Posts Tagged 'DMA Access Programs'

Our Harp’s Delight

July’s Meaningful Moments program was all about music as participants explored The Harp Lesson by Jean Antoine Théodore Giroust. While closely examining the 18th century French painting, participants shared their memories related to learning to play a musical instrument.

We were joined in the galleries by harpist Cindy Horstman, who shared her own experiences of learning the harp in college and becoming a professional musician. Cindy brought The Harp Lesson to life as she plucked away at her harp, filling the gallery with music.

35618284220_a986f1612c_k

Cindy began by playing “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach, a piece of music that was popular during the time The Harp Lesson was painted. She also wowed us with a wide-ranging assortment of music including “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles and “Summertime” by George Gershwin, all played from memory!

At the end of the program, participants were already asking when Cindy could return again.

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

Go van Gogh-ing on a Colorful Classroom Adventure

The newest Go van Gogh program involves two things that are deeply exciting in my book: expanding outreach to a new audience and getting messy with paint!

Color My World is a one-hour outreach experience for elementary students in Special Education classrooms. The program was developed by Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences Amanda Blake, and it takes the best of what we do in Museum Access programs—creating multi-sensory activities for a range of abilities—and brings it out to schools.

Color My World is a colorful adventure in a variety of media. Students listen to a story, watch color-mixing experiments, discuss the color wheel, and paint two artworks using a variety of ordinary (and extraordinary!) painting tools. We explore and take inspiration for our color-mixing and painting techniques from artworks in the Museum’s collection.

Color My World is offered to mixed-age Special Education classes within Dallas city limits. Programs take place on selected Monday afternoons and may begin at or after 1:00 p.m. If you are interested in requesting a program for your Special Education classroom, please email me.

And then grab a smock, ready your palette, and let’s get to painting!

Amy Copeland
Manager of Go van Gogh and Community Teaching Programs

Creative Arts Center + VSA Texas

Creative Arts Center of Dallas

On Friday, July 12, Amanda Blake and I visited the Creative Arts Center of Dallas (CAC), a non-profit organization located on a two-acre campus near White Rock Lake. The CAC’s mission is to provide a “nurturing environment for people to discover, develop and express their artistic visions” through hands-on classes and workshops. The reason for our visit was to attend a training session hosted by VSA Texas, the state organization on arts and disability. VSA Texas is a member of the international network of VSA, a non-profit affiliate of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Based in Austin, VSA Texas works to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.

The focus of the training session was learning how to create accessible artistic environments, be they classes or workshops, for people of all cognitive and developmental abilities. Amanda and I currently lead monthly art experiences for adults with developmental disabilities through our partnership with the ARC of Dallas. Each class includes a gallery discussion, an interactive component, and an art-making activity in the Art Studio. We hoped that this hands-on training with VSA Texas would increase our skill-set and provide us with new ideas that could be introduced into our Access programs. We were joined by artists who currently lead art classes at CAC, but only teach typically developing students. This training was meant to pave the way for CAC’s new ARTability program, which would provide a variety of art making classes to the Dallas disability community.

CAC3

Oftentimes, people with disabilities have had little to no exposure to art; not as a child in school nor in their group or individual homes as adults. Celia Hughes and April Sullivan–VSA Texas Executive Director and Artworks Director respectively–led our training and explained that designing art-making opportunities for people with disabilities does not involve creating completely new lessons, but rather simplifying concepts and adapting artistic processes so that they are more accessible to a wider variety of developmental levels. “Take nothing for granted,” Hughes said, “break everything down into one step at a time.”

For example, the first step of an art lesson could be discussing paintbrushes: how to choose a brush and how to properly clean and take care of it. Though this concept could seem elementary to typically developing students, it is something that students with disabilities may have never encountered.

Hughes and Sullivan also explained that initial projects, for those just beginning to delve into art classes, should be based on perceivable concepts–something the student can physically see–rather than jumping into creating from imagination right away. This level of artistic freedom could be too much to handle for some beginning students, resulting in frustration.

A good inaugural lesson could be a simple collaged still-life: there is something concrete for the students to reference (a bowl of fruit), basic skills explored (tearing and gluing), and fundamental artistic concepts covered (composition). As a group, we completed all the steps involved in this collaged still-life lesson, all the while discussing the potential obstacles and teachable moments that could occur.

This training was an opportunity for community and museum educators to discuss the multitude of ways we can create accessible art making opportunities and engage people with disabilities. I think it also enabled us to reflect upon the importance of arts institutions bridging this artistic gap and providing access to high quality art education experiences to people of all abilities.

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Meaningful Moments with Mozley

The Dallas Museum of Art offers a wide variety of educational programs, classes and workshops for the diverse set of guests who visit the Museum each day, and I feel lucky to be a part of a great number of these. One of my favorite classes to work with has been the Meaningful Moments group, which is a part of the DMA’s Access Programs for visitors with special needs. Meaningful Moments is a monthly program designed specifically for individuals with early stage dementia and their family members or caregivers. Every month, education staff design an interactive class with conversation time in the galleries, as well as a studio component. Each monthly session focuses on a particular creative theme, ranging from special exhibitions, to artworks from a particular artistic genre or geographic location, to visiting artists. April’s theme centered on the Loren Mozley: Structural Integrity exhibition, on view at the DMA until June 30.

Meaningful Moments group in Loren Mozley.

Meaningful Moments group in Loren Mozley: Structural Integrity

Loren Mozley, though an artist in his own right, played a key role in shaping generations of young Texas artists who received instruction from him during his thirty-seven year tenure in the art department at The University of Texas at Austin. This was a wonderful exhibit to share with the Meaningful Moments group because it centers on a Texas-based artist who was heavily influence by nature–themes which are central to the lives of many participants.

