Posts Tagged 'Oil and Cotton'

Need some Available Space?

If you haven’t been to the Museum in a while, you’re missing out! In our Barrel Vault and surrounding galleries, we recently launched DallasSITES: Available Space in connection with the exhibition DallasSITES: Charting Contemporary Art, 1963 to Present. The project space features select artists, curators, collectives, and art educators from the community programming unique and innovative projects, including The Art FoundationHOMECOMING!Oil and CottonPerformanceSWDallasVideoFest, and Brookhaven College.

I have had the opportunity to help coordinate the Oil and Cotton space, where you can exercise your creative side with a hands-on activity almost every hour of the day (and you can find more hands-on making at the Center for Creative Connections or the Pop-Up Art Spot)! Check out some pictures from the activities we’ve done so far:

Life Casting with Nick Hutchings

Life Casting with Nick Hutchings

Drop in and Paint with Chong Chu and students from Brookhaven College

Drop in and Paint with Chong Chu and students from Brookhaven College

Kids Class with Jessica Sinks

Kids Class with Jessica Sinks

Life Drawing Course

Life Drawing Course

Hurry and stop by to experience this space–it’s only here until August 18th!

To see more photos from our programs CLICK HERE!

And for a complete schedule of Available Space programming CLICK HERE!

Amanda Batson
C3 Program Coordinator

Oil and Cotton’s Use of Available Space

If you’ve stopped by the DMA’s Barrel Vault you have seen the Museum’s first experimental space, DallasSITES: Available Space, with art installations and programming from area artists, collectives, and educators. Oil and Cotton, located in Oak Cliff, has an interactive project room where visitors can participate in free workshops and drop-in activities. We caught up with their co-founders to see how the first week has gone:


DMA: What does it mean to Oil and Cotton to be involved in the DMA’s first experimental space, DallasSITES: Available Space?
Oil and Cotton: It is a huge honor for us to be exhibiting in DallasSITES: Available Space. It feels great to be recognized by our peers, whom we respect so much. And it is validating to be seen for exactly what we are – an artwork that serves through education.

DMA: What can visitors expect in the Oil and Cotton project room?
O + C: They can expect to use it however they see best. We mean for it to be inviting for all ages at all levels of experience. I had a great conversation with a teenage boy from Oklahoma over the weekend. He was with a tour group who were feeling a bit out of place, insecure, and self-conscious. The other teens were teasing each other about not being able to make art (translation: I don’t belong here.) He leaned towards me and subtly gestured to the open weave bulb baskets that had been made earlier by a class, and whispered that he thought they might be good for catching fish in a river. EXACTLY! We got into a conversation about knotting and netting, using hog gut, and then he made the bold decision to ask me to show him how to weave. In that moment, he belonged. That is the essence of our educational mission.
o+c option

DMA: What was the opening like for your organization last Friday during Late Night? Did you anticipate the crowds?
O + C: Um no. It was utterly insane in a fantastic way. We naively set up drawing activities, thinking for the first night, we’d keep it simple. Before we knew it, the whole place was blowing up with weaving, sculpting, collage, sewing, you name it. All ages, including artists, curators, and toddlers, were working side by side at a huge table covered in donated supplies.  I heard someone comment that he couldn’t tell where the exhibition ended and the education began. Yippee!

DMA: Have you seen anything that may inspire your own practice back at your studio in Oak Cliff?
O + C: Absolutely. More collaboration, more getting out there and serving more people, and more autonomy. It is so exciting to meet people who have never heard of us and hear from them what they might want to contribute.

DMA: What are the DMA visitors’ reactions to DallasSITES: Available Space and the Oil and Cotton area?

O + C: At first, people engage with the spectacle – thanks to our architect Esther Walker, who captured the feel of our place with her ingenuity and labor of love. Then they wander in and realize it is there for them. They seem to appreciate the options. Parents can make something or just sit and relax, teens can draw with nice materials in a studio, little kids can make forts and roll around in the “park” of leather hides and circle looms made by my daughter. And everyone is invited to hang work on the wall, participate in free classes, ask questions, and use the studio when the Museum is open.

