Posts Tagged 'connections'

A Fairly Good Time


A view of the Esplanade at Fair Park from Jessica Thompson, Manager of Teen Programs.

Last Tuesday was our sixth annual Education Fair Day, a chance to escape the chill of the Museum for some deep-fried fun in the sun at the State Fair of Texas. For some, like Jessica Thompson, going to the Fair is a time-honored tradition. Jessica’s paid a visit to Big Tex nearly every year of her life. For others, like our McDermott Interns, it was a super-sized introduction to a slice of Texas history and culture.

Emily Wiskera and I tackled the trip together. While we chowed down on Fletcher’s corny dogs (a must!), admired the blue ribbons in the creative arts building, and searched for our favorite haunted house ride, I started wondering about what connections could be made between the fair and the DMA. A set of photographs recently installed in the Center for Creative Connections certainly provides some fair feels, but what about elsewhere in the Museum?

State and World’s Fairs

The above pair of posters was an easy connection to make. On the left, we have the 2016 State Fair of Texas poster; on the right, the DMA’s poster from the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio. Each was designed around a unique concept. Hemisfair, San Antonio illustrates the overarching idea of people coming from all over the globe for the World’s Fair. The artist, Robert Indiana, used circles with arrows drawn in towards a star in the south of Texas to convey this message. The star, besides featuring prominently on the state flag of Texas, acts a giant X-marks-the-spot, where the Hemisfair and San Antonio are the treasure.

Immediately recognizable in the State Fair of Texas poster is our celebrity cowboy, Big Tex, surrounded by fields, livestock, and farming equipment. The design is graphic, straight forward, and conveniently explained by a page from the State Fair of Texas website:

Originally established as a livestock exposition back in 1886, it is without question that the Fair has deep roots in agriculture. In honor of its history, the Fair constantly strives to promote agricultural education and aims to further support this initiative through its 2016 event, themed “Celebrating Texas Agriculture.”

Though on different scales, state fairs and world’s fairs both bring people together for a variety of cultural experiences. Here’s how the State Fair of Texas compares to world’s fairs:

  • The State Fair of Texas, at 24 days per season, is the longest running state fair in the United States. A World’s Fair can last up to six months–the 1968 Hemisfair in San Antonio did!
  • An estimated 1.5 million – 3 million people attend the State Fair of Texas each year. For reference, the population of Dallas is 1.3 million people, and Texas’ population is 27.47 million people. The 1968 Hemisfair brought in 6.4 million people from all over the world, and the recent 2015 Expo (or World’s Fair) in Milan had 20 million visitors.
  • This year marks the 130th anniversary of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. In contrast, world’s fairs are held in a new city and country every year.

Creative Arts


Baltimore, Maryland, “Album” quilt, c. 1861, Martha E. Keech, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous centennial gift

The Baltimore album quilt above, despite being 155 years old, isn’t too different from a quilt you might find on a visit to the creative arts building. This kind of quilt, with its trademark white background and squares (or blocks) with floral designs in red and green, first became popular in… you guessed it: Baltimore! The style remains popular today. This particular album quilt was made by hand by one woman, Martha E. Keech. Sometimes groups of women would join forces to make one of these quilts and each would sew one block and sign their name, hence: an album quilt.

The more than 25 categories for quilts at the State Fair this year include sections for ones made by individuals, pairs, and groups, both by hand and by machine. Overall, there are over 1,100 categories in the creative arts competitions! Many people are familiar with submissions like pies, quilts, and collectibles, but did you know the Fair also has LEGO assembly categories for kids and adults, as well as a “Glue a Shoe” contest? This year’s Glue a Shoe contest features such entries as “Grumpy Flat,” after everyone’s favorite internet cat, and “Hamilton: An American Shoesical.”

