Archive for the 'Teaching for Creativity' Category



Teaching for Creativity: A Conversation Between Artworks

Have you read Shannon’s post about our gallery experience with ­­­Anytown, USA during Museum Forum for Teachers? After we imagined businesses, shops, and restaurants inspired by typography, we moved into a gallery in Variations on Theme with figural works of art. In this fun, creatively-charged gallery experience, we projected character traits and narratives onto the ambiguous figures.

To warm up, we created scribble characters and characterized one as a large group. Then, small groups of four or five people turned their attention to the artworks in the gallery. Each group chose two figures to explore and characterize. Then, each group wrote a short piece of dialogue between the two figures. To add a little challenge, each group randomly chose one line of dialogue to incorporate. Though it may seem counterintuitive, limitations within a lesson actually inspire more creativity than a completely open assignment.

These dialogue lines included:

  • What is that smell?
  • You are never going to believe what just happened…
  • I have never been so embarrassed.
  • No, I’m not kidding.
  • Tell me it isn’t permanent!
  • Did you get dressed in the dark?
  • Happy birthday!
  • I tried everything I could…
  • What’s on your face?
  • I heard it on TV…
  • I’m telling you…it won’t work.

Most of the groups’ conversations between artworks were light-hearted and humorous. However, each conversation was diverse with rich characterization. I really enjoy experiences when art-viewers combine what they see visually with their own experiences and ideas to create unique interpretations.

It would fun to tweak the creative twist for a classroom experience. Instead of incorporating a specific line of dialogue, try assigning the students a specific historical era or geographic location to research as a setting for a conversation between two artworks. Or, ask the students to create conversations between a figure in a work of art and a historical or literary figure. One of our Museum Forum participants suggested that students research artists and write hypothetical conversations based on what they discover of those artists.

What might a conversation look like between these two figures?

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Teaching for Creativity: Scribble Characters

Consider testing out this entertaining creativity exercise with your students or even with friends. (It’s THAT fun.) When Summer Seminar instructor, Magdalenda Grohman facilitated this exercise with this year’s participants, they had a blast with it.

  1. Every person should have a piece of paper and a writing utensil.
  2. Close your eyes. Keeping your pen or pencil on the paper, scribble for about forty-five seconds. Think about the mood you are in, and try to reflect that mood through your scribbles.
  3. Once everyone is finished drawing, open your eyes, and gather together all the scribbles. Shuffle the scribbles.
  4. Choose one scribble. As a group, think about and describe the scribble. What adjectives come to mind?
  5. Imagine that this scribble is a person. Who is it? What is his/her name? How old is he/she? What does he/she do for a living and/or for fun? What is his/her relationship with his family? What interesting events have occurred in his/her life? What is his/her biggest wish and/or greatest fear?
  6. Jot down the most important aspects of this person, and continue personifying the rest of the scribbles as a group.
  7. Once you have a set of scribble-characters, then randomly distribute one to each participant. Ask one participant to create a sentence to begin a narrative. The scribble-character in his/her hand must be involved in the narrative.
  8. The next person adds another sentence and another character to the narrative, until you have a funny, collaborative story that incorporates all of the scribble-characters.

Here are some of our scribble characters:

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In what ways are you encouraging open-minded, creative attitudes and training transformative thinking in your classroom?

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator for Teaching Programs

Friday Photos: Summer Seminar 2012

Last Friday marked the end of Summer Seminar 2012: Teaching for Creativity, a week-long, immersive workshop for teachers of all grades and subjects to explore ways to foster creative thinking skills in their students. As a relatively fresh DMA employee, this Summer Seminar was my first. I was joined by eight educators from near and far (from Texas to Nebraska to Monterrey, Mexico!). Participants spent the week with the Museum’s resident creativity expert, Dr. Magdalena Grohman, engaging in group and independent creativity exercises, exploring creativity through art in the galleries, discussing current scholarship on creativity, and developing lesson plans to be tested in their classrooms next school year.

Thank you to this year’s participants for your insight, enthusiasm, and open-minds. Check out some of the photos from our idea-filled week.

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Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Teaching for Creativity: Inspiration from a Still Life

Recently, my colleague Amanda Batson and I spent some time in the DMA galleries and in the studio with a group of high school visual art students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.  This group visits the DMA often as part of a class that Charlotte Chambliss, BTW faculty, and I co-teach every other day during fourth period.  Often, I have heard this group of students remark on still life exercises and observational drawing in less than enthusiastic ways.  So, Amanda and I planned their museum visit with the following goals in mind:

  • Stir up an engaging conversation around a 17th-century Dutch still life painting, encouraging students to go beyond a descriptive and literal interpretation
  • Sketch an original still life inspired by metaphor and personification

The visit began with a trip into the galleries.  For about fifteen minutes (which could have gone longer), we viewed and discussed Still Life with Landscape using a conversational approach created by educator Dr. Terry Barrett.  First, we considered the following: “I see _____________.”  We went around the group once with each of the twenty participants stating something they saw, while being sure not to repeat something previously mentioned.  The majority of responses were purely descriptive and inventorial.  Because this painting is so rich with things to see, we went around the group again without any difficulty in seeing something new together.

