Posts Tagged 'literature'

Join the Club! A Moveable Feast Series Preview

Today is National Read a Book Day! Have you been wanting to join a book club or wishing someone would curate a list of “must reads” for you? This month the DMA’s acclaimed literary series, Arts & Letters Live, kicks off a new initiative intended to build community through conversation, offering you another opportunity to take a deeper dive into books featured in the series. A Moveable Feast Book Club will feature four books over the next three months, allowing you to select any (or all) you would like to attend. We hope that by reading and sharing insights together a week or so before hearing the author speak, your experience will be richer and even more meaningful. Book Club events will take place in the DMA’s Founders Room, where participants can enjoy lunch while engaging in conversation with fellow bibliophiles.

The series kicks off on September 13 with Dr. Jaina Sanga, author and fellow of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, leading a conversation about Texas Literary Hall of Fame author Sarah Bird’s tenth novel. Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is a historical novel depicting the story of slave-turned-soldier Cathy Williams, who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Civil War with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

Photo credit: Sarah Wilson

On October 9, Dr. Jaina Sanga will lead a discussion of MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing,a road novel through Mississippi’s past and present that explores the bonds of a family tested by racism and poverty. Ward became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction, joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike.

Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

Debut novelist Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A Place for Us will be the topic of discussion on October 23, again led by Dr. Jaina Sanga. The first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, A Place for Us is a deeply moving and resonant story of love, identity, and belonging, and a powerful portrait of what it means to be a Muslim American family today. Reviewers have described it as “absolutely gorgeous” and “stunning.” 

Photo credit: Gregg Richards

The final gathering, on November 20, will feature a discussion of Jill Lepore’s These Truths: A History of the United States, moderated by Dr. Andrew R. Graybill, professor and chair in the department of history at Southern Methodist University, and co-director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies. History buffs will have an opportunity to dissect award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore’s magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, and the beauty and tragedy of American history.

Photo credit: Dari Pillsbury

Michelle Witcher is the Program Manager for Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

Art of the Written Word

If I had to name some things that I could not live without, books and art would be first on that list (along with tea, my family, and my cat, of course). These passions led to this blog post, which combines the two! During my time at the DMA, I constantly find similarities or connections between some of the works in the collection and books that I have read, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of my favorites!

Standing Female Figure & The Poisonwood Bible

Those who enjoy our expansive collection of African art should consider reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. The novel tells the story of the Prices, a missionary family who move to the Belgian Congo in 1954. The family is made up of Nathan, a Baptist missionary, his wife Orleanna, and their five daughters. Narrated in turns by each of the five women, The Poisonwood Bible tells of their initial reaction to the Congolese villagers to their acclimation over the following years. The Standing Female Figure is from the same region where the fictional Price family settled: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (known to the Price family in 1954 as the Belgian Congo). This piece depicts a coming-of-age ritual called butanda: this is represented by the arranged hair, the scarification, and beaded accessories. While this type of ritual does not occur in Kingsolver’s novel, the coming-of-age that we see in the statue is paralleled with the family’s acclimation to their life in Africa.

Lobster Pick & The Beautiful and the Damned

Those who enjoy the fancifulness and luxury of our American silver collection should turn to F. Scott Fitzgerald for their next novel. While many know Fitzgerald as the author of The Great Gatsby, his other novels should not be overlooked. I recommend The Beautiful and the Damned, which tells the story of Anthony Patch, a wealthy socialite living in New York in the 1910’s. The novel reflects a time of money and decadence, a period referenced with this lobster pick, part of our stunning silver collection.

Drouth Stricken Area & The Grapes of Wrath

What do author John Steinbeck and artist Alexander Hogue have in common? Both used their chosen profession to highlight the devastation caused by the Dust Bowl. Many people have heard of The Grapes of Wrath, a story of sharecroppers forced to move from their Oklahoma home due to the economic challenges that plagued the American Midwest in the 1930’s. Hogue tackles the same subject in his painting, Drouth Stricken Area, which almost reads as the aftermath of Steinbeck’s novel. Instead of depicting one family’s journey, Hogue’s painting shows a homestead that has been overtaken by dust and deserted by its owners.

Mountains Near Taos & Bless Me, Ultima

In Mountains Near Taos, artist Ernest Blumenschein offers the viewer a panoramic view of Taos, New Mexico. The jagged mountains tower over the small village in the foreground, which is the only sign that people inhabit this powerful landscape. It is this area in which Rudolfo Anaya’s novel Bless Me, Ultima, takes place. Set in New Mexico in the 1940’s, the novel is narrated by Antontio Marez y Luna. Tony shares with the reader his childhood memories and interactions with an important member of the community, Ultima. This is another coming-of age novel, which describes one child’s experience growing up in rural New Mexico (which can also be seen in Blumenschein’s painting). Bless me, Ultima has won many awards and is heralded as being the most widely read novel in the Chicano literary genre.

Those are just a few of my favorites – I encourage you to share any connections you have made between books and art! And of course, come visit us to take a closer look at some of these great artworks!