Fantastic Foods

No Fair day is complete without sampling some of the sensational snacks! Here are some numbers from Eater Dallas on a fair-goer favorite, Fletcher’s corny dogs:

  • On average, 630,000 corny dogs are sold each 24-day State Fair of Texas run.
  • Fletcher’s is in its 74th year of selling corny dogs at the Fair.
  • To satisfy corndog purists, 1,500 gallons of mustard are needed each year.
  • To satisfy heathens like myself (see selfie above), only 800 gallons of ketchup are required.

Yes, corn (sometimes called maize) is a key ingredient in the batter used for corny dogs, but it’s more than a family resemblance that ties together this State Fair staple and Otis Dozier’s Maize and Windmill. Dozier, a native Texan, was a member of a circle of artists called the Dallas Nine. He regularly submitted works of art to the State Fair of Texas’s creative arts competitions – and he often won. According to a DMA docent, Maize and Windmill is one such blue ribbon winner!

A bonus connection: Dozier’s upbringing on a Mesquite farm instilled in him a lifelong love of agriculture which can be found in his many paintings of farms, fields, flora, and fauna. This ties in pretty neatly with this year’s Celebrating Texas Agriculture theme, don’t you think?

The Fair closes this Sunday, October 23, but these three works of art will still be here to greet you on your next visit, up on Level 4. What other fairly relevant connections can you find? You know that something has to relate to the butter sculpture!

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

Recipe for Art: The DMA’s Delicious New Tour

With a new year beginning, we are delighted to announce a new school tour at the DMA! Starting this month, schools can book “Recipe for Art,” a tour developed for Kindergarten and First Grade visitors by our Manager of Early Learning Programs, Leah Hanson, and our Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs, Josh Rose.

One of the main goals of “Recipe for Art” is to help children make connections between art and their own personal experience. This is done by connecting a familiar idea (that of using a recipe to make a delicious treat) to the way that an artist makes a work of art. Instead of ingredients like flour and sugar, the ingredients for art are the elements of design: shape, line, color and texture.

On the tour, groups will visit four or five different works of art in the collection, in order to talk about the basic elements of design. Groups first explore what the terms mean before then looking closely at the work of art in front of them. This leads to discussion, after which the children engage in a variety of kinetic and multi-sensory activities. These activities were specially designed to address various learning styles and to focus on the attention span and needs of this particular age group.

One important characteristic of these young visitors is their need to move! The tour was specifically designed to give children opportunities for purposeful movement–movement that helps them connect what they see to the motion that they are asked to make. One example of this is an activity based on Jackson Pollock’s Cathedral. The children are each given “paint” (a piece of string) and they throw it onto a “canvas” (a piece of felt), in order to simulate the movement of Pollock’s action painting. This allows the children to burn off some of their energy, while also connecting them with the art!

The “Recipe for Art” tour was developed by members of the DMA staff, but it will be implemented by our wonderful docents, who lead most of our school tours. Yesterday, the docents gathered for a training dedicated to this new tour. Leah gave them an overview of the tour and its origins, before sharing tips and strategies on how to deal with this particular age group. After that, the docents were given an opportunity to look over the supplies for the wide variety of activities that they may use on the tour. I even took some of my fellow McDermott Interns into the galleries to try out some of the activities!

For most visitors of this age group, it will be their first visit to a museum. With this new and unique tour, we’re hoping to make their first experience not only a positive one, but one that they will remember. By teaching these curious and imaginative children the basic elements of design, they will then be equipped with all of the ingredients to make their own art!

We’ve already begun to schedule the “Recipe for Art” through the month of January. If you’re interested in booking a tour for your school or classroom, complete our tour request form online and our Audience Relations Coordinator Madeleine Fitzgerald will get you scheduled!

