Posts Tagged 'close looking'

Staff Spotlight: Rose Davis

When you find yourself in a room with Rose Davis, it is clear that she is not someone who goes unnoticed. She is warm and charismatic, a person who naturally bonds with a wide range of visitors and staff at the Museum. While it’s her job to observe visitors and make sure they engage with artwork safely, Rose often goes the extra mile and offers her own special discoveries and insights into the Museum’s collection.

Rose with The Icebergs, Frederic Edwin Church, 1861, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt

Rose has been a gallery attendant at the DMA for only 10 months, but in that time she’s grown very fond of one work of art in particular, The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church. About a month ago, during a walk through of the 4th floor galleries, Rose engaged me in a conversation about The Icebergs. She asked us if we’d ever noticed the hidden figures in the painting. Rose excitedly told us about her growing collection of hidden characters in the painting, noting to us that she is continually discovering more as she spends more time with the piece.

Two weeks later, I came back to The Icebergs with Rose and asked her to walk me through each hidden figure she’d discovered. Her first discovery was the gorilla. Then one day when the gallery was empty, she took her first “closer look” and the rest snowballed: a mermaid, a mummy, animals, faces in the ice, and many more. With some laughter in her voice she explained to me that when she first began sharing her discoveries with others, they were skeptical of her, but as soon as they could find one figure in the painting they’d be itching to find another. Below are some of my favorites she shared with us (which I’ve outlined in red). What hidden images will you discover when you look closely at The Icebergs?

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We often think of gallery attendants as people who protect works of art by keeping us from getting too close, but as I’ve learned from Rose, you can “get close” to art in different ways, like absorbing the little details in a painting. Gallery attendants spend a lot of time with our permanent collection, so don’t be shy! Next time you’re exploring our galleries, say hello and ask them what they know. The answers might surprise you!

A visitor’s post-it note about Rose left at our Testing Zone, which currently highlights various writing styles for The Icebergs wall text.

Kerry Butcher
Center for Creative Connections Coordinator

Friday Photos: Do Something New Practice with Bonnie Pitman

When was the last time you took a few moments out of an ordinary day to do something you have not done before? To visit a new place, savor a new flavor of ice cream, or simply to slow down and attend to the world around you?

Bonnie Pitman, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, UT Dallas, and former Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, created her Do Something New Practice to explore just that: starting July 8, 2011, she set an intention to do at least one new thing, big or small, each day. We were fortunate enough to have Bonnie join us for a very special docent training to share her practice, the art of observation, and the magic of being fully present in the moment.

“You see, but you do not observe,” Bonnie reflected, quoting from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes before recommending Alexandra Horowitz’s On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes, a fascinating collection of essays exploring observation and perception. Now, I might be biased, but I think our docent team knows the DMA collection inside out. Could we really see in new ways and discover something new?

Bonnie challenged us to adopt the poses of two works of art in the Arts of the Pacific Islands Gallery. We started at the toes and worked our way up…and suddenly we made a discovery: one work speaks, raised hands emphasizing a round, open mouth, while the other work leans forward to listen! Deepening our understanding through playful attentiveness proved to be a delightful something new for the day. We can hardly wait for Bonnie’s next visit!

Try your own Do Something New Practice and explore chatty and attentive works of art here at the Museum!

Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Teaching for Creativity: Exquisite Corpse

At last week’s Go van Gogh training session, we decided to get everyone’s creative juices flowing with a fun warm-up exercise.  Volunteers got the chance to spend some time exploring works of art they had never seen before through a group writing exercise. During this experience, volunteers each contributed one line of a poem without knowing what the others had written. This collaborative technique was originally created by Surrealist artists interested in incorporating elements of chance into artistic expression. Known by the Surrealists as Exquisite Corpse, this activity can be done as a narrative or drawing game with several people contributing to one poem or artwork. After participating in a written version of this exercise, the volunteers were eager to learn more about the artworks they had written about. Their genuine enthusiasm and sense of wonder made me think that this could be a great way for students to get excited by works of art as well. I hope you will try it out with your students! Here’s how:

1.  Create at least one template with five lines of writing prompts. These are the prompts that we used for three different templates:

  • Noun, two adjectives, three words ending in “ing,” phrase, noun
  • One word, two words, three words, four words, one word
  • Two syllables, four syllables, six syllables, eight syllables, two syllables

2.  Divide into groups of four or five and take a few moments to look closely at a work of art (each group should look at a different artwork)

3.  Provide each participant with one template and a pencil to start

4.  Fill in the first line and then fold it so that your written response is hidden from view

5.  Pass the template to your neighbor

6.  Fill in the next line on the template passed to you, fold it, and pass again

7.  Continue these steps until all the templates have been filled out. At the end of this exercise, each participant should have a completed narrative that they can unfold and read aloud to the other writers. After reading all the templates, each small group should choose one to share with the larger group.

Here are some collaborative narratives that Go van Gogh volunteers wrote:

Starry Crown, John Thomas Biggers, 1987, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Fund

Gorgeous

Traditional

Ladies talking quilt

Stars, hats, hands, feet, toes, fingers, shine

Perfect

.

Bougival, Maurice de Vlaminck, 1905, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

A fall day in Europe

Landscape of a village

Peaceful

Sunflowers and seawater

Apples

.

That Gentleman, Andrew Wyeth, 1960, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

Somber

Serious, somber

Sitting, relaxing, contemplating

Why is he so sad?

Man

.

June Night, Henry Koerner, 1948-1949, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Joshua L. Logan

Colorful

Everyday, wedding

Marrying, dreaming, loving

A busy art building

Hope

I hope you all have as much fun with this as we did!

Hannah Burney
Community Teaching Programs Assistant


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