As part of the program, we encourage conversation and the mutual sharing of stories, as this type of socialization and exchange can not only build a stronger relationship to the works of art, but also fortify the bond between the individuals with Alzheimer’s and their spouse or caregiver. With more than 500,000 people over the age of 65 nationwide affected by Early Onset Alzheimer’s, and with no known cure, the DMA and other art institutions are offering creative ways of potentially slowing down the progression of the disease in the early stages. It is hoped that facilitated conversations about art, which encourage focused looking, responding and remembering, will offer joyous moments and strengthen cognitive skills.

In the Loren Mozley program, participants shared stories with one another regarding their vacations to central Texas or New Mexico, drawing connections between their perceptions of the landscape and those that Mozley presented in his artwork.  Additionally, they were eager to learn more about and discuss Mozley’s friendship with Georgia O’Keeffe and his admiration for Paul Cezanne.

Our fruitful gallery discussion was followed by an open-ended studio activity that related back to Loren Mozley’s artistic process. We took advantage of the gorgeous April day and walked over the to Klyde Warren Park to engage in some still life and landscape drawing. Armed with sketch pad and charcoal, couples sat throughout the park and created their own works of art, which they shared with one another.

The Meaningful Moments program has garnered attention as the first program of its kind in Dallas, taking shape a little over five years ago. For this reason, there is a wonderful sense of community and friendship among members, many of whom have attended since the program’s inception. This program is so much more than a monthly outing to an art museum for adults with early stage dementia and their care partners. It’s special, for both staff and visitors, because it is an opportunity for a group of friends to share their collective life experiences and love of art with one another.

Two couples in the Meaningful Moments group

Two couples in the Meaningful Moments group

To become involved in the Meaningful Moments program, or to learn more about the DMA’s Access programming in general, please call 214-922-1251 or e-mail us at our Access programs address.

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Art and Access at the DMA

April is Autism Awareness Month and autism-focused events, fundraisers, walks, and lectures abound all over the country. While most people have likely heard of autism, Autism Awareness Month highlights the growing need for awareness and promotes ways to support and accept people on the autism spectrum. Chances are that you know of someone with autism, since an autism spectrum disorder occurs in about 1 in 88 individuals.

Autism is different for everyone. Symptoms may include mild challenges for those who are high functioning, while others may have more severe symptoms affecting their daily life. Because it’s difficult to predict the behavior of children with autism, parents can feel intimidated bringing their child to an art museum and tend to be more comfortable participating in specifically designed activities alongside other similar families.

The DMA’s Autism Awareness Family Celebrations, which take place throughout the year, provide a safe, comfortable way for children with autism and their families to experience the Museum together. In the Center for Creative Connections, families can participate in gallery experiences, enjoy an interactive musical performance, explore hands-on activities in the courtyard, relax in a quiet sensory room run by occupational therapy students from Texas Women’s University, and create works of art in the C3 Studio – all before the Museum opens to the public.

We work closely with an autism specialist and Autism Speaks to plan programming for Autism Awareness Family Celebrations, taking into account the specific needs of the audience and the innovative tools available in C3. This invaluable partnership results in the creation of customized social stories about visiting the DMA, which are sent to parents in advance of each event so they can talk through the visit with their child at home.

Many parents note that after attending an Autism Awareness Family Celebration, they feel more comfortable with their child in a museum setting. One such mother, Jennifer Linde, had trouble finding opportunities for her family to be creative together and interact alongside other families. Her goal as a mom is to teach her son with autism, Alex, how to be as independent as possible. Jennifer never considered taking her two children to a museum because of Alex’s behavioral issues. After discovering the Autism Awareness Family Celebrations at the Dallas Museum of Art, Jennifer  now feels differently. The events give her family a wonderful opportunity to allow her son to develop his social skills and explore new interests while not worrying about the reactions of other people, something she says is often an issue for their family. The Linde family attends most Autism Awareness Family Celebrations and Alex has participated in our summer art camp for kids with autism for the past two years.

Alex loves to draw and usually draws machines and robots–never figures–in black and white. At the Autism Awareness Family Celebration in April 2011, Alex participated in sketching in the galleries and then went to our courtyard to experience music by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where he saw kids using streamers to move to the music. After the performance, Alex returned to sketching and created another drawing. His mother was overjoyed when she saw what he had drawn: figures all over the paper with streamers–in color! It was a magical morning for the Linde family. Check out photos of Alex below – including his colorful streamer drawing!

We are excited be in our fourth year of offering Autism Awareness Family Celebrations and our third year of offering a summer art camp for kids on the spectrum. Our next event happens this Saturday, April 6, and is themed around music and nature with a special performance by a violin duo from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. We look forward to seeing families connecting with one another and with works of art while having fun together at the DMA!

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences

Friday Photos: Zen Gardening

We have a great time each month with participants of Meaningful Moments, the DMA’s program for visitors with early stage dementia and their care partners. During last week’s program, Susan Morgan, Senior Manager of Therapeutic Horticulture at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, joined us to teach about the art of Zen gardens.

Our program began in the Asian art galleries discussing lotus flowers in various works of art. We ended in the European galleries talking about the influence of Eastern art on artists like Claude Monet. Back in the studio, everyone had the opportunity to create their own custom Zen garden while Susan told us about the symbolism of the nature elements and the ways to care for Japanese rock gardens. It was a relaxing experience for all!

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,578 other followers

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories