Posts Tagged 'Meaningful Moments'

Beachy Keen

Today is Grandparent’s Day, a day for everyone to recognize the strength, wisdom, and guidance older people can offer. At the DMA, we take every opportunity to celebrate our seniors and learn from their experiences.

During a recent Meaningful Moments program, participants Mel and Barbara shared their lifelong love of seashells with the rest of the group. Mel and Barbara have been collecting seashells for more than 40 years and brought some of their own specimens to the Museum to help us explore seashells in works of art.

Participants shared their memories of trips to the beach and enjoyed some hands-on time with Mel and Barbara’s seashell collection. Mel even surprised us when he blew his conch shell like a horn, filling the gallery with the sound of a bellowing trumpet. According to Mel and Barbara, this type of natural instrument has been used since Neolithic times!

As participants continue their lifelong learning at the Museum, we are so fortunate to share in their vast knowledge and rich experiences.

Emily Wiskera is Manager of Access Programs at the DMA.

Friday Photos: Fresh Prints

For our August Meaningful Moments program, participants explored the history of printmaking in the exhibition Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art. After enjoying the galleries, we returned to the studio to try our own hand at block printing on tea towels.

Be sure to catch Visions of America before it closes September 3rd!

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

The Light and the Dark

What is it about art that speaks to us so deeply? How does it tap into our soul and speak so loudly to us, sometimes even uncomfortably shouting our truths to other people? We spend all of our time hiding the deepest parts of our souls from others around us, sometimes even from the people closest in our lives. But art, this amazing living and breathing thing, shouts our truths back at us and makes us feel emotions that we were positive we had locked away deep in our hearts where they could not escape. Suddenly, there it is. That work of art that is so profound, so fierce, that it stops us in our tracks and we are taken aback. This seemingly unassuming piece vividly screaming out to us and all surrounding us.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Here I was, a four decade veteran of the mind as a psychotherapist, and my mind was the very thing being attacked. I realized something was wrong when I could not get my thoughts straight enough to form words. I could, and can, still speak but there is nothing more frustrating than consistently not being able to think of a word and speak it. My mind has become a tangled web where things often do not make sense and I have to stop and really think about what I want to convey to other people. As parts of my mind grow darker, the more creative and patient I must become–and this is where art has changed my life.

Recently I was able to come to the Museum and spend some time in the quiet stillness of the galleries before it was open to the public during the Meaningful Moments program. As I observed the beauty of this majestic place and wandered the meandering galleries, I took in the colors and the mediums, the brush strokes and the carvings; able to breathe deeply and take in the magnificence of where I was. As I turned the corner of a hallway towards the end of my time at the Museum, I saw a piece that stopped me in my tracks and pulled at my heartstrings.

Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Cathedral is a piece of contemporary art created by the famed Jackson Pollock in 1947. I had never taken stock in contemporary art, really. But this piece stole my heart and was screaming my truth in a way that I didn’t think was actually possible. In this, I see my mind—this mess of black and grey and white. What is the brain if not a mass of neurons, an incredible weaving of all of your thoughts and feelings, experiences and memories; together it creates this masterpiece that we call the brain. Cathedral puts onto canvas what the brain is and more specifically, those who have Alzheimer’s. The beautiful brightness is the living and breathing part of me that is alive, capable of everything. In contrast the inky black is what the Alzheimer’s has taken from me: the plaques, tangles and weaves that steal my mind.

As I sat looking at this enigmatic piece of art, I thought about my experiences over the last two years. I see the parts of me that I had to let go of: my practice, driving, paying the bills. The death of those things is so eloquently represented with the sharp jagged edges of black here. In contrast, I think of all of the things I still have: helping others as much as possible, holding a conversation with my friends, the love of my husband and family. While my brain has betrayed me in ways I cannot express to those who do not suffer from this disease, it has not taken the essence of who I am.

I sit and stare at Cathedral and in it I see who I am: I see that there is a complexity and a depth; there is pain and there is joy, truly a mix of the light and the dark. So often we do not understand that even in illness we are part of a bigger picture; to not let the dark define who we are is what is important. To embrace who and what we are and celebrate ourselves as part of a larger medium of art is the definition of life–for without the dark there would be no light.

