Posts Tagged 'gallery activities'

Communication Through Portraiture

One of the best things about working in the Center for Creative Connections is getting to see all the hard work of redesigning the spaces come to life. Over the last few weeks, staff and visitors alike have watched some new faces pop up on our walls in the front gallery.

 

Today, technology makes it easy to snap hundreds of photos of ourselves on a front facing camera phone. But for centuries, portraiture has played an important role in how we study and interpret subjects through aspects like environments, surrounding props, clothing and even color and lighting. All of these things are visual clues shown to us by the artists to communicate an underlying narrative about the subject. Even the way an artist chooses to capture their sitter can reflect on their relationship with them. Observing Chuck Close’s “Phil/Fingerprint” from a distance, you might not realize that Close used his own fingerprints to create an intimate portrait of his close friend, composer Phillip Glass.

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Chuck Close, ‘Phil/Fingerprint’, 1981, Lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon Fund

After viewing and reading more about all the artists and subjects that fill the gallery, we’re inviting visitors to put their own methods to the test when capturing a subject. We’ve been watching over the last few weeks how visitors have excitedly sat at one of our tables in the gallery to sketch themselves or a friend…

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…or at the C3 Photo Studio to find the right pose for their own compelling portrait.

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Strike a pose when you stop by C3 on your next visit!

Kerry Butcher
Center for Creative Connections Coordinator

Try This: Drawers and Describers

It’s spring time, which means that the Learning Lab is back in session. The Dallas Museum of Art has partnered with Booker T. Washington HSVPA since 2011, providing an ‘ideas class’ for junior and senior year students. This year, students are working on an arsenal of professional writing to grow their careers as artists. By the end of the semester, students will have their first artist statements, resumes, personal essays, and curated portfolios ready to submit to colleges and opportunities beyond high school.

For people who interact with the world primarily through visual means, expressing yourself through words is easier said than done. We’ve taken advantage of the Learning Lab’s time in the Museum to get them thinking and verbalizing their thoughts about art in nontraditional ways. However, these activities aren’t just for artists—anyone can use them in the galleries! Here’s a game for you to try next time you visit the DMA.
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This gallery game is a favorite here at the Museum! All you need is paper, a pencil, a friend, and your vocabulary to get started. Before walking into a gallery, choose which person will be the drawer, and which person will be the describer. dd2
The describer will choose a work of art in the gallery to describe, while the drawer, back turned toward the artwork, illustrates their partner’s description. The describer should be as specific as possible! Think about what you’re seeing: is it a portrait or a landscape? A bed or a chair? Is the tree at the top or the bottom of the painting?
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Once the describer is finished, the drawer will turn around to compare their drawing to the real work of art. This activity often has funny results, but it also tests your powers of interpretation! As a describer, how well were you able to describe the work of art in front of you? Is there anything you missed or something you could have described in different terms?dd4

As the drawer, what kind of information would you need to more accurately represent the work of art described to you? Did you need information about expression, location, or pose? Sharing feedback with each other expands your art vocabulary and your visual literacy. For both artists and art appreciators, this is a great exercise in expanding your visual literacy! Check out some more examples below:

And don’t miss student work from Booker T. Washington and other DFW High Schools at Young Masters, open through April 16.

Jessica Thompson
Manager of Teen Programs

New on the Bookshelves

This week’s rainy weather is the “perfect storm” to send me to my sofa snuggled up with a stack of good books. I’m a self-proclaimed bookworm, and have blogged before {here and here} about how learning to read is similar to learning to look at art. Both involve making meaning through understanding context as well as visual cues, and the desire to communicate ideas. For many young children, picture books are their first introduction to art and illustration, and thus one of my favorite teaching tools. Here is my latest round-up of books to tuck in your bag on your next visit to the Museum. Or, simply enjoy them at home!

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Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Green is exactly what the title proclaims it to be—a beautiful, engaging concept book about the color green. Each two-page spread features a different type of green with a clever cut-out that reveals a peek into the next page. There’s “lime green,” “forest green,” “jungle green,” and “glow green,” to name a few. I used this book with preschoolers to talk about how there’s not just one green, but many, and the illustrations and simple text offered a concrete way for the kids to think of how to describe different shades of a single color by connecting to real-world objects.

  • Gallery connection: Read Green in the American painting and sculpture galleries on Level 4 and go on a scavenger hunt to see how many different types of green you can discover in the art.

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Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale

For every young block-loving builder out there, this book is a dream come true! Illustrations of busy children building structures out of blocks, constructing houses out of playing cards, and finagling a fort out of blankets and pillows are paired with photographs of actual buildings that closely resemble the children’s creations. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum, Tokyo’s Yoyogi National Stadium, and Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim are just a few of the architectural marvels highlighted. Concrete poems for each structure mimic the shapes of the buildings and show-off the beauty language can create.

  • Gallery connection: Bring Dreaming Up and a sketch pad along for a visit to the Formed/Unformed exhibit. Read the book, look at the wonderful variety of chairs on display, and then draw your own design for a new chair!

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Mice by Rose Fyleman, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Two sneaky mice are out in the night getting into all kinds of things! But these “mice are nice,” and their adventures nibbling on treats, climbing into things, and even making art are sure to delight. Ehlert’s signature collage illustration style is built around the use of several simple shapes—triangles, circles, and rectangles and begs to be imitated by young artists.

  • Gallery connection: Use Mice as your artistic inspiration and make your own collage characters at the art-making space in the Center for Creative Connections. We provide the paper, tape, and pencils—you provide the imagination!

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Chuck Close: Face Book by Chuck Close

What if you could sit down one afternoon with artist Chuck Close and just ask him anything you wanted to? That scenario actually happened for a group of fifth graders in Brooklyn. Armed with questions like “What made you start to draw?” and “Why are your paintings so big?,” these children helped start the conversation that became the basis for this autobiography. A flip-book feature allows readers to mix and match foreheads, eyes/nose, and chins from several of Close’s own self-portraits and offers an up-close look at the small squares that compose each work of art—squares of paint, fingerprints, and leftover bits of paper.

  • Gallery connection: The DMA’s piece by Chuck Close isn’t currently on view, but you can discover another artist’s fingerprints hiding in the art by exploring the installations by Karla Black. Or, spend some time in our European galleries sketching the faces you find in the portraits on display.

Happy reading!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs


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