Posts Tagged 'docent'

Staff Spotlight: Shannon Karol

Usually, I interview artists, educators, and community partners with whom we partner in various programs.  This month, I’m turning the spotlight on our own Shannon Karol.  Shannon has worked at the DMA since 2005, with the exception of a short stint back in her home state of Michigan.

Tell us about your history with the DMA.

I first came to the Museum in 2005 as a McDermott Graduate Curatorial Intern, and I worked with Dr. Roslyn Walker, our Curator of African art.  A big part of my intern responsibilities was working with scholars to gain permission to use their contextual photos in our catalog of the African collection.  I did a bit of background research for the catalog, too.

I went away for a year to work at the Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University, and returned to the DMA in August 2007 as Tour Coordinator.

Just last month, I was promoted to Manager of Docent Teaching and Gallery Interpretation.  I’m now responsible for the Museum’s 108 docents, which includes training and helping them learn best practices for teaching in the galleries.  I’ll also continue to work with some of our partner schools and school districts on their annual museum visits.

To what part of your new position are you most looking forward?

The most immediate thing I’m looking forward to is representing the Museum at the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I’ll be there to talk about connections between the Cowboys Stadium Art Program and our Big New Field exhibition.

I’m also looking forward to training a new docent class and helping them get excited and prepared to be in the galleries with our student visitors.

On the field at Cowboys Stadium last fall with Molly and Amy

What do you miss most about Michigan?  What do you like most about Texas?

I miss my family the most.  But I do not miss the snow.

What I like most about Texas is having a part of my family here and spending time with my three  teenage cousins, two of whom are teen docents.  I also love the Texas weather when it’s seventy degrees and sunny in January.

What do you do in your free time?

I sew.  I enjoy making purses and skirts, and I’m currently working on a dress that I plan to wear in Paris when I visit for the first time this summer.

How does your love for teaching with works of art extend outside the DMA?

Once a year, when I go home to visit my family in Michigan, I go to school with my sister to talk with her third-grade students about art.  We look at images of famous works of art, including paintings from the DMA collection.  I have them make up stories, write poems and tell me about what they see.  We end the day with a “Pollock-ing” activity, which involves dipping marbles in paint and rolling them around in a baking tray lined with paper.  Then, the kids make their own Andy Warhol-inspired self portraits.  My sister takes black and white photographs of the students, and we give them highlighters to color in their portraits.

Shannon stands between the pillars of her two “home states” at the World War II Memorial in D.C.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Community Connection: Nasher Sculpture Center

This past weekend marked the kick-off of Art in October, a celebration of the Dallas Arts District that features a variety of performances, exhibitions, programs, and events throughout the month.  In honor of this celebration, I walked across the street to the Nasher Sculpture Center for a coffee break with Stephen Ross.  Stephen began working in Admissions at the Nasher months after it opened in 2003.  Since then, he has held the title of Education Coordinator, Assistant Curator of Education, and for the last two years, Curator of Education.  See if you can find Stephen in this picture (hint: you can often identify a museum educator by his/her all-black outfit).

Stephen Ross seen through Jaume Plensa’s Twenty-nine Palms, 2007

What sparked your interest in museum education?
I think you have two choices coming out of graduate school – stay in school and become a curator (even though you don’t know what that is) or get a job at a museum.  I like museum education because I get to work with the public.

What has been the most enjoyable, challenging, or surprising aspect of your work with the Nasher?

I really like our Education Department.  It is limited because of our small staff, which is a total of three people.  I work with two really good people, and together we reach a wide spectrum from young children to adults.  We do a lot – we reach different audiences with different types of learning – so we all get to do a variety of things.

If you could take home any work of art from the Nasher, what would you choose?

I would take home Alberto Giacometti’s Two Figurines (Deux figurines sur socles) because they’re wonderful and tiny.  I love their size and portability – each figurine is less than two inches tall.  Giacometti would carry them around in matchboxes and put up small “exhibitions” on café tables.  They are the smallest pieces in the Nasher collection.