Jane McManus
Participant, Meaningful Moments program

Allison Espinosa
Care Advisor, Honor Health Care

Our Harp’s Delight

July’s Meaningful Moments program was all about music as participants explored The Harp Lesson by Jean Antoine Théodore Giroust. While closely examining the 18th century French painting, participants shared their memories related to learning to play a musical instrument.

We were joined in the galleries by harpist Cindy Horstman, who shared her own experiences of learning the harp in college and becoming a professional musician. Cindy brought The Harp Lesson to life as she plucked away at her harp, filling the gallery with music.

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Cindy began by playing “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach, a piece of music that was popular during the time The Harp Lesson was painted. She also wowed us with a wide-ranging assortment of music including “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles and “Summertime” by George Gershwin, all played from memory!

At the end of the program, participants were already asking when Cindy could return again.

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

Volunteer Spotlight: Go van Gogh-ing with Terei

With school back in session, we are so excited to jump into a brand new season full of Go van Gogh fun! And we’re very fortunate to have a group of extremely dedicated and talented volunteers who help make these programs possible. This month, we want to shine the volunteer spotlight on Terei Khoury, one of our fabulous Go van Gogh volunteers! Here is Terei in her own words:

How long have you been volunteering at the DMA?  I’ve been on-board volunteering at the DMA for Go van Gogh about a year and a half! I love working with children and tying-in art, creativity, imagination and joy is right up my alley! I’ve also started helping with the Meaningful Moments sessions. My father has fallen victim to Alzheimer’s disease, and helping in the Meaningful Moments program allows me to make a difference in another significant way.

Go van Gogh van

What do you enjoy most about volunteering with Go van Gogh?  It’s hard to say what is most delightful, maybe ALL of this:

  • The DMA staff and their ENTHUSIASM & CREATIVITY
  • The other volunteers and their COMMITMENT & CARE in offering a meaningful program in our schools and summer camps
  • The JOY and ENLIGHTENMENT we see on children’s faces (especially the special-needs children) as they listen, absorb and TAKE CREATIVE action!

What is your favorite Go van Gogh program and why?  Hands-down, it’s “Color My World,” followed closely by “Ordinary to Extraordinary.”

  • In Color My World, it is absolutely extraordinary to see our special needs children experience the hands-on work with clay, paint and tools… it’s just amazing to see the level of excitement and joy this program can bring to some of the children!
  • It’s the thought process and creativity in Ordinary to Extraordinary that is exceptional, and the opportunity to stretch the mind to “go beyond the tube sock”!!

What are some of your other hobbies?  I do a number of volunteer activities: Habitat for Humanity (I’m a Core Volunteer!), Austin Street Center (dinner-coordinator), Reading Partners for DISD helping young readers hone their reading skills, HobbyCrafters creating dolls for holiday distribution, and a bunch of other things like gardening, sewing, and stuff!  I also, most importantly, care for my father who has Alzheimer’s. He’s my priority. I have a wonderful son and husband who also require a bit of attention!


Thank you so much for sharing your time and passion with us, Terei! We’re so thankful to all of our Go van Gogh volunteers for their commitment, time, and energy in bringing art programs to Dallas schools.

If you are interested in getting involved with this exciting volunteer opportunity, please visit the DMA website or email volunteers@dma.org for additional information. We’ll begin recruitment for Go van Gogh summer outreach programs in the coming months, and we’d love to Go van Gogh around Dallas with you!

Andi Orkin
Volunteer Coordinator for Programming

 

Friday Photos: Blast from the Past!

We have had a fun month full of memories this January. During our Meaningful Moments program for memory care groups, we have focused on objects in the DMA’s Decorative Arts gallery. From the Silver Streak iron (model no. 1038) to the Nocturne radio (Model 1186), objects in this gallery have sparked memories from several participants. Close looking, conversations, laughing, and even some toe-tapping while singing along to Bing Crosby filled the Decorative Arts gallery. Following our time looking at art, participants created their own decorative work of art – a colorful wreath to take back and hang on their doors.

