Posts Tagged 'Interview'

The Secret Lives of Color

In her newest book, The Secret Lives of Color, author Kassia St. Clair reveals the hidden histories of 75 colors that shaped everything from art and fashion to medicine, politics, commerce, and religion.

This Friday at 7:00 p.m., the author will join us for a Late Night talk about her book, where she will discuss what inspired it, how she conducted her research, and a few favorite hues—from the ultra-pricey ultramarine to the morbid mummy brown. Here’s a sneak peek.

What inspired you to write The Secret Lives of Color

Several things honestly. It definitely helped that my mother was a florist, so growing up I was always seeing colors being put together creatively and was encouraged to do likewise. Academically, I became interested in color when I studied at university. I wrote my dissertations on 18th-century fashion, which involved a lot of research into the shades that were fashionable at the time: it fascinated me that they had changed so much. Some of the combinations they loved back then would make your eyes water today! I also loved researching the names or trying to figure out what a once-fashionable tone might have looked like, since often only written descriptions would survive.

How did you decide which colors made the cut? Is there one that you would have liked to include but didn’t?

When I pitched the book, I had a whole list of shades, dyes, and pigments that would go into each chapter, and although many of those did make it into the final book, many others did not and many more were added. The trick was to get exactly the right combination of story and variety. It would have been boring to have five yellows one after the other that all dated from a similar period and were used in near-identical ways. This is something that you very quickly discover when writing but which might not be obvious in the planning stage! There are certainly colors that it would have been wonderful to include full entries for, and many of these I was able to put into the glossary at the back.

In your opinion, what is the most underrated color and why?

I think black is a hugely underrated color. For a start it’s an absolutely vast category: we’re used to giving lots of different names to various whites—cream, ivory, beige, canvas, and so on—but with black it all gets collapsed in together, with very little regard for how different two shades might be from one another. I loved discovering in the course of writing this chapter that there were once two words for black: one for the glossy, luxurious kinds and another for the matte, light-sucking variety. And then again, black is often thought of as scary, unimaginative, or negative, when in fact shade and darkness can be restful, soothing, and cool.

Did the research for this book take you down any unexpected rabbit holes?

Yes, many! (See my answer above for just one example). But that’s why I love studying and writing about color; it’s never boring and you can’t help but be dragged in myriad directions. I also love how people initially think it’s a shallow, niche topic, but then the moment they start discussing it they soon realize just how vast and deep it truly is. Everyone has an opinion or a story or a fact that they want to share; it’s inclusive and I love hearing from people about the colors I’ve missed or anecdotes about festivals, customs, songs, and fashions that I might not know about.

What was one section you really enjoyed writing and why?

I love a challenge, so writing the introduction, although I always find it the hardest bit, is probably also the most rewarding. The introduction has to set the tone. It also has to cover a lot of ground and make sure everyone is carried along. Yes, you might be explaining some tricky physics (I speak as someone who gave up the sciences relatively early to concentrate on the arts), but that is no excuse for not making sure both that you understand it and that you’re making it interesting and palatable for your reader. When you’re writing, it’s my belief that you should treat your reader like an honored guest: it’s not good manners to bore on about something you enjoy but they might not. I try to be as inclusive and entertaining as possible.

If you had a signature color of nail polish what would you name it?

Because I’m going through a green phase and because it’s currently incredibly hot and parched in London so that everything is turning brown and crisp, maybe a really refreshing, cooling green-blue—something that’s a little mid-century but has just a hint of sheen: “Verdant Lagoon.”

Join us this Friday for Late Nights at the Dallas Museum of Art to hear more from Kassia St. Clair.

Jessie Carrillo is Manager of Adult Programs at the DMA.

Interviews with Young Masters

It isn’t every day that we’re able to peek into the minds behind the artworks on view at the DMA. Earlier this month, KERA announcer Shelley Kenneavy interviewed some of the teens whose work is currently on display in the concourse as part of the 2016 Young Masters exhibition. The students gave us a bit of insight into their sources of inspiration—ranging from the Star Wars musical score to insecurities about personal appearances—and shared their hopes as future artists, engineers, art historians, and musicians.

This year’s exhibition features sixty works selected from 858 submissions by AP Fine Arts students from ten local area high schools. Sponsored by the O’Donnell Foundation and on view through April 17, the exhibit includes forty-nine 2D and 3D works of art created by AP Studio Art students, five essays analyzing works of art in the DMA’s permanent collections by AP Art History students, and six original compositions by AP Music Theory students. The essays and compositions can be heard through the DMA’s mobile site here.