Tell us about your relationship with the DMA.

I work with the Museum Forum for Teachers, a five-day summer program for teachers that occurs at the Nasher, the DMA, The Rachofsky House, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.  We also collaborate on the docent program, which is a big help.  A small museum like ours could never have its own docent program, and we are thankful that DMA docents also lead tours at the Nasher. 

I love the sense of collaboration, in general.  I feel I can pick up the phone and call anyone in the DMA Education department to talk about program ideas, ask questions, etc.

Describe your idea of a perfect day.

Reading Beckett.  Listening to the Rudy Van Gelder sound.

Check out the Nasher and other Arts District venues during Art in October.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Spotlight on Denise Ford, DMA Docent

Today is our first day of tours for the 2010-2011 school year, and we are excited to share our collections and our new exhibitions–Arts of Mexico and African Masks: The Art of Disguise–with teachers and students from across the Metroplex.  Our tour calendar is filling up quickly, so if you want to schedule a DMA visit for your students, fill out our Online Visit Request Form soon.

With the start of tours comes the return of our fabulous docents.  This year, we have 108 docents who will give tours to K-12 and Higher Education students, as well as to adults.  I thought I would give you a chance to get to know one of our brand new docents, Denise Ford.*  Denise joined the DMA docent program last year, and this is her first year as a full-time touring docent.  If you bring your students for a tour on a Tuesday afternoon, you just might have Denise as your guide!

Docent Denise Ford in front of Hans Hofmann's Red and Blue Harmony

How long have you been a DMA docent?
I have been a docent for one year.

Why did you become a docent?
I became a docent because of my interest in art, my desire to interact with other people (especially students), and my desire to give back to the Dallas community.

Tell me about your experience in the docent program.
In the short time that I have been a docent, I have learned so much about art and how history and culture are such vital parts of art and artists.  I have met all kinds of people from all walks of life.  I have enjoyed spending time in the Museum with students, many of whom are new to the Museum.  I particularly like to encourage the students to develop ideas about the objects they are looking at.

What is your favorite work of art in the DMA collection?
My favorite work of art in the DMA collection is The Eye by David Altmejd.  The Eye was an object all students loved to see and interpret.  I also enjoy the Reves Collection , especially touring students because it helps them understand art outside of the museum and in someone’s home!

Share your best tour experience.
I had many memorable experiences and am trying to keep a tour journal.  Two experiences stand out from this past year.  The first was a male student who was somewhat quiet and stayed a little distant from the rest of the class.  After fifteen minutes or so, he warmed up and said, ‘You have a nice smile.’  The second was a group who was interested, informed, and welcomed challenging ideas.  One girl in this group latched onto my arm about halfway through the tour and never left my side until it was time to board the bus.  When she left, she said, “Before I came today, I did not think I liked art and museums.  I thought it was boring.  But I loved this, and want to bring my mom back with me.”

Docent Denise Ford with a group of 4th graders

Denise also understands how important teachers are in the lives of their students.  She says: “Although I have never taught school, I really appreciate the teachers who bring their students to the Museum.  Teaching requires a gift of patience and a kind spirit.  It is apparent when there is positive interaction between teachers and their students.”  I couldn’t agree with her more!  We hope to see you and your students at the DMA this year.

Shannon Karol
Coordinator of Museum Visits

*If you would like to learn more about our docents, visit the DMA’s new blog Uncrated, which features an interview with docent Tom Matthews.

Looking Back and Thinking Ahead

It’s hard to believe that the 2009-2010 school year is already over.  We will have our last Museum visits and Go van Gogh trips tomorrow, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the highlights of the year with you.