Liz Bola
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

Measuring the Immeasurable

In January 2014, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) launched a series of activities which take place at a large table in our gallery space.  Each activity is related to a work of art in the C3 Gallery and offers resources to assist in visitors’ creative process.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  •  The Portrait Drawing activity, which focuses on two portrait paintings by William Henry Huddle (Old Slave and Self Portrait), includes mirrors for self-portraiture and facial proportion handouts.
  • The Hybrid Drawing with Light Boxes activity, which focuses on The Minotaur by Marcel Dzama, includes four large light boxes and printouts of works of art from the Museum’s collection so that visitors can combine human and animal figures to draw a hybrid creature.
  • The Patterns with Felt Triangles activity, which focuses on Starry Crown by John Biggers, includes 9×12 inch black felt backgrounds and a colorful assortment of small felt triangles that visitors can use to create patterns similar to those represented in the painting.

After each of the three activities had a one month trial period, we felt certain that they were successful, but wanted to learn more about why and how these activities were successful.  As art educators, we know intrinsically that experiences with art make a difference in people’s lives.  Yet, when we are asked to prove this it can seem an unattainable task.  Proving the importance of art education is perhaps made even more daunting in an informal learning environment where visitors come for various reasons, but generally not to be quizzed about their experiences with art.  So, we sought advice from our evaluator to determine goals, indicators, and potential interview questions for each activity and immediately set to the task of measuring the immeasurable.  Since April, we have observed and interviewed participants at the gallery table each Saturday from 1:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.  During that two and a half hour block of time we have found the following averages:

  • Portrait Drawing– on average 23, adults and 18 children participated; visitors spent about 13.8 minutes drawing with times ranging from 1 – 30 minutes.
  • Hybrid Drawing – on average 27 adults and 36 children participated; visitors spent about 10 minutes drawing with a time range of 1 – 50 minutes.
  • Patterns– on average 11 adults and 9 children participated; visitors spent about 7 minutes creating patterns with a range of 1 – 33 minutes.

Though these averages tell us a lot about how much time people spend and how many people engage in our activities, the most interesting aspect of this evaluation has been hearing our visitors’ feedback and seeing the images they post of their work on social media.

Visitor Feedback:

“Well, it’s like… it’s fun.  Like drawing before was so serious and it had to be perfect, cause you were doing it for a grade.  But this is just for enjoyment.”

“I’m guessing this was made for children? It’s fun and different and I didn’t expect to see this here. Yeah, it’s like that spark of creativity, kind of… childlike.  I didn’t think I’d spend as much time or get into it like I did.”

“People think patterns have to be rigid, like red, yellow, blue and then repeat, but by playing with this you can be more creative.”

“This is more interactive than other galleries. [In] the other galleries you’re just looking, but here you get to do something.”

“I like to do the activity because it gets the kids interested in art, and if I do it, they’ll probably want to try it too.”

“It’s nice to make everyone focus.  I would have never gotten him [points to husband] to do this at home.”

Through this evaluation we have come to better understand our visitors’ habits and motivations. For example, we found that most visitors do not read instructions.  If the instructions are read it is only the main text at the top of the document that catches a visitor’s eye.  This could be because these activities tend to attract visitors who prefer some amount of active doing or making rather than passive looking.  Furthermore, visitors will spend more time participating in activities that provide seating and social interaction.  Regarding motivations, we found that visitors who participate in these activities are likely to have some underlying interest in the media or subject matter presented.

As we move forward and continue to develop activities for the gallery table we will take these lessons into consideration.   We will make our instructions more concise, we will offer activities that involve a social component, and we’ll branch out to include a variety of media so as to appeal to visitors who are interested in diverse artistic processes.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator



Friday Photos: Capturing Culture

Art is often a reflection of a society’s culture; it can range from an artist’s response to a specific experience, to a cultural relic born out of a particular time and place.  The Dallas Museum of Art’s collection represents cultures from every continent over the last 5,000 years.  Help us explore the diversity within North Texas by sharing your photographs that capture culture.

Upload your photographs here: 

Click here for guidelines and more information.

Submitted photos will be on view in the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections starting in July.