Abraham Hendricksz van Beyeren, Still Life with Landscape, c. 1620-1690, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, 1987.3

Second, we considered: “I see ______________ and it makes me think _______________.”  Each student in turn responded to these prompts, and this is where a conversation about the artwork began to unfold.  Our experience began to get a little more lively.  Students responded with observations that focused on the relationship between objects on the table and in the room.  Several crafted imaginative stories about a raucous party occurring in this scene and evidence of a quick departure among revelers. Ideas contentious to the storytelling threads emerged as well – something along these lines, “maybe this painter was really just painting a still life to show us how good he could paint this stuff.”  The looking and talking portion of the visit served as a great warm-up connection to an artwork, after which we traveled to the studio for a sketching exercise.

Two random objects were placed at each table seat, so that each student had his or her own still life. The pairs included items such as a glass jar and a washer, a piece of wood and a clothespin, a shell and a sponge, and so on.  We invited students to take a seat and add one item from their person to the compilation of objects.  They added cell phones, a wallet, glasses (not needed for seeing), hair barrettes, and a variety of pocket treasures.  For a short bit, we reflected upon and summarized together our experience looking at the Dutch still life painting.

Next step was to sketch the three objects in front of them using pencil, colored pencil, or pen. Additionally, Amanda passed to each student a prompt that added a twist to their composition.  This portion of the activity was borrowed from a previous C3 Artistic Encounter program with Magdalena Grohman and Thomas Feulmer. Prompts invited students to arrange and think about the objects in human-like ways:

  • These three objects are siblings.
  • Two of these objects are conspiring against the other.
  • Two of these objects are in a new relationship and one of them is introducing the other to the third object for the first time.

After 20-25 minutes of sketching, we concluded with an opportunity for each student to share his or her sketch and thoughts about the how they applied the metaphorical prompts to the  still life objects.  The elaboration of compositions and their associated stories ranged far and wide, and often resulted in humor.

What ways have you made still-life assignments and observational drawing come to life?  Share your ideas with us and readers!

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

High School Day: Students Connect with Filmmakers and Art

Students arrive at the Dallas Museum of Art for High School Day

Last Friday, we had nearly 400 students visit the Dallas Museum of Art  for High School Day, a free educational event that was held in the Dallas Arts District.  This event was presented by the Dallas International Film Festival, and the students attended discussions and workshops at the DMA, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Crow Asian Collection, and the Annette Strauss Square at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. 

High School Day was a day chock-full of workshops and discussion panels from 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m., during which the students had the opportunity to work with local and regional filmmakers and professionals. 

Digital Cinematography with Paul "Bear" Brown

One of the three sessions held at the Museum was Digital Cinematography, which was held in our outdoor sculpture garden.  This workshop was led by Paul “Bear” Brown, a professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).  Students in this session learned what type of digital cameras are commonly used in filmmaking,  such as the Canon 5D MKII. Other topics included popular production tools such as Sliders.

Students experiencing "Cinematic Response" in the galleries at the Dallas Museum of Art.

While half of the students interacted with Mr. Brown, the other half were making connections between art and film in the Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties exhibition.  Cinematic Response, a DMA staff-led experience, allowed the students to be the film “critic” of works of art that are featured in the exhibition.  Each student was given an award title, such as “Best Cinematography,” and they selected the work of art that best fit this description.  This was a great way to get the students discussing the art of the Roaring Twenties in the context of film.

Another workshop featured at the DMA was The Nuts and Bolts of Screenwriting with Carolyn Hodge, the president of the Dallas Screenwriters Association.  Ms. Hodge broke down the fundamental basics of a script and gave some pointers for the students.  Then she discussed loglines, and had the students create their own logline based on the movie The Hunger Games.  A logline is basically a summary of the film in one or two sentences. This is what one group came up with:

“A young, impoverished girl who struggles to survive a totalitarian government is forced to fight to the death in a competitive feudal match. ”

The Nuts and Bolts of Screenwriting with Carolyn Hodge.

Lighting as Storyteller session with Michael Hofstein

The third and final workshop held at the DMA was Lighting as a Storyteller with SCAD professor Michael Hofstein.  Students learned to match specific lighting techniques with the story being told.  Holfstein used examples of cinematic lighting rendered in paintings and popular films, and then discussed the importance of lighting within a specific story.

Overall, High School Day was fun and educational for all.  The event provided many opportunities for local students to connect with professionals in the filmmaking world.  I can’t wait to see what the future of filmmaking holds!