Go van Gogh Classroom Outreach
Volunteers are at the core of our programs, and without their invaluable assistance, we would not be able to reach the number of students we do each year.  A great big thanks to:

  • all of our Dallas volunteers.  We visited 406 1st-6th grade classrooms in Dallas, seeing over 8,330 students.  
  •  all of our volunteers outside Dallas.  We presented a total of over 240 programs to 4,800 students in schools outside Dallas city limits.  These are especially impressive numbers as each and every program that takes place outside Dallas is scheduled, coordinated, taught, and otherwise made possible by volunteers. 

Go van Gogh volunteers work with local artist Ann Marie Newman

The year also brought new initiatives for the Go van Gogh program:

Go van Gogh volunteers work with local artist Ann Marie Newman

All in all, it was a great year.  Go van Gogh volunteers, we appreciate your hard work and dedication to bringing fun and meaningful art experiences to North Texas students.  Teachers, we thank you for bringing Go van Gogh into your classrooms.

Museum Visits

Our schedule has been jam-packed with Museum visits all year.  Thank you to the students and teachers who visited the Museum, and thank you to our docents who make all of these tours possible. 

Docent Denise Ford welcomes her group to the DMA.

We had many highlights during the year, including:

  • providing docent-guided and self-guided Museum visits for 51,821 K-12 and higher education students.
  • sharing several wonderful exhibitions with students.  We were able to make works of art come alive in All the World’s a Stage, and we transported students to 19th century Normandy in The Lens of Impressionism
  • continuing relationships with several school districts.  This was the third year of our partnership with Dallas ISD where every 4th grader comes to the Museum for a docent-guided visit.  We welcomed 11,535 DISD 4th graders for A Looking Journey tours this year, and we can’t wait to see DISD’s 4th graders again next year.

4th grade students examine the Pair of Lokapalas


So there you have it, the highlights of thirty-two weeks of programs for the 2009-2010 school year.  The 2010-2011 school year will be here before we know it, so we encourage you to start thinking about your DMA and Go van Gogh visits now.  Be on the lookout for our postcard this summer, reminding you to visit our Web site on August 1st to schedule your programs.  Have a wonderful summer!

Amy Copeland and Shannon Karol
Coordinators of Go van Gogh Outreach and Museum Visits

Mesquite Week Visits

For the past two weeks, we have been welcoming 5th graders from Mesquite ISD for docent-guided visits.  This isn’t a new program, though.  For the past twenty-five years, students from Mesquite ISD have been coming to the DMA for docent-guided visits of our collection.  When this partnership began in 1985, each 5th and 6th grade student received a tour that aligned with their classroom curriculum.  Over 2,100 Mesquite students toured the DMA that first year.  Since then, this partnership (and the district) have continued to grow.

Today, we see every 5th and 6th grade student, as well as every 7th and 8th grade art student, for a docent-guided visit that aligns with their curriculum.  For the 2009-2010 school year, that totals almost 6,800 students!  This partnership is affectionately known as Mesquite Week because in 1985 the visits did only last for one week.  It now takes five weeks for the Museum to be able to tour that many students. 

DMA Docent Susan Cuellar talks about The Icebergs with 5th graders from J.H. Florence Elementary

Mesquite ISD has a wonderful Fine Arts Coordinator, Debi Waltz, who makes these visits a success year after year.  Debi schedules each school’s visit, orders the buses, and works with us to decide which works of art students will see while they’re at the Museum.  She’s one of the most organized people I have ever met, and I don’t think Mesquite Week could happen without her. 

I recently learned that it was one of our docents, Susan Cuellar, who took on the task of coordinating Mesquite Week visits in 1985.  The district wanted students to have the same types of experiences with art that they were having with music, and they decided that they wanted their students to visit the DMA each year.  Susan wrote the tour outlines for that first year, and she continues to give Mesquite Week tours today.  She says that starting the Mesquite Week program is “one of the most exciting things I have ever done.”  We’re excited that this program is still going strong twenty-five years later.

Shannon Karol
Tour Coordinator

Get to Know a DMA Docent

If you have scheduled a docent-guided visit to the DMA, you already know how wonderful our docents are.  We have a corps of over one hundred volunteer docents who lead tours for K-12 and higher education students, as well as our adult visitors.  I recently talked with Lisa Jacquemetton to learn more about her experience as a DMA docent.