One of this year’s participating students is Allison Li, whose piece is titled Passing Tranquility. I first met Allison when she began volunteering at the Center for Creative Connections earlier this year, and was thrilled to see her digital photography installed as part of the Young Masters exhibition. To learn a bit more about the exhibition from the student’s perspective, I asked Allison a few questions about her influences, challenges, and takeaways as a 2016 Young Master.


Allison Li, Passing Tranquility, Coppell High School

Who are some of the artists you admire? What draws you to their work?

I admire many artists, some include Monet, Nguan, Sachin Teng, and many more. Many of the artists I like, I found online through their various social media accounts. I’m mainly drawn to artist’s works because of the color they use in their pieces, especially Monet and Nguan; I really like the pastel and light colors they use for their pieces. Also, the subject matter of what artists portray in their pieces is a big factor.

How would you describe your creative process? What is most challenging about creating work? What is most rewarding? 

My creative process usually starts with a vague idea or concept in which I try to define it more in detail in my own head before I put anything on paper. Drawing ideas or sketches sometimes helps me better visualize what I want in a piece. After coming up with an idea, I will usually figure out what materials I need and how I want to create the artwork. I think the most challenging and most important part of creating art is coming up with the idea. It usually takes me a very long time to come up with ideas that I like and exactly how I want to execute the idea. I think the most rewarding part of this process is either having an idea you feel confident in or the final piece; both feel rewarding depending on the outcome.

What motivated you to submit your artwork for consideration in the Young Masters exhibition?

My art teacher at school informed us of this opportunity and gave us class time to create a piece to submit to the exhibition. My mom also really encouraged me to pursue my passion for art and thought it would be great and an honor if I was in the Young Masters exhibition.

Your work in the exhibition, Passing Tranquility, invites viewers to consider moments of peace in otherwise hectic environments. Where do you find tranquility in today’s fast-paced atmosphere?

I find the most peace when I am at home and don’t have homework to do. Those times are the most relaxing as I don’t have any lingering tasks that need to be done right away, and instead I get to enjoy my free time.


How does participating in Young Masters change the way you approach other art exhibitions as a visitor?

After going to the DMA and seeing my artwork hung up on the Museum’s walls with other great pieces, I felt very humbled and amazed that my piece was up there. Now seeing other artworks in the Museum makes me have much more respect for all the artists that are in museums.


Do you see yourself continuing to make artwork like Passing Tranquility in the future?

I am actually making similar pieces to Passing Tranquility as it is part of my concentration that I am doing for my AP 2D Design class right now. This piece was actually the first piece in a series of twelve works that I am creating for my portfolio.

What advice do you have for other young artists?

I think that the best thing to do as a young artist is to keep practicing and try not to get too discouraged if things don’t always go as planned. I believe practicing will definitely pay off in the future and seeing the improvement you have made over the years will be very rewarding. I also think that seeing other artists and artwork besides your own is important; I look at many artworks online created by various artists that post their work on social media, such as Instagram or Twitter.

If you’re curious about what some of the other Young Masters have to say about their experience, don’t miss the second round of interviews with the teens at the upcoming Late Night on April 15. For a blast from the past, check out the video recordings of previous Young Masters interviews.

We can’t wait to see what Allison and the other Young Masters create next! Cast your ballot in the People’s Choice Award at the April Late Night to vote for your favorite studio art, art history, and music theory work in the Young Masters exhibition.

Paulina Lopez
McDermott Graduate Intern for Visitor Engagement

Docent Spotlight: They're Cousins…

It has been a while since we have featured an interview with one of our docents on the Educator Blog.  Today, I’m turning the spotlight on not one, but three of our fabulous docents.  Why three docents?  Because they’re cousins (I have the Patty Duke Show theme song running through my head as I write this) who have turned the DMA docent program into a family affair.

Meet Genie Bentley, Linda Rayes, and Harriet Stoneham.  Genie and Linda have been docents for many years, but Harriet is a member of our New Docent class this year.  Below, they share their thoughts and memories of being a DMA docent.

Genie Bentley, Harriet Stoneham, and Linda Rayes--DMA Docents and Cousins

How long have you been a DMA docent?
Genie: I have been a docent since Fall 1988 (We trained for two years at that point).
Linda: I have been leading school tours for seventeen years.
Harriet: I am a docent-in-training.

Why did you become a docent?
Genie: My sons were leaving the nest and I wanted to do something that was really hard–I found it!
Linda: A friend and former docent suggested that I might enjoy the program.
Harriet: I have wanted to become a docent for a very long time and finally gave myself permission to apply.

