Posts Tagged 'fun'

A Fairly Good Time

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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

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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

DIY Shaving Cream Art

If you asked me what the most popular art supply was in camp this summer, my answer wouldn’t be paint. It wouldn’t be clay, it wouldn’t be paper – it wouldn’t even be hot glue. It would be…

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shaving cream!

You read that correctly. Not just one but SIX of our summer camps had a day when they made masterpieces using shaving cream. Our teachers this year were certainly inspired by this unconventional material! What other material could you use to marble paper, mix your own textured paint, make the freshest smelling foam dough, AND clean everything up afterwards?

As for what the campers thought, let me offer this quote overheard in carpool:

“Mom, we made art out of SHAVING CREAM today!!!” (Extra exclamation marks included.)

What you need:

  • A can of foaming shaving cream. I used Barbasol; shaving cream that comes out as a gel won’t work here!
  • A cookie sheet, which you’ll fill with a layer of shaving cream.
  • Various colors of paint. Nearly anything will do: tempera, acrylic, liquid watercolor, and food coloring are just a few ideas.
  • Craft sticks.
  • A ruler.
  • Heavyweight paper. You need something like watercolor paper or thick cardstock – thinner paper will warp, dissolve, and tear from all the moisture in the shaving cream.

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When coming up with the plan for my print, I looked to a piece of art that’s inspired cookie decorating (twice!) and marshmallow peep art made by DMA staffers: Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler) by Lynda Benglis. The twisty poured latex shapes were fun to recreate by swirling paint through the shaving cream.

You can see how I made my print in the slideshow below:

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Once you’ve scraped the foam off your print, lay it flat so it can dry. Your paper may start to curl up at the corners, but that’s not anything a little time under a heavy book can’t fix. You can continue to make prints using the remaining shaving cream in your cookie sheet with the paint already there or by adding more paint and swirling with a craft stick again.

When you’re all done, admire your finished prints as they are or turn them into thank you cards, backgrounds for imaginative drawings, or anything else you can think of!

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The neat part about this technique is that it can be used on more than just paper. Try using acrylic or fabric paint to print cool rainbow bandanas. Even food coloring can be used to dye Easter eggs! For more fun, check out these other shaving cream ideas:

What crazy craft can you come up with?

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

 

UA Maker Club

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What do you get when you put art and technology together? The UA Maker Club! A mash up between led workshop and open studio, the Maker Club combines traditional art supplies with tech-based materials and asks participants to explore the resulting possibilities. It’s a place for people to experiment, make mistakes, and have fun through tinkering. The Maker Club is also a place where collaboration rules: everyone can share their knowledge and learn from each other–students and staff alike! Because we (the staff) are not experts ourselves, it’s a great opportunity for us all to exchange ideas and gain new skills.

For our very first meet up last Thursday, students explored simple circuits through the use of mini LEDs. Through a series of challenges, teens learned how to light up their LEDs using a variety of conductive materials: copper tape, wire, foil, graphite, and conductive tape. They then had to come up with various ways of making their lights turn on and off by constructing a switch. Finally, they were to create a work of art that incorporated LEDs in some way. We had a great group of teens with a wide range of interests–art, science, even robotics. As you can see, all of the creations were unique and varied:

Take two: Jared made this incredible switch for his LED after shorting out his first one 🙂

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A shot of Pamela’s elaborately constructed diorama–in progress

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A second shot showing her LEDs

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Holy Light-Brite, Batman! Rosa’s fantastic globe

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Preparing to add some twinkling lights to Lugosi’s sculpture

The UA Maker Club meets every month and is open to anyone between the ages of 13-19. No prior experience is necessary and all materials are provided. Drop in to this month’s workshop on November 21 to make glow-in-the-dark clothing and accessories using electroluminescent wire and screen printing ink!

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JC Bigornia
C3 Program Coordinator

What Does Fun Look Like at the DMA?

I have written posts in the past about our goals for docent-guided tours at the DMA. Our current goal statement was written five years ago, and I think it’s in need of a few updates. It states that we want students to feel comfortable at the Museum, as well as to begin to see their world in a fresh way. What does that mean, and how can we measure whether that happens on our tours?

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Over the summer, I met with small groups of docents to begin redefining our goal for tours. These docents were asked “What are your motivations and desires when planning a tour for the DMA’s visitors?” Their answers were thoughtful and really demonstrate their passion for the work that they do at the DMA.

  • My hope is that they will learn how to “look” in a museum setting and that they will want to return or visit other museums.
  • My biggest goal is to get the students to want to come back and to leave with vivid memories of what they saw.
  • My biggest hope is that even one child sees an object that excites them and makes them want to see more.
  • I want them to leave with more questions than they had when they came in so that they will be eager to come back and enjoy what this museum has to offer.
  • I want the students to feel comfortable, be inspired and amazed, learn a few things, and have fun!
  • My motivation is to share objects that are special to me so that I can bring genuine excitement to them.

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I plugged the docents’ responses into Wordle in order to easily see what words popped up repeatedly. In a word cloud, the size of a word corresponds with the number of times it was entered into Wordle. From this word cloud, it’s obvious that a “fun experience” is the top motivation for our docents when planning tours.

Docent Goal Word Cloud

As a group, the docents and I are now trying to unpack the word “fun.” Just what does a fun experience at the DMA look like? How do we know that students are having fun in our galleries? Do sketching and inventing stories about a work of art lead to a fun experience? Is laughter our best indicator that students are enjoying their tour? These are just some of the questions that we are pondering as we begin our new training year.

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These kiddos certainly appear to be having fun on their tour

Now it’s your turn to weigh in. I would love to have your insight as we move forward with revising our goal for docent-guided tours. How do you know that your students (or children) are having fun at the DMA? What have been some of their favorite experiences here? If you’re a teacher, I am also curious to know what your motivations are when you schedule a field trip to the DMA. It will be interesting to see how your motivations overlap with those of our docents.

Please add your comments below or feel free to email me. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on having fun at the DMA!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs


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