(PS: For anyone interested in the intersection of art and books, be sure to check out tomorrow’s Arts & Letters Live event featuring Peter Mendelsund, who designs book covers!)

Liz Bola
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

Back to School: From the Classroom to the DMA Collection

Now that all the kiddos are settled back into school, I began to think about how the Museum‘s collection could inspire them to keep learning outside the classroom. With the most common school subjects in mind, I decided to find works of art that might help them with their studies. Check out my pairings below.

Math

Upon first glance, it’s hard to tell if this large scale sculpture is symmetrical or asymmetrical. It takes a careful walk all the way around the work of art to find out.

Untitled, Ellsworth Kelly, 1982-1983, Dallas Museum of Art, commission made possible through funds donated by Michael J. Collins and matching grants from The 500, Inc., and the 1982 Tiffany & Company benefit opening

History

An historical figure, period, or event is often the subject of a work of art. This particular work features all three. Some of the imagery in Skyway includes President Kennedy and images of space exploration. Overall, the haphazard, overlapping composition captures the tumultuous time of change in the Sixties. What else does this colorful collage tell you about the Sixties?

Skyway, Robert Rauschenberg, 1964, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Shepherd, Jr. and General Acquisitions Fund

English

Some works of art are inspired by literature, like Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire. While it’s easy to find Cinderella in this beautiful work of art, it’s not as easy to tell which part of the Cinderella story is being depicted. Come to the Museum to get a closer look at all the details a photograph can’t capture, so you can guess which part of the classic fairy tale this could be. I’ll give you a big hint: there’s more than one right answer!

Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire, Thomas Sully, 1843, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

Geography

From the icy waters of the North Atlantic to the rolling hills of the French-Italian Riviera, wandering through the Museum galleries can take you on a trip around the world to a variety of climates and terrains. How many new places can you discover on your next visit?

The Icebergs, Frederic Edwin Church, 1861, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt

Valle Buona, Near Bordighera, Claude Monet, 1884, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated

Homework

Hopefully these collection connections will make learning in the Museum more fun for you and the kiddos than studying is for this little boy:

The First Thorns of Knowledge (Les premières épines de la science), Hugues Merle, 1864, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated

Hannah Burney
Community Teaching Programs Assistant

An Evening with David Sedaris

If you’ve ever read any of the eight books by David Sedaris, you probably already consider him a close and personal friend. Through his witty short stories, he seamlessly weaves back and forth between autobiography and absurdist fiction, having the reader laughing and gasping at each turn of the page. He effortlessly wraps you up in his world, introducing you to his quirky family, and keeping you on the inside of every joke. So, it came as no surprise that he was just as enthralling and humorous in person as he is in his books.

This was David Sedaris’ fourth year coming to Dallas with Arts & Letters Live, and yet the 2,500 seat SMU Auditorium was still completely sold out. After several readings and a question and answer session, many hurried to get their place in line to meet David. I say meet, because David Sedaris does not just sign books, he has a conversation with each person who approaches his table as if welcoming them into his home. Despite this taking hours, going very late into the night, Sedaris maintains his energy and enthusiasm for each and every fan.  He uses his comedic flare to start unusual conversations with each visitor, and then references the encounter in the book he signs for them. With a drawing or clever comment, Sedaris turns a brief interaction into a special inside joke between the fan and him.

In my case, I was so excited to see him that I ran out the door without either of my two favorite books that I wanted him to sign. Fortunately with a simple explanation, he was more than happy to sign the program for me instead, writing, “Oh Hannah you forget everything”. So, just like many of the fans in line, I got to walk away with my very own personal story of David Sedaris.

Don’t miss out on the rest of this Arts & Letters Live season!

If you have any stories from an Arts & Letters Live event, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments below.

Hannah Burney
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Upcoming Teacher Workshop: The Twenties

What comes to mind when you think of America in the twenties?

My first thoughts: jazz music, flappers, The Great Gatsby, the end of WWI, Prohibition, the Harlem Renaissance, Al Capone, and new rights for women. The country was quickly urbanizing and industrializing,  and technology was advancing. The twenties in the U.S. were “roaring” indeed – characterized  by dynamic change and modernization. Visual artists along with authors, poets, and playwrights responded to all this change through their works. The DMA’s upcoming full-day teacher workshop on March 31 will explore the conceptual and thematic threads that connect 1920s visual art, literature, and a rapidly morphing America.

For a little teaser of The Twenties workshop, read “The Red Wheelbarrow”  by William Carlos Williams. Then, view the following four artworks from Youth and Beauty: Art of the American TwentiesHow are ideas presented in the poem resonating with one or more of the artworks? Which artwork do you think best associates with the poem?

The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

We would love for you to leave a comment with your thoughts and associations!

