Posts Tagged 'afterschool program'

Finding the Art in So SMAART

Head of Community Engagement Maria Teresa Garcia-Pedroche and I spent a Saturday afternoon with the So SMAART girls, a group of motivated young ladies aged 9-12 who are “Set on Science, Math, Aviation, Art, Reading, and Technology.” Since its beginning in 2000, the So SMAART program has impacted more than 900 girls from Dallas public schools through various mentorship and after-school activities, all of which prepare the students for careers in STEAM fields including science, math, and the arts. Serving as the girls’ mentors are members of the Trinity Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, a volunteer service organization led by women of color from the DFW area who founded So SMAART to address the lack of minority female students pursuing STEAM careers.


Trinity Links and the DMA’s Community Engagement team

Throughout their visit, the So SMAART girls and their mentors explored the Center for Creative Connections, toured the African and Ancient American galleries, and created their own masterpieces in the Art Studio. These ladies demonstrated some of the ways the arts can impact and empower the next generation of scientists, engineers, curators, and everything in between:

  • Connect with Communities

The students and mentors contributed to an ongoing basket-weaving project, a response wall discussing personal traditions, and a larger-than-life drawing at the Interactive Gallery and Community at Large installation.

  • See Things Differently

Are those ordinary scraps of cardboard and twist ties, or are they the makings of the next Oldenburg? How does our presence change the way a space feels, functions, or sounds? Our visitors experimented with these and other queries at the Art Spot and the Young Learners Gallery.

  • Blast into the Past

Museum educator extraordinaire Amy Copeland and various DMA volunteers led the So SMAART girls through the African and Ancient American galleries, where they discussed the ways that past cultures and communities influence our current beliefs, traditions, and practices.

  • Make Your Voice Heard

As part of a national competition sponsored by The Links, Incorporated, the students channeled their creativity in the Art Studio to create posters raising awareness about nutrition and healthy habits. Isn’t it a bit easier to forgo the leftover Halloween candy when you’re looking at a solar system made of fruit?

Keep an eye out for these young ladies—we can’t wait to see where the arts will take them!

Paulina Lopez
McDermott Graduate Intern for Visitor Engagement

Take a Summer Safari at the DMA

teen docents 2015 2

This year’s class of teen docents.

This summer, bring your summer school students and summer campers to the Dallas Museum of Art for a tour led by one of our teen docents! Our docent-guided tours allow students to form meaningful connections with works of art through close looking and interactive gallery experiences, including sketching, writing, group discussion, and more. Teen docents conduct summer tours for young visitors (ages 5-12) all summer long, during which they encourage critical and creative thinking while addressing all learning styles. If you are interested in scheduling a guided tour with one of our teen docents, the process is easy!

Step 1: Visit This page includes information about fees–FREE if you are an educational organization and scheduled 2-3 weeks in advance!

Step 2: Click on Docent-Guided Tour Request Form, making sure you already have a few dates approved for a visit.

Step 3: Choose whether you would like the “Animal Safari” tour or the “Summer Vacation” tour.

  • On the “Animal Safari” tour, students will set off on a safari to search for animals in works of art. They will think about how animals look and what they might mean and symbolize in works of art from all over the world.
  • On the “Summer Vacation” tour, students will travel the world without ever leaving the Museum! They will think about how they spend their summer vacation and make connections between their favorite summer activities and those they see in works of art.

Step 4: Choose a date and time. Docent-guided tours are only available in the summer on Wednesday and Friday between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. We can only tour 30 students every hour, but feel free to split them between a few hours! For example, half the students can tour at 11:00 a.m. while the other half explore our collection in small groups or eat lunch in our Sculpture Garden.

Step 5: Once the form is submitted, you will be added to our schedule in the first available time and day.

We have lots of room left in our schedule, and our teens are ready to show your students their favorite pieces! We hope you join us for a Safari or a Vacation soon!

Madeleine Fitzgerald
Audience Relations Coordinator

Friday Photos: Tatum Elementary and Mark Bradford

This past Wednesday, I visited fourth- and fifth-grade students in Tatum Elementary’s Afterschool Program.  We spent time thinking about our neighborhoods and making collages using assorted papers, twine, and glue.  We finished by looking at works of art by Mark Bradford and talking about the large-scale paintings that he created using similar materials, which often relate to his neighborhood in Los Angeles.

But, the program did not end there.  Last night, Tatum Elementary Afterschool students of all ages came to the Museum with their parents to see the Mark Bradford exhibition.  They also spent time adding to the collages they began the previous day, or making new collages.  Children and parents created their own work, or in many instances, collaborated on collages.  Check out their great work below:

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Community Connection: Dallas and Beyond

I look forward to spring for several reasons: warmer weather, hints of green and color coming out on trees and plants, and the National Art Educators Association Convention.  Held in a different city each year, the Convention provides opportunities for us to meet museum and classroom educators from all over the United States, as well as other countries, and to learn what our colleagues are doing and thinking about in their respective cities.  On the flip-side, DMA educators often lead conference sessions and share about the new and exciting programs that consume our daily lives.

