Posts Tagged 'Africa'

African Art Sketching Party

Full wall

Just before the Arts of Africa gallery closed for reinstallation in May, the DMA invited the public to a Late Night African Art Sketching Party. Over 100 sketches of visitors’ favorite African artworks were gathered during the party. It was an opportunity to tap into the creativity and perspectives of DMA visitors. Sketching is a fun way to slow down, look closely, and discover something new about an artwork.

Visitors’ drawings are on view on a temporary wall on Level 3 in the Museum. Come for a visit before August 30 to see this installation of sketches and experience the DMA’s African art collection as seen through the eyes of another.

Nicole Stutzman Forbes is the Chair of Learning Initiatives and Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education at the DMA.

Late Night Sketching Party

This call goes out to all of you who like to put a pencil to paper and draw! We invite you to join us during Late Night this Friday night, May 15, from 7:00 – 10:00 pm for an African Art Sketching Party. Artist Ellen Soderquist will host, guiding you in the process of sketching your favorite African artworks in the DMA’s collection. All ages and skills levels are welcome, and all materials will be provided.

If you leave your sketch with us (pretty please!), it will be included in a public exhibition this summer. That’s right, your work will be on view in the DMA! Visitors’ sketches of African art will be displayed during July and August on temporary construction walls built near the DMA’s African Gallery, which will close to the public in June for a reinstallation project. While the real artworks will not be on view for a few months, we look forward to sharing your sketches with the public this summer. Seeing things through the eyes of another can often enrich our own view of the world.

See you Friday at the Sketching Party!

Nicole Stutzman Forbes
Director of Education

Seldom Scene: Installing a Souvenir Tusk

This past weekend, Souvenir: A 19th-Century Carved Tusk from the Loango Coast of Africa opened in the Museum’s Concourse. Below are a few shots of the installation process.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, DMA Marketing Assistant

Ivory Tusks and Cultural Hybridity

During the 19th century, carved ivory tusks were commissioned for export to countries such as Portugal, Britain, France, Spain, Holland, India, and America. These “souvenirs,” often mementos of an African adventure, exhibited a combination of indigenous and foreign subjects and styles.

This Saturday, an interesting exhibit opens in the Museum concourse, Souvenir: A 19th Century Carved Tusk from the Loango Coast of Africa.  While the exhibition explores African souvenir art in the 19th and 20th centuries, the highlighted work is a carved ivory tusk the Museum acquired in 1969. This is the first time the tusk has been on view since its acquisition.

Tusk with multiple scenes in relief, 19th-20th century, Dallas Museum of Art, The Clark and Frances Stillman Collection of Congo Sculpture, gift of Eugene and Margaret McDermott

Six hundred to one thousand of these tusks are estimated to exist in private collections and museums. An article in Smithsonian magazine refers to these tusks as “spirals of history,” as the images carved in relief often tell stories of transatlantic  trade, manual laborers, rituals, and interactions with foreigners.

The spiral motif as well as the concept of conveying narrative through a spiral recall indigenous artistic traditions, while the subject matter of these tusks often incorporate foreign objects, subjects, or figures. Ultimately, these carved tusks are cultural hybrids.

I’m thinking of all the teaching possibilities related to cultural hybridity. In a recent discussion with colleagues about the very personal and complex implications of defining one’s own “culture,” I am confident that many students could relate to this notion of cultural hybridity. It would be interesting to ask your students to consider their “culture.” Often we associate culture with ethnicity, but culture could also include age, gender, geographic location, religion, or political status.  What could an exercise about exploring and defining the various elements of one’s culture look like? For example, you might ask students to design a souvenir about the various cultures that affect their day to day actions and decision-making. What would their souvenir look like? How would they represent various cultures?

For teaching ideas and information about other works in our African collection, visit our our new online teaching materials related to our standing power figure (nkisi nkondi), helmet mask (mukenga), or rhythm pounder. Please comment and share with us the ways that you and your colleagues are incorporating ideas about cultural hybridity (and the fluid nature of culture) in your classrooms, and come check out Souvenir, on view until September.

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs


Friday Photos: African Headwear

As I’ve mentioned before on our blog, I love the DMA’s African collection.  Below are photos of some of my favorite hats in African Headwear: Beyond Fashion, an exhibition currently on view at the Museum.  Some of these hats are from the DMA’s collection, but there are also many loans and new acquisitions in the exhibition.  I think my absolute favorite is the Royal Messenger’s Headdress from Cameroon.  I love the bold shape and purple dye!

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I’m looking forward to the arrival of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk in November–I think it will be fun to compare his fashion designs with some of the works of art in African Headwear.  I already have ideas for our next installment of Provocative Comparisons!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Staff Spotlight: Shannon Karol

Usually, I interview artists, educators, and community partners with whom we partner in various programs.  This month, I’m turning the spotlight on our own Shannon Karol.  Shannon has worked at the DMA since 2005, with the exception of a short stint back in her home state of Michigan.

Tell us about your history with the DMA.

I first came to the Museum in 2005 as a McDermott Graduate Curatorial Intern, and I worked with Dr. Roslyn Walker, our Curator of African art.  A big part of my intern responsibilities was working with scholars to gain permission to use their contextual photos in our catalog of the African collection.  I did a bit of background research for the catalog, too.

I went away for a year to work at the Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University, and returned to the DMA in August 2007 as Tour Coordinator.