Jessica Fuentes

C3 Gallery Coordinator

Art’s Inspiration


Image of Art Smith photo by Arthur Mones, 1979

Image of Art Smith photo by Arthur Mones, 1979

Last weekend, From Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith opened at the Dallas Museum of Art.  In connection with this exhibition, the Center for Creative Connections is pleased to have on view a “Baker” Bracelet by Art Smith, along with a collection of tools owned by the artist.  Because a different “Baker” Bracelet is also on view in the exhibition, we faced the challenge of providing information that would expand on and not simply duplicate the information included in the exhibition.  In the months prior to installing the bracelet, I  learned that “Baker” referred to Josephine Baker.  So, naturally, my first question (and the one that I thought visitors might have) was “Who is Josephine Baker?”

As it turns out, Josephine Baker led quite an amazing life.  Baker was an African-American dancer and singer, who rose to fame in France.  In 1926, her performance in the popular show La Folie du Jour cemented her celebrity status.  During World War II, she worked for the French Resistance both entertaining troops and smuggling hidden messages in her sheet music.  After the war she returned to the United States and was an advocate for the Civil Rights movement.  Her efforts were acknowledged by the NAACP, who named May 20th “Josephine Baker Day.”  Baker, loved for her singing, dancing, fashion and beauty, was greatly admired by artists and writers of the time such as Langston Hughes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso.  However, what I found most intriguing was that she inspired several sculptures by Alexander Calder.  Calder is known to have been an influence on modernist jewelers like Art Smith, and so their mutual interest in Baker caught my attention.


What similarities can you notice in the lines, shapes, angles, and curves between the bracelet and the images of Josephine Baker?

Visit the Center for Creative Connections to see the “Baker” Bracelet and Art Smith’s tools and to learn more about Smith’s inspiration and process.  On view through December 7, 2014.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator

Collection Connections: Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, the groundbreaking artist’s retrospective that spans her career from the mid-1970s to the present, is currently on view at the DMA through June 9, 2013. Her photographs derive inspiration from a myriad of sources, including television, film, art history, high society, and cultural stereotypes. These themes, influences, and connections that run throughout her work can also be explored in many seemingly unrelated artworks in the DMA’s permanent collection.

Like the work of many of her contemporaries, Sherman’s photographs operate in opposition to her modernist predeecssors, like Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams, who elevated form over content. Sherman, on the other hand, is more interested in how photography and images shape and exist within contemporary society. In fact, instead of identifying as a photographer, she sees herself as an artist who uses photography.

  • Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #28, 1979, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Fredericka Hunter and Ian Glennie, Houston. (left)
  • Paul Strand, Abstraction, Porch Shadows Connecticut (1915), negative 1915, print 1976, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Joseph W. Gray, M.D. (right)

Female Contemporaries
Sherman cites several women artists, including Hannah Wilke, Lynda Benglis, Eleanor Antin, and Suzy Lake, as role models for bringing their own female bodies into their artistic practice. She also acknowledges the leading role that females, herself included, played in the formation of postmodernist work, observing: “In the later ’80s… what probably did increase the feeling of community was when more women began to get recognized for their work, most of them in photography: Sherrie [Levine], Laurie [Simmons], Sarah Charlesworth, Barbara Ess… There was a female solidarity.”

  • Sherrie Levine, After Man Ray (La Fortune): 6, 1990, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift. (left)
  • Lynda Benglis, Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), 1969, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund. (upper right)
  • Hannah Wilke, Pink Champagne, 1975, Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman. (lower right)

Portraits and Self-Portraits
Though Sherman serves as the model as well as the artist, director, and producer for all her photographs, she is adamant that none of her photographs are self-portraits. In fact, she feels rather detached from the characters she portrays: “It’s not like I’m method acting or anything. I don’t feel that I am that person… I don’t become her.” Along with the varied works below, Sherman tests the traditional definition of portraiture and self-portraiture.

