Posts Tagged 'creativity'



Community at LARGE

If you’ve visited the Center for Creative Connections (C3) within the last week, you may have noticed that the popular Art Spot is currently under construction. In addition to this redesign, we’re also installing a new work of art and related activity. Often when we plan these types of activities, we begin with the work of art as inspiration. This time, however, we started with the activity and found a work of art that fit.

Last summer during our July Late Night we hosted a drop-in program in the C3 Studio where visitors participated in a communal grid enlargement project. As visitors entered the studio they received a small image square and a larger blank card. Their task was to paint the image from their square onto their blank card and then display their painted card on a large grid in the back of the room. Over the course of the evening, the identity of the two paintings were revealed as visitors completed their cards and added them to the wall. The activity was such a success that we decided to recreate it in the C3 gallery this summer.

The question was, which work of art to choose? We had a few ideas that guided our decision. First, since this is an enlargement activity, we were looking for a relatively small work of art. Also, since the activity takes place in the gallery, visitors will be limited to using colored pencils, so we wanted a work of art that demonstrated that kind of mark-making. Originally we considered a drawing, but after consulting with our registrars, we found that lithographs or engravings might also be a good option. Finally, subject matter was of great importance; we wanted something bright and lively. All of these specifications led us directly to Progress Suite by Luis Alfonso Jimenez, Jr.

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Progress Suite exemplifies all of these qualities: it’s a colorful dynamic lithograph created by a Texas-born artist, measuring 23.5 inches x 35 inches. It will be enlarged by visitors to 300% of its original size. This mock-up illustrates just how large the activity will be.

c3 Protoyping Wall Elevation

Throughout the summer, as more visitors participate, the drawing will grow and evolve. Stop by the Center for Creative Connections to contribute to our scaled-up reproduction of Progress Suite and watch how this “living” drawing, made by our community, changes over time.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Manager

Let’s Hear It for the Kids!

Let’s hear it for the kids! This week (April 12-18) is Week of the Young ChildTM. Never heard of it? The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) established this annual tradition in 1971 to “focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.” This year’s theme is “Celebrating our Youngest Learners,” and here at the DMA, we love nothing more than doing just that!

In honor of Week of the Young Child, I thought I’d share what we love most about the children who have become part of our DMA family over the years.

They are honest.

AAM Feb 2015

In preschools across the country, teachers often refer to the children as “friends.” So rather than calling out “boys and girls” when it’s time to leave the playground, you might hear someone say “all my friends—it’s time to go!” I often use this language in the Arturo’s Preschool classes I teach here at the DMA. One morning as we were sitting in front of Frank Gehry’s Easy Edges chair, I asked “Friends—what material do you think the artist used to make this chair?” Without missing a beat, a little boy looked me square in the eyes and said, “I’m not your friend!” Ouch! I laughed and did my best to win him over by the time we went down to the studio. I love knowing that four year-olds will give it to you straight!

They are curious.

Another admirable trait I often see in the preschool crowd is that they are excited about pretty much anything! Wherever we go in the galleries, they always want to make sense of what they see and figure out how it connects to their own lives. Once during a class focused on the art of ancient Egypt, I asked the children to imagine what life would have been like with no TVs, no electricity, no cars. One little girl piped up with all the authority of a wise three year-old, “they used cans and strings, right?” She cleverly deduced that if the Egyptians didn’t have the kinds of phones we have today, they must have used tin cans and strings to communicate! She wasn’t deterred by the concept of “long ago and far away”—but instead, she found a way to relate abstract ideas to her concrete reality. Brilliant. (And I just love the image of Pharoah calling down to his court on a tin can).

They are open-minded.

Picasso Portraits

Young children are incredibly willing to entertain new ideas and explore new possibilities in art. While an adult might look at a painting and ask “why is this art?,” children move beyond “why” and ask “how,” “where,” “when” and “can I try it too?” This month we’ve been learning about the artist Pablo Picasso and Cubism. Inevitably, when I show the children a cubist portrait, they giggle and say “that’s a crazy face!” But then they take a closer look and are delighted when they find the nose and ears and eyes and can explain what the artist did to surprise us.

They are creative.

Arturo's Art and Me 12.2014

You can’t help but feel the buzz of creativity and the energy of little fingers at work when you step into an early learning studio class. Whether they are painting with their feet, concentrating on sewing stitches onto burlap, or experimenting with watercolor, young children are fearless when it comes to making art—something I think we can all aspire to. They dive in, not concerned about doing it “right” or making it look “just so.” They enjoy the materials for what they are, and love to see what paint or markers or paper or their own two hands can do! And when they’re done, they can’t wait to show off their work and tell you all about it.

This year, April 16th is Artsy Thursday, so grab your crayons and paint, and celebrate the young children in your life!

For more ideas on how you can celebrate Week of the Young ChildTM, check out the resources and suggestions on the NAEYC website.

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

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.

The Mother Load Project Installation_balance

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

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

Hands-On Learning: Not Just for Kids

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

c3 sign.jpg

The Center for Creative Connections (C3) is unique because we focus on learning by doing. That means we design activities for people of all ages to learn about works of art from the collection by participating in a hands-on way. The activities we create to accompany works of art prompt visitors to engage in ways that are different from the standard didactic approach of a wall label. In C3, we want to provide experiences where visitors can make personal connections by drawing, writing, making, and discussing works of art with each other.

This kind of active engagement carries a certain stigma; many people assume that it’s only for kids, mainly because we are used to seeing activities like these in children’s museums. Part of our design process is to evaluate visitors’ experiences by observation, interviewing and counting. We’ve learned that half of our participants are adults and that there is a reoccurring theme in their comments regarding why they participate. So, why do adults flock to C3 to draw, write, make, and talk about art? Because it connects them to a childlike curiosity and creativity which, as an adult, often takes a backseat to other responsibilities and tasks.

JFuentes_image2.jpg

In January 2014, we installed a large table in the middle of the C3 Gallery, that hosts three activities that rotate on a monthly basis. As a part of the evaluation of these activities, we interviewed visitors about their motivations for participating, their past experience with art making, and their view of the value derived from participating in a making activity at the Museum. I was repeatedly intrigued by the responses of the adult participants.

For example, I spoke with a couple participating in a portrait drawing activity which encouraged close looking at the proportions and scale of the human face.  The couple, in their mid-thirties, each claimed to have no artistic experience. Through our conversation, they divulged that they both graduated from arts based college programs. “I went for fashion, like a BFA in Design, and he went for Graphic Design. We don’t really draw in our free-time though, I mean, he does for work,” the woman stated as she looked over at the man who accompanied her. He added, “Yeah, but just on the computer.” Then the woman broke in, “And I do for work, but it’s not the same. Like, I do fashion sketches, not this kind of drawing.” I prodded them a bit to understand what “this kind of drawing,” meant. “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.”

This idea was reinforced by further conversations with other adult participants: drawing, making, and discussing in C3 is fun in a freeing kind of way. I interviewed another thirty-something couple drawing at a light box activity designed to assist in the making of hybrid imagery. The man began with, “I’m guessing this was made for children? It’s fun and different and I didn’t expect to see this here.” The woman with him agreed, “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.” A sixty-something man participating in the portrait drawing activity remarked, “I used to take art classes, but it’s been so long ago… it’s like I forgot that and I saw this and I remembered.” This feeling of nostalgia for something that is no longer a part of someone’s everyday life was also a common response from adults. Many adults responded that they enjoy drawing or making but, “don’t do it enough.”

JFuentes_image3.jpg

Aside from drawing based activities, the Center for Creative Connections also has a drop-in art making area with large communal tables called the Art Spot, which we say is the place for “anytime art-making for everyone.” We invite visitors to explore their creativity by making creations out of unexpected or everyday materials. Every two months we change the materials and provide a prompt to inspire ideas. Each time I’m hesitant and wonder, “What will people make with this?” But, I am always delighted and surprised by the imaginative creations that are made and left behind. Children often come to C3 and head straight for the Art Spot, while adults can be a bit more tentative. However, regardless of age, most visitors stay anywhere from 5 minutes to two hours, with an average of about 20 minutes. Once they gather their materials they become immersed in their creation. For some it is a hands-on problem solving activity while for others it is about manipulating materials. How can you combine these objects (cups, spoons, paperclips, wire, egg cartons, cardboard, etc.) into something unique and surprising? This kind of open-ended activity, reminiscent of childhood playing and pretending, is not often made available to adults. I frequently watch my eight-year-old daughter take something like a toilet paper roll and turn it into a piano for her dollhouse, or repurpose a cardboard box to make an enormous rocket ship. This nostalgia for childhood play was brought perfectly into perspective by a recent Art Spot creation.

artspot creation.jpg

At the DMA, learning can take many approaches and forms. We strive to be inclusive so that we can reach visitors with a multitude of interests and experiences and preferences for learning. In the Center for Creative Connections, our mission is to engage visitors of all ages with works of art and the creative process of artists. We hope that by designing participatory ways to learn we will provide fun and playful activities for all of our visitors, regardless of their age.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator

Translating Culture II Collaboration

In mid-October, Center for Creative Connections staff embarked on an exciting collaboration with Janeil Engelstad from Make Art with Purpose and a group of students from the Skyline High School Architecture cluster led by teacher Peter Goldstein.

Skyline students have been visiting the DMA on a weekly basis to become acquainted with our collection. During the visits, the students explore the ways in which art can have cultural and personal significance by responding both critically and creatively through activities, dialogue, and reflection.

Starting on Level 4 with American Art and moving all the way to Level 1 with our Contemporary collection, the students have been talking, writing, and drawing works of art that they want to include on their own tour, which will be used to create a new smARTphone tour of the Museum. We also make weekly visits to their high school to further explore the collection and discuss the types of responses that will become content for stops on their tour.

The project is part of Translating Culture, an initiative that launched last year that aims to create links with the community by inviting groups to collaborate with staff through a series of workshops to inspire dialogue for mutual understanding and varied perspectives on the collection. While intending to inspire the use of art as a means of further understanding oneself and the world we live in, Translating Culture II also hopes to give the students a sense of ownership of the Museum and a platform from which to speak out their thoughts and concerns in order to engage their peers and the wider community.

We will continue to meet with the students until the end of November, at which point all the student work will be collected and prototyped into their bilingual smARTphone tour in early 2015. Stay posted for more detailed information on the project and a behind-the-scenes peek at students’ work, such as those below which include a sketch by student Miguel Martinez based on The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church, a drawing by Edith Cruz inspired by Renoir’s Lise Sewing and a set of sketches by Guadalupe Murillo during her visit to The Silk Road exhibit on Level 3.

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Eliel Jones
McDermott Intern for Visitor Engagement

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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