Tell me about your experience in the docent program.
Genie: It is my favorite activity with my favorite people–the best part of my life.
Linda: Most of my tours have been some of the most fun and rewarding hours of my life.  Interacting with young students often challenges me to come up with analogies from pop culture to help them relate to unfamiliar objects.  I love hearing about the children’s lives, their families, and even their pets!  Young viewers are always more uninhibited, and therefore, more fun to interact with.
Harriet: I have thoroughly enjoyed every training session thus far.  The lectures are wonderful and getting to meet so many people that share my interest in art has been very satisfying.

What is your favorite work of art in the DMA collection?
Genie: My favorite work of art is the one that I am talking about on a tour.  I could not limit myself to one piece–I have learned to LOVE so many cultures and styles.
Linda: It’s a toss up between the Lokapalas and the Vlaminck in the Reves collection.
Harriet: I love learning about all the art that I have been exposed to thus far.

Share your best tour experience.
Genie: The best tours are ones that kids exclaim “Is it already over? I thought this would be boring, but it was fun.”
Linda: That would be the next tour!
Harriet: I have loved observing both Genie’s and Linda’s tours.  I am so impressed with the number of docents who have been involved with the program for many, many years. [Author’s note: Harriet has not yet given a tour, but has observed many A Looking Journey tours as part of her training.]

Docents Genie Bentley (in white) and Linda Rayes (holding a doll) even went to school together when they were younger

Genie, Linda, and Harriet have all said that being a part of the docent program is one of their favorite activities, and reading their responses affirms their passion for art and their commitment to the DMA and our docent program.*  I feel very fortunate that I know these three docents, and hopefully you have had the pleasure of spending time with them in the galleries.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

*If you have a passion for art and would like to learn more about volunteering at the DMA, visit our Web site.

Staff Spotlight: Loryn Leonard

Last month, I introduced you to Loryn Leonard through a Friday Photo Post.  Today, Loryn will introduce herself in more detail.  You’ll have a chance to correspond with Loryn beginning on August 1st, when we start taking reservations for Museum visits for the 2011-2012 school year.

Name and Title: Loryn Leonard, Coordinator of Museum Visits

Years employed at the Dallas Museum of Art: Zero – this is my first month at the Museum!

Describe your job here at the Museum: I consider myself as the tour match-maker.  I work directly with educators to schedule visits and provide logistic to prepare for their tours.  Correspondingly, I manage docent availability and assign docents to scheduled tours.

What part of your new job are you most looking forward to doing? Definitely giving tours.  I enjoy interacting with students and learning new perspectives about works of art.

What is a challenge you face in your job? Organizing.  It can be a bit of a challenge to keep everyone up-to-date with tour information and making sure docents are lined up so everyone has a wonderful experience at the Museum.

One of Loryn's metal artworks

How did you decide you wanted to work in a museum? Actually, it was this Museum.  Growing up in Waxahachie and going to college in Denton, the Dallas Museum of Art was an invaluable resource for research and inspiration.

If you weren’t working in a museum, what is something else you would be doing? Even though this is my dream job, I think I would go back to my metalsmithing roots and be a full-time artist.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Interview with Curator Heather MacDonald

One of our outstanding curators here at the Dallas Museum of Art, Dr. Heather MacDonald, graciously took time out of her busy schedule to answer questions related to her job at the Museum. Continue reading for more information about Heather’s job and the exciting exhibitions that she is working on at the DMA. To learn more about Heather’s projects at the DMA, please click on the following link: ‘The Year of Heather’: Curating at the Dallas Museum of Art

Name and Title: Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art

Years Employed at the Dallas Museum of Art: 4 1/2

Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of Eurpean Art

Describe your job here at the Museum: I work with the collection of European painting, sculpture, and works on paper (prints, drawings, and photographs) from the 15th century to 1945. Together with the Senior Curator of European and American Art, Olivier Meslay, I look after the permanent collection galleries as well as organizing temporary exhibitions. My job involves a lot of research and writing, but also collaboration with other departments in the museum on teaching and interpretation, managing multi-year projects, and on caring for the works of art. I travel a lot to see works of art, meet with colleagues, attend art fairs and professional conferences, and see important exhibitions. Being a curator is also being a teacher: leading tours, giving lectures, and training the docents who will help communicate your research and ideas to a wider public. You have to be as comfortable at the lecture podium as in the library or gallery.