Cindy Sherman - Untitled #89

  • Cindy Sherman, Untitled #89, 1981, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund.
  • Jackie Saccoccio, Portrait (Hermetic), 2012, Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman. (left)
  • Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream, 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated. (upper right)
  • Jim Dine, Self-Portrait Next to a Colored Window, 1964, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, Contemporary Arts Council Fund. (lower right)

Rococo Influences
Through her partnership with a Limoges porcelain house, Sherman produced a dinnerware and tea service set inspired by Madame de Pompadour. On the DMA’s soup tureen pictured below, Sherman appears dressed up as this famed and influential mistress of King Louis XV. The Museum’s Abduction of Europa was painted by Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre, the Rococo artist who was named First Painter to King Louis XV in 1770.

  • Cindy Sherman, “Madame de Pompadour (née Poisson)” soup tureen with platter, 1990, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund. (left)
  • Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre, The Abduction of Europa, 1750, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund.

Sherman states: “Film has always been more influential to me than the art world.” In fact, her seminal body of work–the Untitled Film Stills produced from 1977 to 1980–visually recalls 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, B-movies, and works by directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Douglas Sirk. The two artists whose works are shown below found a similar inspiration in film.

  • Marlo Pascual, Untitled, 2009, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund. (left)
  • Luc Tuymans, The Man from Wiels II, 2008, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the DMA/amfAr Benefit Auction Fund. (right)

Alex Vargo
McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching

Make This: Poured Paint Sculptures


Studio Creations participants share their thoughts about Lynda Benglis’ work.

During Studio Creations this month, we looked at Lynda Benglis’ Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), part of the special exhibition Difference?. There are many aspects of this work of art that make it fun to talk about with people, but what I find the most interesting is the way it challenges how we define painting and sculpture. To me, it really lives between the two! This idea provided the catalyst for our Studio Creations art making activity. During each workshop, visitors created poured paintings based on chance, which, when dry, could be peeled from the painting surface and made into something sculptural. Here’s a quick tutorial for creating the project at home with your family:


  • Gloss medium or Liquitex pouring medium (available at most art supply stores)
  • Acrylic paint (I prefer gloss acrylics, but any type will work well)
  • Painting surface: A sheet of cardboard covered with heavy plastic (or something similar)
  • Squeeze bottles or cups for dispensing paint
  • Toothpicks for adding designs (optional)


Plastic-covered painting surface, gloss medium, and acrylic paint in squeeze bottles



Squeeze a small amount of gloss medium onto the painting surface. Using your squeeze bottles or cups, drop a little bit of paint into the medium. There’s no right or wrong way to do this so feel free to experiment! Try planning it out or putting the paint in randomly.


Now try tilting your painting surface in different directions. The paint will start to run depending on the direction and angle that you tilt it. This is where the part about chance comes in–you only have a certain amount of control over the paint as it moves. Chance played a big role in the way that Lynda Benglis created Odalisque–she didn’t have any control over the paint after pouring it.


Whenever you feel like it, add more paint. But be sure to drop it into the medium–otherwise, it could break off from the rest of the painting when dry. Continue adding paint and tilting the surface until your painting almost reaches the edge.


When you are finished, let your painting dry for at least one day. If you added a lot of paint, it may need an extra day or two to fully dry. Afterwards, carefully peel the painting away from the painting surface–it should be plastic-like in consistency.

Now try making it into something sculptural! Your painting can easily be cut and molded. Some ideas that came up during Studio Creations were: a mask, a bowl, a mouse pad, a jacket, and a sun catcher, among others. If you’d like to share your creation with us, feel free to send an image to and I’ll post it on our Flickr page.


Finished painting


Almost sculptural, don’t you think?


Detail of paint surface


  • Your painting does not have to look a certain way. Have fun and experiment!
  • For best results, I suggest using pouring medium instead of gloss medium. It’s a little bit more expensive, and it’s only made by Liquitex, but it was designed for projects just like this one and can prevent “crazing” in the paint. For super-duper results, mix a little bit of gloss or pouring medium into your paint before you start your project. One part medium to ten parts paint should be perfect. You can also try string medium!
  • You can get different designs by letting the paint run in one direction for a while and then turning it in another direction. This is really good for making swirls, circles, etc. You can use a toothpick to create fine lines as well.
  • The medium dries clear.
  • Lots of other cool poured paint projects can be found online!
  • Further questions? Feel free to shoot me an email!