DMA: Have you “met” your neighbors in the exhibition?

O + C: We borrowed a lot of cups of sugar during installation! We enjoyed watching Brandon Kennedy install his book collection and Homecoming! win the hardest working art collective in show business award. My daughter gave a sculpture to Jeffrey Grove (smart move honey!), we got to spend a whole lot of time getting to know the super accommodating DMA staff. It is so special for us all to inhabit the Museum, which has prior to this exhibit a bit of an untouchable space for local artists. Education is of course another story, as they are always reaching out into the community and providing opportunities for Dallas artists. But being in this exhibition, in the same galleries that housed Mark Bradford, Cindy Sherman, and Jim Hodges (!), is a new and exciting opportunity for us. It gives participants a sense of belonging to this city and being recognized for their merits. I hope this leads to more emerging and local artist exhibitions throughout the year. And even more, I hope it emboldens the Dallas art community to launch projects, push for press, and truly making a living as artists here.

We asked visitors to give us a sentence or two describing their personal experiences in the Oil and Cotton Project Room. See below:

“The Oil & Cotton project room was so inspiring and beautiful! I loved being able to bring in my late Gramma’s collection of yarn and contribute in some small way to it all. I know it would have made her absolutely giddy to see some of her supplies used at the DMA! I love how the O + C team created such a wonderful space where the community can come in, create something of their own or contribute to what is already there, and then leave completely inspired to do something at home.” -Jillian Ragsdale

“It’s a rare experience indeed to discover oneself a space that is both as warm and as energetic as the one that Oil and Cotton have crafted at the DMA. (In fact, perhaps its better, to discuss the many spaces within their own space, but that would constitute and essay rather than a few remarks.) I think that the installation works, however, because it is literally at work, engaged in the seriously playful business of supporting creative endeavor. Oil and Cotton’s DMA installation is neither solely gallery nor studio. Public as well as intimate, what Oil and Cotton offers at the DMA is a vital demonstration of how we might imagine not so much what but the combined how and why of what artists do, and what such doing means in terms of simply living, and living well for the sake of everyone.” -Joe Milazzo

“Oil and Cotton created a beautiful, active, yet peaceful space. It is a room I’d like to hang out in. I am so happy and impressed the DMA gave O&C a chance to express themselves freely.” -Kelly Mitchell

“The Oil and Cotton installation at the recent DMA DallasSites exhibition was breath of fresh air. Being able to create and stimulate ideas in a museum context surrounded by a strong artistic community was inspiring. I love the organic well thought out context that O&C provides for people of any age to engage and learn about art practices.” -Ariel Saldivar

“As I’ve come to expect from their continual efforts, Oil and Cotton has once again provided a space for creative exploration, enriched by the affection for detail and caring guidance and by the knowledge and warmth consistently demonstrated by the owners, Kayli and Shannon, as well as by the artists they choose to involve.” -Sally Glass

“I was blown away by the excitement of the Friday night opening of DallasSites. Oil and Cotton has always had a very sincere and authentic atmosphere in their Oak Cliff location, and that same feeling is evident in the DMA gallery space. I felt welcomed and energized by the design of the work space and the presence of everyone attending the Late Night” -Rachel Rushing

Community Connection: Oil and Cotton

Every six months or so, our department gets away for a day-long retreat.  It’s an opportunity for us to reflect, look ahead, and spend time together outside of our typical work spaces.  We’ve been fortunate to hold two of these retreats at Oil and Cotton, a creative space in Oak Cliff that offers a variety of multidisciplinary art classes, workshops, and camps.  Opened in September 2010, the space is managed by Shannon Driscoll and Kayli House Cusick.

How did you get started?

Shannon:  Kayli and I met during a volunteer project in our neighborhood called The Better Block. The project took an area of the neighborhood, where Oil and Cotton is now located, and made temporary changes to the block that we felt as a community would make it more pedestrian-friendly.  We met at one of the first meetings, where we both raised our hands and said we were interested in doing a pop-up art studio for the community.