Andrea Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Artworks shown:

  • Elsie Driggs, Queensborough Bridge, 1927, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey, Museum Purchase, Lang Acquisition Fund
  • Lewis Wickes Hine, Power House Mechanic, 1920-1921, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Walter and Naomi Rosenblum
  • Gerald Murphy, Razor, 1924, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the artist
  • Joseph Stella, The Amazon, 1925-1926, The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase with exchange funds from the Edward Joseph Gallagher II Memorial Collection

First Day of Spring

It’s official, today is the first day of spring! Which means I get to do some of my very favorite things.
Like picnics and swimming
Brunch and tennis
Smelling the flowers
And wearing dresses
Playing outside and enjoying nature
Once again, it’s my favorite time of the year.

I guess there’s just something about the sunshine that makes me want to rhyme. In the spirit of the new season, I have paired a few beautiful springtime scenes from the DMA’s collection with poetry. I hope you enjoy!

River Bank in Springtime, Vincent van Gogh

Never Mind, March

Never mind, March, we know
When you blow
You’re not really mad
Or angry, or bad;
You’re only blowing the winter away
To get the world ready for April and May

~ Author Unknown
.

Early Spring in Central Park, Nicolai Cikovsky

I Meant To Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand–
So what could I do but laugh and go?

~ Richard Le Gallienne
.

Bougival, Maurice de Vlaminick

Sunflakes

If sunlight fell like snowflakes
gleaming yellow and so bright
we could build a sunman
we could have a sunball fight.
We could watch the sunflakes
drifting in the sky
We could go sleighing
in the middle of July
through sundrifts and sunbanks
we could ride a sunmobile
and we could touch sunflakes-
I wonder how they’d feel.

~Frank Asch
.

A Host of Golden Daffodils, Charles Webster Hawthorne

Daffy Down Dilly

Daffy Down Dilly
Has come to town
In a yellow petticoat
And a green gown.

~ Mother Goose nursery rhyme
.

Jeanne: Spring, Edouard Manet

March

Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat-
You must have walked-
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell.

~ Emily Dickinson

What do you love about spring?

Hannah Burney
McDermott Education Intern for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Artworks shown:

River Bank in Springtime, Vincent van Gogh, 1887, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott in memory of Arthur Berger

Early Spring in Central Park, Nicolai Cikovsky, date unknown, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg

Bougival, Maurice de Vlaminick, 1905, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

A Host of Golden Daffodils, Charles Webster Hawthorne, before 1927, oil on canvas affixed to composition board, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Edna Smith Smrz in memory of Mrs. Ed C. Smith, Sr.

Jeanne: Spring, Edouard Manet, 1882, etching and aquatint, Dallas Museum of Art, Junior League Print Fund

Einstein's Dreams of the DMA

If you’re a follower of the DMA Educator Blog, then you’ve read about our Staff Reading Group.  Last Friday, our reading group combined a work of fiction with works from the collection in an engaging and provocative conversation.

Melissa selected five excerpts from Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman.*  The novel imagines what Einstein may have been dreaming about during the time that he was developing the theory of relativity.  Our instructions from Melissa were simple: read the  excerpts, each of which offers a definition of time, and select one work of art from the collection to illustrate that definition.  This idea was first introduced by Amy in a blog post over the summer.

Six staff members participated in the conversation, and we were shocked when we learned that we had each responded to the same excerpt: 14 April 1905.  In this chapter, time is defined in the following way: “Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself.  The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly” (Lightman, 6).

Both Hannah and Melissa selected Shiva Nataraja as the art equivalent of time as a circle.  Shiva is the Hindu deity of creation, destruction, and rebirth, and in this sculpture he dances out the rhythm of the universe.

Shiva Nataraja, India, 11th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

Our part-time intern, Mary Nangah, thought Jackson Pollock’s Cathedral best represented this concept of time.  It’s difficult to identify and starting and ending point for each line.  Time is also represented through the repetition of color and line on the canvas.

Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis

Jessica selected Harry Koerner’s June Night, which shows an intimate view of an apartment complex.  Jessica felt that these vignettes could happen any time, anywhere.  The images of the bride and groom, as well as the baby, also reminded her of the cycle of life.  The final line of this excerpt reads “For in each town, late at night, the vacant streets and balconies fill up with their moans” (Lightman, 9).  Jessica could imagine hearing sorrowful moans on the fire escape of this painting.

Henry Koerner, June Night, 1948-1949, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Joshua L. Logan

My selection was Apollo and Diana Attacking the Children of Niobe by Jacques-Louis David.  I was especially struck by the last paragraph of the reading, which was about people with unhappy lives who realize that they cannot change their actions and their mistakes will be repeated over and over again.  Here, Niobe pleads with Apollo and Diana to spare the last of her fourteen children from death.  She is being punished for her pride after boasting that her children were more beautiful and strong than Apollo and Diana.  Her final punishment comes when she is turned into a sculpture, forced to mourn for eternity.

Jacques-Louis David, Apollo and Diana Attacking the Children of Niobe, 1772, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund in honor of Dr. Dorothy Kosinski

If you were going to select one work of art from the DMA’s collection to represent time as a circle, what work would you choose?  I look forward to reading your responses in the comments!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

*Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams, New York: Vintage Books, 1993.


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