style of street advertising and employ humor and pop culture to get their message across.

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The Guerrilla Girls are now internationally relevant and more active than ever. We are pleased to present this portfolio to the public and encourage its message of thoughtful and critical viewership.

Skye Malish-Olson is an Exhibition Designer at the DMA.

Holding Up a Mirror to Texas Icons

If you’ve visited the DMA lately, you likely noticed the large red mural created by Minerva Cuevas in our Concourse. For those unfamiliar with Cuevas’s art, she is known for her conceptual multi-media installations, and the way her images, language, found objects, and sculpture work together to create political critiques. Some of her projects reformat the visual language of advertisements, using it to harness advertising’s power to affect cultural narratives. For example, see Cuevas’s morbid reimagining of the Del Monte logo. What makes her work so interesting and accessible is the way it explores the relationships among socioeconomic systems, indigenous identity, and the environment with a sense of dark humor. Sometimes, as we see in Fine Lands, her work is downright playful.

Fine Lands, on view at the DMA through September 2, transforms the Museum’s central Concourse into a dystopian Texas landscape, rendered in a powerful comic-book style. Familiar silhouettes of oil wells become menacing, insectlike forms, while crude oil spewing from a derrick morphs into a cloud of bats filling the sky.

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Alongside cacti and desert scrub, a tortoise’s shell is reimagined as a backpack, a reference to the northward journeys of migrants. A tough, muscled armadillo and wide-eyed prairie dogs wear bulletproof vests. It’s easy to imagine these critters as comic book characters with individual personalities.

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Meanwhile, enormous ants represent industrial and agricultural labor. Echoes of the Texas State Fair’s midway evoke the quintessential cultural icons of Dallas. Framing the mural at one end of the Concourse are the words “LAND LIBERTY LIFE,” a message that is equally evocative of the American dream and of indigenous struggles for autonomy and food sovereignty.

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Fine Lands Press Preview, May 11, 2018

This imagery and its layers of associations allow us to imagine unfolding narratives, or to insert our own memories of the Texas landscape. Although the mural clearly references hot-button issues such as pollution, migrant labor, and the power of the fossil fuel industry, there is no single overarching message. Rather, Cuevas holds a mirror up to Texas culture, reflecting it back to us with the added insights that creative metaphor brings. For example, she treats oil in several ways: as a natural resource, as an element of our economy (for better or worse), and as a visually fascinating substance that oozes and seeps across the landscape. More than a simple warning about the dangers of oil as a pollutant, this imagery evokes the role of fossil fuels as the bedrock of Texas industry and an important component of our deep-rooted sense of independence.

Through its examination and reframing of common cultural stereotypes surrounding our state, Fine Lands offers a new way of seeing and understanding subjects such as immigration, the politics surrounding natural resources, and ideas about Texan identity. The presence of bright white crosshairs distributed throughout the mural lends an undertone of menace. The sight of these crosshairs hovering on the wall just ahead implies an immediate threat, lurking right behind us. How we understand that implied threat, and the extent to which we participate in Cuevas’s reflection on the Texas landscape, is up to each of us.

Chloë Courtney is a Digital Collections Content Coordinator at the DMA.

Open Office: Exhibition Planning

It has been said that the environment we create is a reflection of our state of mind. For Skye Olson, Exhibition Designer at the DMA, this sentiment could not be more true. Her office is crisp and organized with pops of color peeking through exhibition models and paper diagrams. She is in the business of aesthetics, choosing paint, finishes, and elements that will showcase art in the best possible light. The clean lines of her office reflect the detailed approach she takes in designing exhibition spaces. Sneak a peek inside Skye’s Museum office:

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Nesting

This week, we open the new and improved Arturo’s Nest in our Center for Creative Connections (C3)! The old play areas and design were so well loved that it was time to refresh and re-imagine this beloved play-learning space for our youngest visitors. The Exhibitions team and I had the pleasure of collaborating with the Education Department to come up with a fresh design that harmonizes with the updated Young Learner’s Gallery just around the corner in C3.

Some of the changes we made include installing new carpet (with giant polka-dots) to help with ambient sound, and applying a brand-new landscape to the walls, courtesy of our Exhibitions Graphic Designer, Kevin Parmer. We’ve added a nightscape to a previously plain wall, which adds to the calming and enveloping charm of this space. For our design team, this project was a playful departure from the many ongoing exhibition design projects in the Museum galleries.

Material samples used in the Arturo’s Nest redesign

There will be a new “nest” structure (coming soon) that will also function as a reading nook, and the daytime landscape will be dotted with interactives that engage our youngest visitors’ budding aesthetic sensibilities. We invite you to explore Arturo’s Nest upon its reopening!

Arturo’s Nest space before

Arturo’s Nest space after

Skye Malish-Olson is the Exhibition Designer at the DMA.


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