Just last month, I was promoted to Manager of Docent Teaching and Gallery Interpretation.  I’m now responsible for the Museum’s 108 docents, which includes training and helping them learn best practices for teaching in the galleries.  I’ll also continue to work with some of our partner schools and school districts on their annual museum visits.

To what part of your new position are you most looking forward?

The most immediate thing I’m looking forward to is representing the Museum at the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I’ll be there to talk about connections between the Cowboys Stadium Art Program and our Big New Field exhibition.

I’m also looking forward to training a new docent class and helping them get excited and prepared to be in the galleries with our student visitors.

On the field at Cowboys Stadium last fall with Molly and Amy

What do you miss most about Michigan?  What do you like most about Texas?

I miss my family the most.  But I do not miss the snow.

What I like most about Texas is having a part of my family here and spending time with my three  teenage cousins, two of whom are teen docents.  I also love the Texas weather when it’s seventy degrees and sunny in January.

What do you do in your free time?

I sew.  I enjoy making purses and skirts, and I’m currently working on a dress that I plan to wear in Paris when I visit for the first time this summer.

How does your love for teaching with works of art extend outside the DMA?

Once a year, when I go home to visit my family in Michigan, I go to school with my sister to talk with her third-grade students about art.  We look at images of famous works of art, including paintings from the DMA collection.  I have them make up stories, write poems and tell me about what they see.  We end the day with a “Pollock-ing” activity, which involves dipping marbles in paint and rolling them around in a baking tray lined with paper.  Then, the kids make their own Andy Warhol-inspired self portraits.  My sister takes black and white photographs of the students, and we give them highlighters to color in their portraits.

Shannon stands between the pillars of her two “home states” at the World War II Memorial in D.C.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Seldom Scene – A Penguin’s Night at the Museum

To help us celebrate our exhibition African Masks: The Art of Disguise, the Dallas Zoo’s Animal Adventure Program made an appearance at Friday’s Late Night with a few animals that call Africa home. Donny, the Black-footed Penguin, was a big hit with the DMA staff (see the BIG smiles) and with visitors too.

Teaching with African Art

Prior to becoming the Coordinator of Museum Visits at the DMA, I served as a McDermott Curatorial Intern working with our curator of African art, Dr. Roslyn A. Walker.  During my year with Roz, I learned not only about the arts of Africa, but I also grew to love the DMA’s collection.  We have a fantastic collection of African art at the Museum, and I enjoy sharing it with our docents, teachers, and especially with students.

A few weeks ago, I led a docent training session entitled Art and Death in Africa.  A majority of African art deals with the cycle of life, so birth, initiation, and death are constantly referenced in our collection.  I felt that death was an especially interesting theme to investigate since it ties in so nicely to one of our current special exhibitions The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy.  Check out last Friday’s photo post for some of my favorite works from the collection relating to art and death in Africa.

Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria at the MFA, Houston

In September, I was invited to lead a Teacher Workshop at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston related to the exhibition Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria.  The works of art in the exhibition date from the 9th to the 15th century, and many of them have never traveled outside of Nigeria.  It was a special treat to see them, let alone to teach with them!  We spent time in the exhibition and also in the MFAH’s African galleries exploring the themes of kingship and belief.  At the end of the day, teachers created concrete poems inspired by a work of art in the Ife exhibition.  I was impressed with the teachers’ finished products, which were created on paper that they had embellished with a watercolor wash. 

A concrete poem created by one of the teachers

Later this month, I will be presenting Themes for Teaching with African Art at the Texas Art Education Association conference in Austin.  Using works of art from the DMA collection, I will share themes, questions, and experiences that can help students make connections between African art and traditions and their lives today.  If you’re attending TAEA this year and want to learn more about teaching with African art in your classroom, plan to attend my session at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, November 12th.  I hope to see you there!

Shannon Karol
Coordinator of Museum Visits

Friday Photos: Art and Death in Africa

Last week, I led a training session for our docents related to the theme of “Art and Death in Africa.”  In honor of this training session, and because Sunday is Halloween, I wanted to share some of my favorite pieces from the African collection that relate to the theme of death.  Some of these artworks represent ancestors, others were used at funerals, and one is a guardian figure for a reliquary.  To learn more about these works, visit the African collections online

Come back to the DMA Educator Blog on Tuesday when I’ll share information on additional projects that I have been working on related to African art. 

Shannon Karol
Coordinator of Museum Visits

Coming Soon: The 2010-2011 School Year

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over.  It seems like just yesterday that Amy and I were blogging about the end of the 2009-2010 school year and now we’re both preparing to schedule Go van Gogh programs and Museum visits for the 2010-2011 school year.

The Museum has an exciting exhibition schedule for the fall, and we will offer a variety of programs, including Teacher Workshops, Go van Gogh programs, and docent-guided visits, inspired by these exhibitions.  You can find more information on our Web site.

I am especially excited to offer the following special exhibition visits for the coming year.  These are topics that will appeal not only to art teachers, but to English and social studies teachers as well:

A complete listing of Teacher Workshops will be available in August, and we will begin taking reservations for Museum visits and Go van Gogh on August 1st (request forms will be available online).  Our calendars fill quickly, so schedule your programs early. We look forward to seeing you and your students at the DMA during the coming year!

Shannon Karol
Coordinator of Museum Visits


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