What is the favorite part of your job?  I think that for most curators the most enjoyable part of the job is installing works of art in the galleries, whether it’s the permanent collection or a special exhibition. It’s the fruition of many months, sometimes years, of planning, and a moment to think in very specific, physical terms about the encounter between a work of art and the viewer. There is a real magic to seeing paintings come out of their travel crates and go on the wall of a gallery that has been designed just for them. You have to cross your fingers that everything works the way you planned, and it is a great feeling when it’s even better than you could have imagined.

What is a challenge you face in your job? It can be a real challenge to find time for the most important parts of my work (research, thought, and writing) with the constant demands of email and meetings that consume so much of the working day. Understanding and interpreting works of art is a time-consuming activity, and a lot of that slow-paced and intensive work inevitably has to happen at night or on weekends, away from the office.

How did you decide you wanted to work in a museum?  I thought I wanted to teach art history at the university level, but part way through graduate school I realized that career was not for me. Having at that point almost completed my PhD in art history, I thought I might as well try a museum job before leaving the field entirely, and I found the work much more engaging and rewarding. I feel very lucky that I was able to find this other career in my discipline.

If you weren’t working here at the Museum, what is something else you would be doing?  Well, I have a lot of fantasy careers, of course, but I think most likely working in editing or publishing. I love books and the written word. I’m lucky that part of being a curator is working on the creation of exhibition and collection catalogues, which allows me to be involved with publishing in that way.

What are some upcoming exhibitions that will be at the Museum over the summer?  This summer my exhibition Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea will be on view at the Museum. It features more than 60 paintings, photographs, drawings, and prints made between 1850 and today describing the landscape and human experience of the coast. We’re trying something new by presenting this exhibition with a sound installation that was created by faculty and graduate students from the University of Texas at Dallas.  I’m really looking forward to hearing how people respond to this sound environment. It’s a new way of experiencing an exhibition, and I hope it will encourage people to look more slowly at the works of art and think about them in new ways.

The May 21 Late Night will focus on the closing of the exhibition The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874 which was curated for the DMA by Heather. Visit the Web site for more information about this program.

Amy Wolf
Teaching Programs Coordinator

Interview with Stacey Lizotte, Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services

I recently had an opportunity to interview one of my Education staff colleagues. Stacey Lizotte. She answered questions related to her job and shares information about upcoming public programs.

Name and Title: Stacey Lizotte, Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services

Years Employed at the Dallas Museum of Art: 5

Describe your job here at the Museum: I oversee and help create the adult programming offered at the Museum including Late Nights, Thursday Night Live, lectures, gallery programs, concerts, and programs for adults offered in partnership with other community organizations. I also work with our Multimedia staff to make sure any programs requiring technical support go off without a hitch.

What is your favorite part of your job? Watching visitors of all ages on Late Nights, when Museums are normally not open, talking with each other, exploring the galleries, watching a performance in front of a work of art, and overall having FUN in a museum. Another part of my job I enjoy is stepping away from my desk, leaving the office areas behind, to stroll through the galleries. You can’t beat taking a break with works of art for company.

What is a challenge you face in your job? Continually making our reoccurring programs fresh and new for our visitors. For instance there are eleven Late Nights a year, and we see a lot of repeat visitors. We want to make sure that each time our visitors are here they have a new and exciting experience.

How did you decide you wanted to work in a Museum? When I was in high school my art teacher, Mrs. Dunn, took us on a field trip to an art museum. As we were talking about a work of art, she started to tap dance and proclaimed that art was so wonderful it made her want to dance. I realized then that museums were magic places. It was not until I was looking into graduate schools and talking with a professor at UNT about their Museum Certificate program within their Art Education program that I realized I could actually have a job at a museum.

If you weren’t working here at the Dallas Museum of Art, what is something else you would be doing? I would be working with animals. Growing up on the East Coast, there was a time I seriously thought of becoming a marine biologist. I also have a degree in photography, so if I were staying within the art field I would be photographer. Or maybe some combination of the two. Here are two photos I took at the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium:  

What are some highlights for Public Programs this spring? This spring we are offering a lot of interesting programs celebrating our new exhibition The Lens of Impressionism. There are several lectures exploring photography including a lecture with Dr. Terry Barrett on April 24. On selected Thursday evenings you can take a tour of the exhibition and then have drinks in our outdoor courtyard while listening to local musicians perform French music. Visit the web site to see the complete program guide.    

We are also very excited about our April 16 Late Night. We are celebrating our visitors with a true iMuseum experience. It will be a night where you can interact with performers, create your own videos, respond to works of art in video confessionals, go on Twitter treasure hunts, share your own photos of the Museum, and more. Check out our web site for a full schedule of events.  

Amy Wolf
Teaching Programs 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


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