Posts Tagged 'Community Engagement'

Building Community Through Art

Growing up in a Puerto Rican-Panamanian household in Austin, the arts were one of the primary ways that my sister and I learned about our family’s cultural heritage. Our bedtime stories were folktales, vejigante masks and molas—not unlike the one currently on view in the Center for Creative Connections—hung on the walls, and in the evenings, Papi would teach us merengue while Mami would fry tostones

After my interview at the DMA last summer, I spent time in the Arts of the Americas Galleries, where I stumbled upon a case of golden pendants from Panamá. Despite being miles away from family, it felt like a piece of my mother and the generations that came before her were with me. It felt like a glittering sign that said, I see you, and you belong here

During national Welcoming Week, an annual event where communities “bring together immigrants and those born within their countries in a spirit of unity,” the DMA is proud to reaffirm our commitment to making the Museum a place where everyone feels valued and welcomed. 

Indeed, a core tenet of the DMA’s mission is placing art and diverse communities at the center from which everything radiates. Yet what does that look like in practice? Here are some of the ways: 

  • By recognizing that while museums are spaces of learning and engagement, they are also rooted in colonial structures and are complicated spaces. The Museum’s cross-departmental committee focusing on linguistic and cultural equity is grappling with this tension in earnest. How do we reckon with our institution’s past? What contributes to a sense of belonging? What kinds of internal and external transformations need to occur? What does that mean for our spaces, staff, programming, and exhibitions?
  • By inviting community members and leaders to help shape the 2020 My/gration C3 exhibition, which highlights the contributions of artists who immigrated to the United States, examines how the movement of people is expressed through art, and illuminates ways cross-cultural connections inform artistic production.
  • By introducing Estampas de la Memoria, a Go van Gogh® program designed by Teaching Specialist Bernardo Velez Rico and former C3 Visiting Artist Karla García to activate Spanish-speaking elementary students’ voices and experiences through collaborative story writing, theater, and art making inspired by retablos. Learn more about the program’s teaching approach, which reflects a desire to uplift and center the knowledge of immigrant communities.
Teaching Specialist Bernardo Velez Rico facilitates a Go van Gogh® program.
Heart House youth engage in an art-making activity during an after-school program.
  • By highlighting the creative bridging of cultures through programs like author Sri Rao’s September 20 Late Night talk about his book Bollywood Kitchen, a reflection on food, film, and his experience as a second generation Indian American.
A Dallas Public Library adult English language learning class explores the galleries.

As a museum of Dallas, we strive to celebrate and reflect the diversity of our city. As of 2017, approximately 611,400 of Dallas’s 2.5 million residents were immigrants. Until 2017 Dallas was a major resettlement location, with close to 2,500 refugees arriving annually. 

With an art collection that spans time and the globe, the Museum provides windows into other worlds and perspectives, which can promote connection, empathy, and cross-cultural understanding. But perhaps art is most powerful when it functions as a mirror, reflecting our own experiences back to us, saying I see you, and you belong here. On behalf of my colleagues, I extend to you all a warm invitation and welcome, and I hope to see you soon.

Mary Ann Bonet is the Director of Community Engagement at the DMA.

Getting Schooled at the DMA

Over the next couple of months, as you’re wandering down the concourse of the DMA, you may notice an eclectic mixture of vibrantly colorful paintings, intricate sculptures, detailed music compositions, and even essays on display just outside the Center for Creative Connections. That’s because our 16th annual Young Masters exhibition is underway!

The Young Masters exhibition is the product of a collaboration between the Dallas Museum of Art, AP Arts Strategies and the O’Donnell Foundation, in which Dallas area high school students who are completing AP Art History, Music Theory or Studio Art courses are invited to submit work to be chosen for display. A whopping 732 works were submitted for this year’s exhibition and from those, 60 final works of art were chosen.

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Tuesday night marked the DMA’s annual Young Masters Reception and Award Ceremony in which members of the Dallas community came together to recognize and celebrate the talent of this year’s selected students. The night began with family, friends, students, and teachers crowding into the concourse to take photographs with the selected works of art.

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The celebratory photographs and mingling were followed by everyone making their way into Horchow Auditorium to recognize each individual student and reveal a selected nineteen students who received top honors in the exhibition. Ceremony attendees heard a reading of the top selected essay, listened to a beautiful performance of the top selected music composition, and learned more about the artistic process and inspiration behind the top selected works of studio art.

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Though most awards have been announced, there are still ways that you can get involved with the exhibition. During March and April Late Nights, be on the look out for staff or volunteers who will be handing out People’s Choice Award fliers for you to cast your vote in any of the three exhibition categories. You can also learn more about selected works from the exhibition at the March and April Late Nights when students are interviewed here at the DMA.

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Amy Elms
McDermott Intern for Visitor Engagement

Open Office: Center for Creative Connections

Most people don’t realize how fun having an office on the first floor of the museum can be! The ten of us (plus one intern) in the Center for Creative Connections (C3) office space are especially close, quite literally. We all sit within earshot of each other and are very close to the visitors in C3, which makes it a very lively workplace! Those who live here during the day (and often get locked in because they have stayed too late) are a fabulous group from the DMA’s C3 team; the wonderful ladies from the Family, Access, and School Experiences squad; and the Head of Community Engagement. You can visit Susan, Amanda, Amanda, Leah, Maria Teresa, JC, Danielle, Melissa, Jessica, Amy, and Tyler anytime you want! Just don’t forget which Amanda is which.

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Amanda Batson is the C3 program coordinator at the DMA.


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