Cheers,

Loryn Leonard
Coordinator of Museum Visits

Teaching for Creativity: One Continuous Line of Creativity

One goal for the Teaching for Creativity series is to present the voice of other educators who can share insights and approaches to teaching that nurture creative behavior.  Meet Lorraine Gachelin, Artistic Director at the Dallas International School and participant during the DMA’s 2011 Summer Seminar.  Lorraine shares with us a drawing exercise that supports the development of risk-taking, freedom, and creative flow in her middle and high school students.

I have the pleasure of working with Middle and High School students.  They display a great deal of energy and enthusiasm when working on creative projects and studying art history.  Curious, analytical, and structured, they follow instructions and stay within their guidelines.  The challenge arises when I ask them to spend time sketching in their journals.  “What should I draw? How large or small?  Which tool must I use?”  “A free drawing”, I respond, “What is on your mind today?  What would you like to express?”

My biggest thrill as an artist and teacher is to offer my students the opportunity to be risk-takers in their art.  I want them to open up their minds, take a pen to paper, and doodle with a cause.  Go with the subconscious flow!  Let the pen move around with one continuous line until an image appears.  No planning, no analysis, no critical thinking.  Just pure creative freedom and finally, allow an image to spring forth.

One continuous line drawing by teacher

Sounds strange?  Not really, it just requires an open mind and a little practice.  A ballpoint pen is a great tool because it can’t be erased and the pressure can be varied.  The paper can be any size – try to use the maximum space available.  Constraints are minimal but important:  no reference photos and the pen may not leave the paper as this drawing will be created with one continuous line.  The first few minutes of drawing should be very free.  Consider it a warm-up.  I don’t even look at my paper during this time.  Once the pen touches the paper, allow the line to move around as if it is listening to music.  After a minute, my eyes are on my paper and I watch the line continue to flow and build.  Shapes may begin to appear where the lines cross with textures implied.  Patterns and values slowly emerge forming an image in a very organic and natural state.

One continuous line drawing by student

A talented sixth-grade student was intrigued by this approach to drawing.  Without question, judgment or any preset expectations of what would result, he quietly sat at his desk and drew for 15 minutes.  A flower and butterfly appeared with much energy and grace, all too well symbolizing the metamorphosis that had just taken place in his artwork.  It’s all in the continuum of the flow.

Many thanks to Lorraine for contributing to this blog and for being such a wonderful collaborator in the pursuit of creativity!

What creative experiences are happening in your learning environment?  Share your ideas with us and spark the dialogue.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

2012 Summer Seminar for Teachers

2011 Summer Seminar Participants

Imagine yourself among a group of educators — spirited, inspiring, trusting, supportive, and innovative — all focused on creativity and the nurturing of students. Now imagine this group immersed in the creative environment and resources of the Dallas Museum of Art for one full week.  This is the Summer Seminar experience for teachers at the DMA, and we’ll be hosting the 2012 Seminar June 11-15.  We invite you to join us!

Teaching for Creativity reached beyond my expectations by exploring how to consider attitudes, ideas, and associations I may have discarded or not considered before this class.  – 2011 participant

Designed for teachers of all grade levels and subjects, Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity explores education and creativity through experiences in the DMA’s galleries and Center for Creative Connections. The course references creativity from a variety of perspectives, and participants engage in readings about creativity from various authors, including Robert Sternberg, Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Through conversations and workshops centered on creative attitudes and thinking, the Seminar supports teaching skills and approaches that foster imagination, curiosity, an open mind, and a natural drive for creating in students. UT Dallas professor Magdalena Grohman and DMA staff lead workshops and gallery experiences.  Participants reflect on and further develop their own creativity, as well as focus on how to teach for creativity.

I will use the tools in order to push myself further with my projects, rather than staying in [a] comfort zone.  – 2011 participant

This definitely helped me tap into more creative thinking. The exercises and activities were very helpful.  – 2011 participant

2011 Summer Seminar gallery experience

Throughout the Seminar, the DMA galleries serve as a kind of laboratory space, in which we consider the creative process and relate creative thinking techniques to specific works of art. In-depth experiences with art cultivate our abilities to observe, envision, express, explore, engage, and understand  in the arts and other disciplines. Through these experiences, we may become more persistent, flexible thinkers, better problem explorers and problem solvers—overall, more creative beings.

Unlike most professional development, the focus is not on ‘making a better teacher’ but on providing good teachers with better tools to bring out the best in their students.      – 2011 participant

The one-week Summer Seminar experience serves as a catalyst for an extended relationship between participating educators and the DMA as we continue the dialogue about education and creativity throughout the academic year.  This blog is one venue for the continued dialogue — view posts from a series titled Teaching for Creativity to learn more and hear about the creative journeys of several educators in the classroom.  The blog post this Thursday will feature 2011 Summer Seminar participant, Lorraine Gachelin.

Registration for the 2012 Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity is currently open. For more information, please contact Andrea Severin at aseverin@DallasMuseumofArt.org.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships


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