The most recent Convention took place in Seattle during Spring Break.  I took part in a session with Elizabeth Gerber and Sofia Gutierrez, educators from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  We all work closely with afterschool programs, and evaluation and reflective practice are essential to the development and refinement of our programs.  We led a session that not only described our programs but also encouraged our audience to share their practices.  Meet our most distant Community Connections to date below:

Briefly describe your position at LACMA.

Elizabeth:  In a nutshell, I aim to connect the art at LACMA with the lives of students and teachers throughout Los Angeles County.  This includes working with multi-visit school programs where kindergarteners through high school students visit the museum multiple times; programs that take place in schools, libraries, and community centers; and professional development opportunities for classroom teachers.  These programs occur during school, after school, in the evenings, and on the weekends.  LACMA even creates an exhibition at a local elementary school each year!

Elizabeth Gerber

Sofia:  I coordinate the out-of-school afterschool component for the Art Programs with the Community: LACMA On-Site program. We have a partnership with the Los Angeles Public Library, the YMCA, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. The majority of the workshops happen at the seventeen partner libraries, where we hold weekly sixty- to ninety-minute hands-on art programs focused on developing critical thinking skills, creativity, and personal connections. I work closely with our teaching artists by mentoring, looking over lesson plans, collaborating on professional development, team teaching, and further developing best strategies for equal voicing opportunities for our participants, many who are English Language Learners. Each workshop has learning and social goals that were developed from our two-year participatory evaluation modeled after the Theory of Change.  I also work closely with the librarians and other community partners and coordinators in our programs to ensure we are meeting the educational and life-long learning needs of their community, and to extend the hospitality of LACMA as part of their community.

Sofia Gutierrez

What was your favorite part of your Seattle NAEA experience?

Elizabeth:  This year I really enjoyed the opportunity to think “big” about museums and the ways they connect with audiences and communities.  This work encompasses everything from collaborating with living artists, to evaluating the work of museums, to articulating the ways museums have an impact on their visitors and program participants.

Sofia:  I especially enjoyed hearing about all the inspiring work that is being done in the field of Museum Education and the nation’s libraries, and the call to action from our profession to ensure that the nation is aware of the crucial role and value of these public institutions, and that museums along with libraries, not just the sciences, are leading the way in developing 21st Century Skills.

If you could take any work of art from the LACMA collection home with you, what would you choose?  (I know I ask this question of all our museum colleagues, but this is a great way to learn about the treasures of their collections!)

Elizabeth:  It is tough to pick just one!  Although my background is in contemporary art, I’d love to live with Copenhagen: Roofs Under the Snow by Peter-Severin Krøyer.

Sofia:  I would choose Veiled Christ, a small 18th century Italian terracotta sculpture of Christ entombed with a shroud covering his body.  And if that wasn’t available, I would take The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, c. 1638-1640, by Georges de La Tour.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of  Teaching in the Community

Community Connection: Close Collaborations

One of my favorite things about my job at the DMA is the opportunity to work closely with teachers and students over an extended period of time.  Over the last three months, I’ve worked with Shawna Bateman and Daniel Hall through the Thriving Minds After School Program.  During this process, I gained valuable knowledge about the after school environment, which is immensly different than during-school hours.  An extra bonus for me was getting to know these two very interesting people: Daniel performs regularly with a variety of musicians and bands who collaborate in The Dallas Family Band, and Shawna shared an incredible found object sculpture she had made years ago to connect with one of the after school program activities.
What are you learning from your experiences in the Thriving Minds After School Program?

Daniel:  I’ve learned that when working with kids, things don’t always go as you planned.  That’s not always a bad thing –  you’re able to see art and teaching in different ways than you would have normally imagined, based on the responses of the kids and the way things flow in the classroom.

Shawna:  The biggest thing I’ve learned is how important arts education is for children.  We have a great need for arts education, and the arts are often the first thing that goes with budget cuts.

What do you do outside of the after school program, and how does that inform your work with students?

Daniel:  I’m a performing musician and artist, so I’m teaching kids about things I know and actually do.  I spend just as much – if not more – time practicing the discipline I teach, as opposed to a chemistry teacher who might spend all their time in classroom and little time working directly with chemicals.

Daniel, far left, performs with The Dallas Family Band outside the Flaming Lips concert during NX35 Conferette in March 2010.

Shawna:  I hike, read, and catch dragonflies.  I also paint and make jewelry, which allows me to talk with students about creating things on a level they can relate to.  A lot of times, kids think of art as something that someone else does. 

Shawna sits in her favorite park, thinking.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Daniel:  I don’t typically like to think in concrete terms for the future, but I will say that I’ll be playing music for the rest of my life. Five years from now, I’ll still be a practicing musician and artist.  The way that will work itself out is entirely unknown, and I’m not going to worry about that.

Shawna:  On the top of a mountain with a lovely hat.

Do you want to share any memorable experiences with the after school program this year?

Daniel:  There are always funny things that kids say that make for hours of conversations with my friends later.

Shawna: I really loved hearing that the kids would not stop talking about the artist.  Not only did they absorb what I taught them, but they were excited to use that information.  [Shawna’s students visited the DMA and viewed the artworks they discussed in the classroom.  The group leader told Shawna that she had to adjust the timing of their visit because the students wanted to tell her everything they remembered about the artist.]

