Posts Tagged 'Community Connection'

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.

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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

Creativity Matters

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Because the Dallas Museum of Art is closed to the public on Mondays, those days are often strangely quiet without the buzz of school children and families in the Center for Creative Connections (C3). However, on Monday, October 5, C3 was brimming with energy from some of the creative educators, artists, and community organizers that make Dallas great. Earlier this year we were approached by the Sam Francis Foundation to be one of three organizations across the country to host a roundtable event focused on the Future of Creativity.

In 2014, the Sam Francis Foundation set out to start a national conversation about the importance of creativity in learning, and they called this initiative Creativity Matters: The Campaign for Creativity in Learning. The first year they partnered with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and brought together leaders throughout the field in conversations across the United States (at LACMA, The Met, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and The Exploratorium). These first conversations were centered around two questions:

What does creativity look like?

Where and how does creativity thrive?

Following their 2014 roundtables, the Sam Francis Foundation compiled their findings in this report.

This fall, the Sam Francis Foundation continued the conversation with a set of roundtables at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., and the Dallas Museum of Art.  These Future of Creativity discussions sought to understand the role creativity will play in the future and the changes needed to prepare students for what that world might look like. Considering the future of creativity in our homes, workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods, our conversations were sparked by these questions:

In twenty years how will creativity shape the world we live in?

How will creativity inform our decision-making?

What new conditions will be needed to unleash creativity?

If we were building a “creativity tool-kit” for future generations – what tactics, methods, and advice would we include?

It was truly remarkable to have so many Dallas leaders, artists, and educators (many of whom we have worked with closely in the past) together in the Center for Creative Connections. The conversations were dynamic, engaging, and inspirational.

Yet, these roundtables are just part of the beginning stage for a grander plan involving community building, the creation of programs, and a public awareness campaign in support of the future of creativity.

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In the end, I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the day.  Some are specific to creativity, and others are general gems to keep in mind.

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Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Manager

 

Friday Photos: Summer Progress

This summer, visitors to the Center for Creative Connections have participated in a communal drawing activity called Community at LARGE. Individual visitors enlarged one small portion of Progress Suite by Luis Jimenez and added their drawing to a large gridded wall, so that collectively they have created an enlarged reproduction of the original lithograph. Initially, it was exciting to watch as the blank wall slowly filled up with drawings and the image became recognizable. But now that each square has been drawn, the fun part has been watching as the drawing changes from day-to-day with the addition of new visitor contributions.

Here are a few short flipagrams of the evolution of my favorite squares.

 

 

 

Stop by the Center for Creative Connections during your next visit to the Dallas Museum of Art to make your own contribution to our communal drawing. Look for more photos of this project on Instagram and Twitter with #DMAlivingdrawing.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Manager

Learning to Help the Learners: My Year as a Leadership ISD Fellow

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Let’s consider the proverbial elephant in the room: many school districts, including Dallas ISD, are in need of community help, be it as informed advocates or active participants. Often, those of us outside the intricacies of the district itself feel helpless to initiate assistance, or to even know where to start. It was this realization, along with a desire as both a museum educator working with teachers and a parent of a DISD student, that led me to apply to be a fellow in this year’s Leadership ISD program. To be accepted into the program and participate this year has been an immensely rewarding, heartening, and humbling experience.

Helmed by Patricia Arvanitis and an amazing group of staff and volunteers, Leadership ISD is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering knowledgeable citizen advocates for the Dallas Independent School District, ultimately serving as a growing group who can help all students achieve and thrive.

From September through May, we forty-two LISD Fellows attended a series of monthly seminars each focusing on a different issue DISD schools and students face, including the opportunity gap, early childhood education, and buildings and facilities. Those may sound like dry topics, but the activities and conceptualizing that went into each proved to be fascinating. For the training on buildings and facilities, we began the day in groups charged with this question: what would an ideal school look like? As each group brainstormed and later shared their ideas, it became clear that our approaches focused on different ways of tackling the idea: one group considered what might be done with the empty school buildings already owned by DISD, while another group considered a perfect school developed around different educational models.

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One of the benefits of being part of the Leadership ISD is hearing from an array of knowledgeable voices. As part of our monthly meetings we had opportunities to discuss issues with parents, teachers, experts from organizations like Uplift Education, Momentus Institute, and Teach For America, and key figures like school board members, Superintendent Mike Miles, and Mayor Mike Rawlings. At such times we were encouraged to ask probing questions and critically evaluate whatever data was presented.

Beyond these monthly seminars, though, was the real meat of being a LISD Fellow. As part of our participation we were required to attend school visits, DISD board meetings, and participate in a Practicum project assigned to a specific school. These “on the ground” activities not only engaged us in a more individual way with the issues schools, teachers, and students are facing, but empowered us to create active and ongoing results for all involved.

IMG_20150508_141712As our year has wrapped up, two different things have been dominating my mind. First, after almost every seminar, meeting, and practicum discussion I was involved with, I always walked away with the sense that the issues schools, teachers, and districts are facing are immensely complicated. There are no easy solutions. The more I learned, the more complicated each topic appeared. Yet, this feeling was always tempered by an extreme sense of hope, of participation as a step amid these complicated issues, to chart a path through them. This second feeling — hope — is one that any of us can have by getting involved and informed.  If you are so inclined — and I hope you are — consider applying to be one of Leadership ISD’s Fellows next year, won’t you? The deadline to apply is June 1st!