 

Vacuum cleaner (model 30), Lurelle Guild, 1937

Vacuum cleaner (model 30), Lurelle Guild, Electrolux Corporation, 1937, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of John T. Howell and Thomas J. Howell in memory of their father John P. Howell

One object in particular, the Electrolux vacuum cleaner, inspired the most sharing. We got a kick out of one participant who shared a story about her mother’s Electrolux vacuum cleaner. We were lucky to snag a quick video.

Participant: “Father traveled a lot for business. He brought mother home an Electrolux, and he had her name printed on it.”
Danielle: “Was your mother very happy when she received that as a present, to see her name on the vacuum cleaner?”
Participant: “Well, her comment was, ‘You brought me something to work with!’”

What a fun story! And just the kind of memories we hope are shared during Meaningful Moments.

For more information, or to register a memory care facility group, call 214-922-1251 or e-mail access@DMA.org.

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences

Art Beyond Sight at the DMA

October is nearly over and at the DMA we have had another fun month of Art Beyond Sight programing. This is our eighth year of presenting programs related to Art Beyond Sight and many of our programs focused on exploring works of art using senses other than vision. Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month, sponsored by Art Education for the Blind, is celebrated by over 250 cultural institutions all over the world and focuses on the idea that everyone must have access to the world’s visual arts in order to fully participate in his or her community. At the DMA, we hope to not only make our programs welcoming to visitors of all abilities, but to specifically raise awareness of making art accessible to people with vision impairment.

John Bramblitt talking about his artistic process with visitors in the studio.

John Bramblitt talking about his artistic process with visitors in the studio.

This year several of our programs for families, from First Tuesday to Arturo’s Art and Me related to Art Beyond Sight themes. Children had the chance to experience tables full of various textures and smells on First Tuesday and explore the galleries on a family tour focused on the senses. Toddlers explored texture in the African Art gallery and learned about Braille and raised line drawings. Even Arturo’s Nest, our space for children aged four and under, was stocked with toys and interactives that highlight the senses.

For several of our programs, we welcomed artist John Bramblitt, who has collaborated with us on ABS programming for the past 5 years. We love having John as an integral part to our programs; he is a favorite summer art camp special guest and often a featured artist at past large Museum-wide events. This year, John gave a gallery talk with an overview of his process as a painter who is blind. John focused on the way that he integrates music, texture, and even taste into his artwork. John brought several paintings and invited visitors to look closely–even to touch, something that is rare in an art museum!

John also helped to lead Meaningful Moments, our program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease. This is John’s fourth year to be a part of the program and he is definitely a crowd favorite! This year, we focused on immersing participants in a sensory experienced focused on two paintings in the American galleries. John shared how he integrates a sense of place into his landscapes and then participants described the paintings in detail to John, as he sketched their descriptions onto a Styrofoam sheet. Over the years, I have noticed that visitors give some of the best and most detailed descriptions of artwork when asked to share their thoughts with John–and his drawing of the described painting certainly amazes! To help immerse visitors into each artwork, we played related sounds, shared scents that connect to the paintings, and passed around tactile objects inspired by the works. In the studio, participants used numerous materials with a range of textures to create their own textural landscape.

For both Late Night Studio Creations and our homeschool program, John helped us to explore artwork with music. In the studio, participants listened to different elements of the same song (vocals, piano, or the percussion instruments) and imagined a color for the song before creating a shape or design with oil pastel using their chosen color. After gluing their shapes to a larger piece of paper, John played the song in its entirety and invited visitors to imagine a color for the song. Visitors used watercolor paint to paint over their shapes to create their own musical-inspired artworks. The process of cutting shapes and piecing them together was inspired by one of John’s recent studio experiments of cutting up and reassembling dried paint. For the homeschool program, we linked the musical studio activity to the galleries through a discussion with John about a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe that was inspired by music and movement.

We have had so much fun with John this October for an enjoyable month of sensory exploration. For more information about the Art Beyond Sight programs at the DMA, please click here.

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences

My Meaningful Moments at the DMA

Our educators create amazing programs for all audiences here at the Museum. Learn more about Meaningful Moments, our program for individuals with early stage dementia, on our blog Uncrated.