JC Bigornia
C3 Program Coordinator

Reading the Cards: Part 4

This post is the fourth in a larger series finding connections between the ever-mystical tarot cards and the extraordinary collection of the Dallas Museum of Art. Head over to the first, second, and third posts for an introduction and earlier connections.

The Magician is the first trump card in a tarot deck.  Shown as a youthful figure, the Magician is often thought to represent Apollo, the Greek sun god.  This association speaks to bringing light to the darkness and addressing avoided issues.

Benjamin West, Apollo's Enchantment, 1807, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Robert A. Beyers

Benjamin West, Apollo’s Enchantment, 1807, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Robert A. Beyers

Surrounded by the pantheon of Greek gods and muses, Benjamin West’s Apollo is bathed in the light of the sun.  Apollo enchants his audience with his skill at the lyre, as he is the god of music as well as the sun.

The Moon is the eighteenth major arcana card.  With the face of the subconscious mind gazing calmly upon the scene, the Moon depicts a dog, wolf, and water creature of sorts (in this case a lobster).  The card often represents sleep patterns, dreams, and nightmares- with the animals shown symbolizing the fears of man.

Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association commission, Neiman-Marcus Company Exposition Funds

Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association commission, Neiman-Marcus Company Exposition Funds

Surrounding the theme of “man excelling himself,” Rufino Tamayo created the mural El Hombre as a commision for the Dallas Art Association.  Tamayo’s painted figure points into the starry sky in search of our place in the cosmos.  The dog in the lower-left corner blends into the dark ground as it gnaws on a bone- representing man’s baser instincts.

The Star is the seventeenth trump card.  Contributing liquid to both the pool of subconsciousness and the material world, a naked woman kneels directly beneath an exaggerated star.  In a tarot spread, the Star represents renewed hope, inspiration, and discovery.

Simon Starling, Venus Mirror (8/6/08, Copenhagen), 2011, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Simon Starling, Venus Mirror (8/6/08, Copenhagen), 2011, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Simon Starling’s mirror alludes to the original documentation of the planet Venus’ path accross the sky by Pierre César Jules Janssen.  Undertaken in 1974, the French astronomer developed a special daguerreotype camera to document Venus’ movement.  The telescope-camera hybrid recorded the multiple exposures on a single circular daguerreotype plate.

Strength is numbered as eleven or eight depending on the deck.  Historically titled Fortitude, the design has consistenly portrayed a lion submitting to the gentle touch of a woman.  When selected for a tarot reading, the card implies one’s control of the primal qualities of man.

Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom, 1846-1847, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund

Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom, 1846-1847, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund

Based on Christian scripture, Edward Hicks created a scene of spiritual and earthly harmony amongst men and animals.  At the left side of the painting, William Penn signs a peace treaty with the Native American peoples of the Delaware Valley- a historic model for peaceful coexistence.

The Sun is the nineteenth of the major arcana cards.  Riding beneath the anthropomorphized sun, a small child sits astride a white horse- both symbols of innocence and purity.  With the red flag representing renewal, this card points to personal power, optimism, and enlightenment.

Constantin Brancusi, Beginning of the World, c.1920, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark

Constantin Brancusi, Beginning of the World, c.1920, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark

Provocative in nature, the sculpture’s title, Beginning of the World, is full of potential associations.  When paired with the simple geometric and natural shapes, the title hints to new beginnings, concepts, and discoveries.

My next and final Reading the Cards post will look at Temperance, the Tower, the Wheel of Fortune, and the World.

Pilar Wong

McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

Home for the Holidays

With the holidays upon us, there has been a lot of talk of travel, family, and traditions. Everyone’s experience is unique, so I asked some of my fellow bloggers to choose a work of art from the DMA’s collection that reminds them of home during the holidays.