Josh Rose
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Student Voices Coming to a Smartphone Near You

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Last October, staff from the Center for Creative Connections, Founder and Director of Make Art with Purpose Janeil Engelstad, and Skyline High School Architecture program teacher Peter Goldstein began a new project building on a past collaboration at the DMA.

Translating Culture: Community Voices at the DMA originally started as an initiative to create links with the community by providing different platforms to share varied perspectives on the collection. After a very successful first collaboration with AVANCE Dallas, the project took a second life with a group of 11th grade Architecture Cluster students at Skyline High School.

After months of hard work, Translating Culture II: Community Voices at the DMA will finally launch on the DMA.mobi site this coming Friday, May 15. That night as part of Late Night, we’ve organized two programs for visitors to engage with this new project.

The events scheduled for the night include a self-guided tour throughout the Museum of new stops (which are both in English and Spanish) and an opportunity to meet up with the students themselves. You can find maps with the outlined stops at the Center for Creative Connections from 6:00 p.m. until midnight. And you can join us there from 8:00-9:00 p.m., where students will be available to talk to visitors about the project, their individual contributions to the site, and to share about their overall experience.

To spark some excitement about the launch, I thought I would speak to two of our key people in this project–Janeil and Peter–and ask them a few questions about Translating Culture II and their expectations for the future. I leave with you their answers below. Be sure to check out the student contributions on DMA.mobi beginning May 15!

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Describe Translating Culture II in one sentence: 

Janeil: Translating Culture II: Community Voices at the DMA is a bi-lingual, Spanish-English, smartphone tour where museum goers engage with and experience interpretations of art work in the DMA permanent collection from the point of view of students from the architecture cluster at Skyline High School.

Peter: It’s a program that provides students with the opportunity to share their insights, observations and experiences with works of art in the DMA collection.

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How will this collaboration contribute to the DMA and the community of Dallas?

Janeil: Translating Culture II is a statement by the DMA that the voices and ideas of people from different Dallas communities and cultures are a relevant part of the dialogue about art. I see this statement as gesture or a sort of offering that creates new spaces for engagement and play. Through the process of the project, new relationships and connections between the institution, the collection and the community have been built, which is a new and valuable thread in the fabric of the community.

Peter: The DMA is an invaluable part of our community–it is a unique place of learning and inspiration with a diverse collection of art from around the world. The DMA encourages and facilitates student and community involvement through a wide range of activities focusing on their outstanding collection of art.

In your opinion, what do you think was most valuable about this project?

Janeil: The expression of diversity and inclusion around art was most valuable, providing access and bringing under-represented voices into the larger cultural conversation, which is a key part of MAP’s mission.

Peter: The Translating Culture II project allowed students to engage in a conversation about works of art that spoke to them on a personal level. The students discussed and analyzed the artworks they encountered, and then created responses that are a reflection of their own unique interests and perspective.

Art has the ability to communicate beyond geographic boundaries and across time. With the support and guidance of the DMA and MAP, the students involved in this project were able to explore works of art from artists and cultures around the world, and then embark on a journey to communicate their ideas and discoveries for others to enjoy.

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What do you hope will come out of Translating Culture in the future?

Janeil: I hope that the visitor who takes one of these tours has his or her imagination lit in a way that inspires new thinking or new ideas, and brings joy.

Peter: Our hope is that the work you see on the DMA.mobi site will spark the interest of other students (and adults!) and inspire them to explore the incredible richness and diversity of the Dallas Museum of Art. Translating Culture is about discovery–and sharing those discoveries with others.

Eliel Jones
McDermott Intern for Visitor Engagement

Friday Photos: The Mother Load Responses

In September, we did a Friday Photos post of The Mother Load Project installation in the Center for Creative Connections. Now that this interactive installation has been on view for a few months, we’d like to share some of the wonderful visitor responses. The Mother Load Project asks visitors to respond to the question:

In your life right now, what do you nurture, and why?

Visitors write their responses on small gray tiles and place their tile on one end of a balance marked for self or for others. I love coming in and seeing which way the balance is leaning on any given day and watching it change course over a matter of hours.

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Here are just a handful of the thousands of responses we have received so far.

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View more visitor responses on The Mother Load website and stop by the Center for Creative Connections to contribute your thoughts to this project.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator

Friday Photos: C3 In Bloom

Though the weather is getting cooler and the leaves will soon be falling, here at the Museum, the Center for Creative Connections is in full bloom!  In conjunction with the DMA’s upcoming exhibition Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse, we have updated our monitor wall to display visitor submitted photographs of flowers. We’ve also stocked the Art Spot with supplies to make flowery creations.

Stop by and make a flower to add to our garden of creations, or join our Flickr Group, DMA In Bloom and submit your flowery photos to have them displayed on the monitor wall. We look forward to your blooming creativity!

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator


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