My Meaningful Moments at the DMA

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and Scholl Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program.

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program

There are many reasons I enjoy working with our Access Programs here at the DMA, but one of the big ones is the chance to form relationships—relationships with participants and, in turn, their relationship with works of art in our galleries. The Meaningful Moments program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partner (usually a spouse or family member) creates opportunities for people to have transformative experiences with works of art and with one another. I feel lucky to be a part of this each month. As I have gotten to know the participants over the years and spent time with them each month, I am reminded of the importance to live in the moment and to cherish each day that we get to spend with our loved ones. The Meaningful Moments program reinforces my belief in love and in the kindness of humanity.

If someone were to pass by our group in the galleries, it would appear as if longtime friends were chatting and reminiscing. In the studio, there is often laughter and joking as participants create and share their artwork. Many of the participants get together outside of the program, for lunches or support groups. I have received gardening tips and holiday cards from individuals in the program, and I have even visited the woodworking shop of a participant to learn how to use a lathe. The group is social and very welcoming to newcomers, but is also a supportive bunch of familiar faces.

Viewing and talking about works of art can unearth past memories, especially those still accessible to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. I have witnessed this many times during Meaningful Moments. From a Native American cradle sparking recollections about vacationing with young children, an exhibition with a beautiful wedding gown triggering detailed stories about participants’ wedding days, impressionist works reminding attendees of a favorite nature spot from their youth, or a print by Andy Warhol generating a lively discussion of life in the 1960s, artwork often serves as a catalyst to connect with the stories from the past and with loved ones in the present. During our gallery conversations, spouses (even those married more than fifty years) occasionally learn new things about their loved one’s past.

Crucial to the Meaningful Moments program, socialization and simulation play a key role and have been proven to help improve mood and behavior, as well as dramatically enhance quality of life. The social interaction and exploration of works in the collection are as gratifying to the spouse or family member as it is to the attendees with Alzheimer’s disease. I have seen care partners lean on one another for support and bond over shared experiences. One woman who used to bring her husband to the program still occasionally attends, even though her husband passed away two years ago. A couple who has attended the program since the beginning even schedules their doctor’s appointments and vacations around the program dates. A wife who brings her husband has told me that she needs the program, as it is a time when she can connect emotionally with him and not think about the disease for the two hours that they are in the Museum.

Since the program began four years ago, two of my favorite people in my life have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I know how heartbreaking it can feel for this disease to affect someone you love, let alone how scary it must feel for the person diagnosed. The Meaningful Moments program is one of the best parts of my job and means so much to me as an educator—it is an honor to be welcomed into the circle of this small group of people and to become part of their experience as they journey through life navigating such a devastating disease.

Getting to know program attendees and seeing how much the couples genuinely and patiently care for one another, I have witnessed true love in action. To watch a husband gingerly fit a headpiece he designed around his wife’s head, to catch couples married fifty years holding hands in front of a Jackson Pollock, to be in the studio immersed in jewelry-making with attendees while listening to Duke Ellington and suddenly looking up to see an impromptu slow dance take place by one of the couples in the program are just a few of the many truly memorable experiences for me, and ones that I will always cherish.

To learn more about the DMA’s Meaningful Moments program, or for information on how to schedule a group from assisted-living facilities specializing in memory care, visit the Museum’s website or e-mail access@DMA.org.

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

What is Accessibility?

The DMA, as well as other museums and cultural institutions across the country, have been tackling this question in the hopes of creating environments that are safe, open, and comfortable for a wide variety of people. Primarily, accessibility is thought of as a physical construct: a museum is deemed accessible if it holds no physical barriers to entry. Ramps, elevators and similar architectural structures are essential components for accessibility, providing individuals with and without mobility issues easy entry into any type of building. Removing physical boundaries is a key first step towards addressing the accessibility question.