Studio of Pere Espalargues, Altarpiece, second half of 15th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Leicester Busch Faust and Audrey Faust Wallace in memory of Anna Busch Faust and Edward A. Faust.

Studio of Pere Espalargues, Altarpiece, second half of 15th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Leicester Busch Faust and Audrey Faust Wallace in memory of Anna Busch Faust and Edward A. Faust.

My choice is this 15th century altarpiece. It makes me think of my family’s annual visit to The Cloisters museum in New York. We’ve been going there around Christmastime since I can remember. I would always hunt down my favorite two pieces: the Merode Altarpiece from the workshop of Robert Campin and an insanely intricate rosary bead made from boxwood. Though as a kid I had to be dragged there kicking and screaming, I can now appreciate this wonderful family tradition, and I’m looking forward to returning very soon.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Bare Tree Trunks with Snow, 1946, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Bare Tree Trunks with Snow, 1946, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase.

Danielle Schulz: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Bare Tree Trunks with Snow reminds me of going home to Albuquerque for the holidays. I can just imagine that these bare trees are in my mother’s backyard. The few trees that we do have in New Mexico are quite bare like the painting shows, but become so much more beautiful when it snows. When I look at this painting, all I want to do is curl up in front of the fireplace, eat some green chile stew and watch A Christmas Story on repeat!

John Ward Lockwood, Magic of the Snow, 1945-1946, Dallas Museum of Art, Lida Hooe Memorial Fund.

John Ward Lockwood, Magic of the Snow, 1945-1946, Dallas Museum of Art, Lida Hooe Memorial Fund.

Pilar Wong: I chose Magic of the Snow because the colors are reminiscent of my hometown of Delta, Colorado. While snowy landscapes are dominated by shimmery whites, the blue of the mountains and tan of the shrubbery creates a winter wonderland!

Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancers on the Stage, 1883, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin B. Bartholow.

Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancers on the Stage, 1883, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin B. Bartholow.

Leah Hanson: I would pick Edgar Degas’ Ballet Dancers on Stage. When I was little, we had a tradition of going to see The Nutcracker every year. My sister and I would get dressed up in our Christmas dresses (usually matching!), and every year it was magical to watch Clara and her Christmas tree that grows and grows and the Nutcracker who comes to life. After the show, we’d twirl around in our dresses and reenact our favorite parts – the Arabian dancers, the Russian dancers, and of course, the Sugarplum Fairy. One of my favorites!

Clara McDonald Williamson, Get Along Little Dogies, 1945, Dallas Museum of Art, Ted Dealey Purchase Prize, Seventeenth Annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition.

Clara McDonald Williamson, Get Along Little Dogies, 1945, Dallas Museum of Art, Ted Dealey Purchase Prize, Seventeenth Annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition.

Amanda Blake: The work of art that reminds me of the holidays is Get Along Little Dogies by Clara McDonald Williamson because I grew up spending Christmas on farms in Oklahoma with both sets of grandparents. This painting reminds me of the view of cattle and wide-open space as we would drive from Kansas to Oklahoma.

Harold Holdway (designer), Regimental Oak shape dinner plate with Christmas Tree pattern, designed 1938, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Stephen Harrison in honor of George Roland.

Harold Holdway (designer), Regimental Oak shape dinner plate with Christmas Tree pattern, designed 1938, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Stephen Harrison in honor of George Roland.

Amy Copeland: For me, nothing says the holidays like this pattern. My family gathers with our neighbors for holiday meals, and the bunch of us have eaten many a Christmas dinner off plates like these.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the DMA!

Alex Vargo
McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching

Reading the Cards: Part 3

This post is the third in a larger series finding connections between the ever-mystical tarot cards and the extraordinary collection of the Dallas Museum of Art. Head over to the first and second posts for an introduction and earlier connections.