Docent Lisa Jacquemetton with Franz Kline's Slate Cross

How long have you been a DMA docent?
I am in the middle of my third year.

Why did you become a docent?
I had just finished my Masters in Liberal Arts at SMU and I loved that but I didn’t really want to take my formal education any further.  One of my friends was a docent, and she suggested that I contact Molly .  I became a docent primarily for the art history education, or so I thought.

Tell me about your experience in the docent program.
I’ve just loved it.  I have made all kinds of new friends with similar interests—fellow docents, educators, and even getting to know the curators has been fun.  I have learned much more than art history.  I’ve learned how to teach, I’ve learned a lot about comparative religion, science, world history– so much more than art history.  I’ve learned that I really love being around kids.  Who knew?

So what makes you love being around kids?
I think it’s seeing their reaction.  When you have a kid really get into a work of art, you see their faces light up, or at the end of the tour when they saw “aw, are we done” and you know that they want to keep going—it’s a high.

What is your favorite work of art in the DMA collection?
That’s like asking me what my favorite color is.  I’m partial to contemporary art and Abstract Expressionism.  My favorite, but it was just taken down, was The Eye by David Altmejd.  I also love Franz Kline’s Slate Cross—so dramatic, so powerful, and for me, so emotional.  I tend to react to art on an emotional level first, and that’s one of those pieces that makes me swoon.

Share your best tour experience.
The best tour experience I had was an Arts of the Americas tour last year.  First we headed to the elevators to go up to the 4th floor, and the reaction of these kids—they were so into it.  We went through the Ancient American galleries, looking at the Inca tunic first.  Then we looked at Xipe Totec, and I gave them the gory details, which they loved.  And then we ended at the Olafur Eliasson exhibition which was a huge hit. We ended up in the Room for One Color, and I gave them pieces of paper inside so they could decide what color it was.  One boy in my group was in a wheelchair and did not have fully formed foot, so he took off his sock and held his piece of paper between his toes.  (He wasn’t able to use his hands.)  When we came out, he was so into the whole experience.  And here’s the best part—the kids asked me for my autograph and I wrote it on their little pieces of colored paper.  I felt like a rock star.  It was the first and only time I’ve been asked for my autograph.  I practically flew home off my own energy that day.  When the kids react like that, that’s the best.

Shannon Karol
Tour Coordinator

Welcome Back, Students!

This past Tuesday, September 22nd, was our first day of school tours for the 2009-2010 school year.  I always look forward to the first day of tours—it’s my version of the first day of school.  Our first visitors were 4th graders from McKinney ISD, and they braved the rain and cooler temperatures to visit the DMA for an A Looking Journey tour.

Students waiting to enter the DMA

Students waiting to enter the DMA

 Our A Looking Journey tour allows students to travel the world without ever leaving the Dallas Museum of Art.  The teacher who scheduled this tour requested that all students see Frederic Edwin Church’s The Icebergs and Vincent van Gogh’s Sheaves of Wheat, two stars of our American and European collections respectively.  I also overheard one student asking her docent if they would have a chance to see the mummy.  She was excited to be at the Museum, and the mummy was at the top of her list of things to see while she was here.* 

It’s also great to have our docents back at the Museum, ready to tour.  I was talking with one of our docents on Tuesday who was giving her first tour after having been away last year.  She really missed being with students in the galleries, and couldn’t wait to take those 4th graders on their Looking Journey.  I’m giving an A Looking Journey tour myself today, and I am looking forward to hearing what insights my 4th graders will bring to our tour.  I always learn something new from students in the galleries, and that is why I love my job so much!  And yes, I will be including the mummy on my tour…

 Shannon Karol                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Tour Coordinator

*The mummy is on loan and currently on view in Crossroads: Where Cultures Connect.  Lent by Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.

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