Found It!

Back in November, I shared some photos from a project inspired by Dorothea Tanning’s Pincushion to Serve as Fetish.  This project is part of a new afterschool program we are developing in partnership with Thriving Minds at Dallas ISD schools.  At the time, I was testing the program with 4th-5th graders at Conner Elementary School.  I am currently working with Shawna Bateman at Twain Elementary School and Daniel Hall at Long Middle School, who are leading the program with their students.  In the process, I have learned a great deal from their experiences, insights, and feedback regarding the program.
Below are images of projects inspired by Mark Handforth’s Dallas Snake.  Through these projects, students learn about artists who use found objects as materials for their art.  Found objects are natural or man-made objects found (or sometimes bought) by an artist that are treated as a work of art just the way they are, used for inspiration, and/or used as materials for works of art.
First, the students chose several items from the collection of found objects provided by the instructor.

An array of found objects to choose from

Next, students selected materials that helped them connect their objects.

Materials for connecting found objects

One student created a time machine with cardboard, plastic beads, an old tv antenna, and other assorted items.

Time Machine

 Another student created a sculpture park with a lint roller handle, cell phone, bubble wrap, and paper towel roll.

The Sculpture Park

Saline solution bottles, foam tubing, a belt, and a pipe cleaner were combined to make binoculars.


 Students will see Mark Handforth’s Dallas Snake firsthand when they visit the DMA at the end of their program.

Dallas Snake by Mark Handforth

Community Connection: Write to be Heard, the Power of Spoken Word

During the 2008-09 school year, we partnered with Spoken Word artist Will Richey for our afterschool program.  Will led weekly workshops at YMCA’s and Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the Metroplex.  Students were encouraged to write original poetry inspired by their lives and by artworks from the Museum.  The afterschool program concluded with performances by the students at their branches, a reception at the Museum, and a book of poems by all program participants.  For about four months, Will and I saw each other or spoke almost daily.  Afterward, we both became busy with different projects, so it was a treat to catch up with him over lunch.

Will Richey

The animated Will Richey

What first made you want to become an artist?

The artistic side is my mom’s influence.  She had me in art and piano lessons as a child.  My first love was basketball, and that seemed to get in the way of my art.  As an adult, I’ve reconnected with my creative, artistic spirit.  I feel it honors my mom to be well-rounded.  She is Puerto Rican, and the arts are a very strong part of that culture.  My mother wanted to instill that in me, so I have an appreciation for different types of art – dance, music, performance, visual art, and poetry.

Tell us about Journeyman Ink.

Journeyman Ink. is a way of connecting my personal life and journey with my desire to transcend and connect cultures, creeds, and races through creative expression.  In the fall of 2001, I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a 500 mile walking pilgrimmage across northwest Spain.  This experience taught me that life is more about the journey than the destination.  Ever since then, I’ve tried to make the most of every day.  That’s what we’re trying to do with Journeyman Ink.  Through Spoken Word performances, creative art workshops, and speaking opportunities, we try to encourage people of all ages to embrace life as a journey.  Look for more information at in 2010.

Describe your approach to teaching Spoken Word to students.

The best way I can answer this question is with the first four lines of a new piece:

     It’s not about poetry, it’s about personal connection
     It’s not about writing, it’s about self-expression
     It’s not about reading aloud, it’s about taking pride in your name
     It’s not about performing for the crowd, but realizing we’re all the same

Of course, Spoken Word is about all of these things, but my philosophy is that I am a facilitator.  I am not there to impose my craft on someone.  I’m there to draw out the interests, the personality, the dreams of the kids.

Will works with a student at Westlake Village Boys & Girls Club.

Will works with a student at Westlake Village Boys & Girls Club.

 What serves as inspiration for your work?

I’m very inspired by the human story.  I try to help people understand we have so much more in common than we are different.  We have so many barriers (religion, academic achievement, economic status) that get in the way, but the bottom line is we are all connected.  We all share the human experience. 

Could you write a short poem about today’s lunch?  (No pressure!)

Today is an opportunity – a joyous moment
     Shared over good food and conversation
Reminiscing over magical collaborations
     And answering questions with purpose.
Blessed with friendship and creativity
     Connecting the DMA with young artists
Realizing we have nothing more than today
     To smile and let our light shine!

Will signed his impromptu poem, which was written on the back of a to-do list.  I hung it with pride next to my desk.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Learning Partnerships with the Community

Is it a slug? The letter "j"? A prehistoric sea creature?

Dorothea Tanning’s Pincushion to Serve as Fetish has inspired me to create a soft sculpture project for our afterschool program.  All it took was some cool fabric, a stapler, polyester stuffing, and a hot glue gun.

What does it look like to you?

I tested the project first and made an example before introducing it to the students. What does it look like to you?

The students were really excited about their fabric choices.

The students were really excited about their fabric choices.

Pincushion to Serve as Fetish, Dorothea Tanning, 1979

Inspiration for the project. See Pincushion to Serve as Fetish in the Center for Creative Connections.


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