The Hierophant is the fifth trump card and is occasionally referred to as the Pope.  The term hierophant literally means one who teaches holy things.  With two fingers pointing skyward and two downward, the Hierophant’s hand raised in benediction forms a bridge between heaven and earth.  This card represents seeking guidance from positive role models as the Hierophant is seen as a pillar of the community.

Standing power figure (nkisi nkondi),Yombe peoples, late 19th to early 20th century, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the McDermott Foundation

Minkisi (the plural term for nkisi) are containers for magical substances or medicines that empower them to protect the community against negative forces.  This standing power figure belongs to a class of minkisi called nkondi.  The term translated is “hunter” of wrongdoers in matters of civil law.  Truly a pillar of the community, the hunter is simultaneously chief, doctor, priest and judge.

The High Priestess is the second major arcana card in a tarot deck.  She is represented in plain robes wearing a horned diadem on her head and a large cross on her chest.  The High Priestess is always shown between two pillars- one white and one black.  Labeled “B” and “J,” the columns represent Boaz and Jachin of the mystic Temple of Solomon.  This card is associated with knowledge, love, and common sense.

Matthew Barney, CREMASTER 3: Hiram Abiff, 2002, Dallas Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Fund: Gif of Arlene and john Dayton, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon E. Faulconer, Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., Margurerite and Robert K. Hoffman, Cindy and Howerd Rachofsky, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Gayle and Paul Stoffel, and three anonymous donors; DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund; and Roberta Coke Camp Fund

Cast by Matthew Barney in the film CREMASTER 3, American sculptor Richard Serra portrays the master architect of the Chrysler building.  In this freeze frame, Serra stands in front of two industrial columns, a reference to two pillars designed by Hiram Abiff, the mythic architect of Solomon’s Temple, who possessed knowledge of the mysteries of the universe.

Judgement is the twentieth trump card in the tarot deck.  Modeled after the Christian resurrection prior to the final judgmenet day, the scene depicts an angel, likely Gabriel, descending to earth sounding a trumpet.  Below, grayish men, women, and children celebrate the angel’s arrival with open arms as they emerge from crypts and graves.  When used for divination purposes the card signals an impending judgement or the resurrection of past errors.

Emma-O, late 16th-early 17th century, Dallas Museum of Art, Wendover Fund in memory of Alfred and Juanita Bromberg an dthe Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

The title Emma-O is the Japanese translation of Yama, the Hindu god of death.  Based in Buddhism, the idea of Emma-O as the King of Hells originated in China before spreading to Japan.  Wearing the costume of a Chinese judge, Emma-O was thought to determine how your spirit would be reincarnated in your next life.  He was seen as a beneficient power despite his snarling face, which was thought to avert evil.

Justice is numbered either eight or eleven depending on the deck .  Shown seated and holding the scales of justice and the equalizing sword aloft, Justice meditates on various claims of right, morality, and duty.  When Justice appears in a spread, the card signals an injustice that requires righting.

Helmet mask (gye), Guro peoples, mid-20th century, Dallas Museum of Art, The otis and Velma Davis Dozier Fund

The most powerful of masks, gye represent the highest judicial authority.  A person wearing such a mask can judge disputes, negotiate peace treties, and make momentous decisions on behalf of the community.  Worn while dancing atop burning coals, this mask depicts the trustworthy and loyal African buffalo.

The Lovers is the sixth trump card in a tarot deck.  Still nude, Adam and Eve flank the cherub that is presumably ordering them from the Garden of Eden.  Representing the impulse that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden, the Lovers exemplify the transition from innocence to experience.  This transition could manifest due to curiosity, desire, or duty.

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

An example of magic realism, Henry Koerner’s June Night is a glance at life after leaving the garden.  Contrasting blissful wedding connotations with the harsh qualities of a brick apartment building, this painting comments on the realities of married life, post-honeymoon phase.  The crying child painted on the lower wall brings to mind late night feedings and diaper changes.

Stay tuned for my next post featuring the Magician, the Moon, the Star, Strength, and the Sun.

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching


Flickr Photo Stream