A family participating in an Autism Awareness Family Celebration at the DMA

A family participating in an Autism Awareness Family Celebration at the DMA

But then what? How does accessibility extend inside museum walls? Museums strive to ensure that their collections, programs, and services are accessible to all audiences, often by providing diverse educational programs that cater to visitors of varying abilities. When we think about teaching at the DMA, we think about inclusive experiences that are open to everyone, regardless of a person’s ability. While making learning experiences at the DMA open and accessible to all is important, we also believe that designing individualized experiences for a range of needs is important too. And we hope these special programs raise the awareness that art is for everyone, though some visitors may need to work in different ways to see and enjoy it.

Meaningful Moments participants in the gallery

Meaningful Moments participants in the gallery

Our Access Programs provide these individualized experiences for visitors with special needs. Interactive gallery experiences and hands-on art making opportunities are available for adults with developmental disabilities as part of our partnership with The Arc of Dallas, as well as for adults with dementia and their care partners during our Meaningful Moments monthly program. For families and visitors with autism spectrum disorders, we organize a specialized summer art camp for children as well as Autism Awareness Family Celebrations throughout the year. These multi-sensory programs and events involve tactile opportunities and art-making activities that enable visitors of varying abilities to discover and appreciate artists and their works of art. During the month of October, we participate in Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month and focus on helping visitors enjoy art using senses beyond eyesight.

John Bramblitt talking about his works of art to summer campers

Artist John Bramblitt talking about his works of art to summer campers

The DMA is an Art Beyond Sight Partner and is proud to have participated in programming for Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month each October since 2007. Composed of leading institutions in 35 states and 25 countries, Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month is an outreach effort dedicated to promoting art education for people with vision impairment and building an inclusive society with improved access for all. This year, we were excited to expand our offerings to include programs for adults.

John leading a homeschool class for ABS month in the DMA's galleries

John leading a homeschool class in the galleries

Artist John Bramblitt joined several ABS programs this month to talk about his process as a blind painter. Our October First Tuesday was focused on the senses and the Museum’s youngest visitors had the chance to immerse themselves in a sensory experience in Arturo’s Nest, our space for children under the age of four. John led Studio Creations in early October to kick-off a month of ABS-themed weekend art-making. He also led this month’s Meaningful Moments for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and he will close our month of experiences by teaching our homeschool class. In our Arturo’s Art and Me class for children aged 3-5, kids got to paint in the dark to experience sightless painting and our Arc participants had the chance to wear blindfolds to paint with their fingers!

Visitors experience John Bramblitt's Sightless Painting activity

Visitors experience John’s Sightless Painting activity

In addition to these experiences, John led a public gallery talk for adults, during which he shared images of his artwork, talked about his process, and provided insights into his subject matter. And during Late Night last Friday, John teamed up with Stephen Lapthisophon in an artist’s lecture. Both artists have visual impairment, and both approach painting in a completely different way.

John’s process is very detailed and planned out, with various techniques that he employs for raised lines. John uses raised lines to sketch the base of his drawing first – some of the lines are raised for only a short period of time while others remain raised to allow John to feel the contours of his drawing for a longer amount of time. After he drafts his lines, John adds many, many layers of paint. For Stephen on the other hand, art-making is a social art and isn’t highly technical.

Both artists have varied creative inputs as well. Much of John’s artwork is representational and a reflection of an internalization of his sensory world, while Stephen’s artwork is more about the experience of his senses as he is creating (often with food and text) which could be a reflection of society and the associations of his materials. Each artist spoke a bit about his process and then each had the chance to sit down for a conversation together before taking questions from the audience. The artists had the chance to ask questions of one another and it was interesting to hear them contrast their processes and to get their takes on how other senses play a strong role in their own art. This program was an opportunity for visitors with visual impairment to meet and talk with John and Stephen. The lecture ended with a woman who has been blind for five years asking advice from the artists about her own art. Each artist gave her some ideas and encouragement before meeting with her after the lecture to continue the conversation.

Visitors with vision impairment talking with John Bramblitt and Stephen Lapthisophon after their Late Night artist lecture

Visitors with vision impairment talking with John and Stephen after their Late Night artist lecture

The Access Programs offered by the DMA are essential components in creating welcoming, accessible environments, but there is still more to be done. What other types of resources can and should be made available to visitors?  Let us know what you think and be sure to check back in the future as we delve deeper into this matter.

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences


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