After that, Kayli and I started planning, and we created Rock, Paper, Scissors.  We used a warehouse on Seventh Street, asked for donated materials from friends and family, and set up a base of volunteers for two days during the Oak Cliff Art Crawl.  We set up a long, long table full of art supplies and materials, and had volunteers lead people through creative projects, from collage to stenciling to drawing and painting.  All the volunteers were artists or had different creative backgrounds from Oak Cliff and beyond.  The space was packed with crowds for the entire weekend.  It was really wonderful to see people of all ages and backgrounds and from different parts of the neighborhood and of Dallas, sitting together and making things side by side.

After the festival, people in the community approached us and said they didn’t want us to stop what we were doing.  The gentleman who owned the warehouse had a building that came up for rent, and we talked to him and decided to go for it.  Kayli and I both come from art-related backgrounds, and we brought our experiences as artists and educators to what we’re doing.

Shannon Driscoll, co-owner and instructor at Oil and Cotton

What did you do before opening Oil and Cotton?

Shannon:  I had a private conservation practice – I’m an art conservator.  I had also been teaching classes on the side at my studio and at the Dallas County Jail with Resolana – I’m a board member for Resolana as well.

Kayli:  I wrote curriculum for my mother, who had a business for about twelve years off and on. It was something we did as a family growing up; she was an art teacher, and she made elementary art curriculum for Coppell ISD.  When she opened a business with my sister, I was a music composer at UNT, and it ended up being the perfect fit.  I also taught piano lessons privately out of my house forever and ever.  Then I had a child; when I met Shannon, my daughter was two, and that’s what I was doing.  I had always had the idea on my backburner, if I could ever figure out how to combine all the loves I had, and have a work environment my child could be in, I could do everything I love to do.  It all came together when I met Shannon and she said, of course we can do that.

What has the community response been to Oil and Cotton?

Shannon:  It has been wonderful.  A day hasn’t gone by when someone has not come in to ask how they could help us or how they could donate materials to us or asked us for another class that we’re not offering.  People feel involved in what we’re doing; they’ve seen us grow from something very small to something more permanent and a part of their neighborhood.  I think that’s exciting for people.  They feel invested in what we’re doing, and they want to help us.  We wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done in this amount of time without their help.  People have donated a box of white tiles, which we used to create backsplash for the sink; corks; fabric; paper… we always find a way to use what we’re given.  We’ve had people come to us and say, “I have this idea for a project, and I want to see it happen”.  For example, an architect led a two-week architecture workshop for teens, and they created a deck for us.  All the materials were donated, and architects came and talked to the teens everyday.  We’ve had the most amazing, talented interns that support our education outreach, and we’ve had teachers who help select children in the neighborhood who might not be able to afford classes here, and we give them scholarships.  We rely on these neighborhood teachers to send us people who need help, and who will benefit from coming to Oil and Cotton.

A community collage was part of a free open house and student exhibition

What has been your most successful or fun class?

Kayli:  For me, it’s songwriting camp.  I got to work with other musicians – I worked with David Daniels, who is a touring indie rock musician; Floramay Holliday, a touring country music singer; and Mikal Beth Hughey, a jack-of-all-trades who plays in some bands locally and teaches piano and voice in her studio at The Kessler Theater.  It was a weeklong summer camp.  The kids came in and formed bands; they collaborated to write a song together, rehearsed it like crazy, recorded it, made a CD, and had a performance at the end of the camp.  They had to come up with merchandise and think about the visual aspects of what they were doing, in the form of a band t-shirt, poster, and CD cover.  We had a photographer take pictures of them for their CD’s.  It was just awesome fun for me as a musician; I got to learn from other musicians how they approach writing.  We occupied the whole space, with kids rehearsing in every room as loud as they could be.  The kids could be themselves without a lot of adult interference.

We also got to work with the DMA on the Mark Bradford exhibition.  That was very special – I am a big fan of his work.  We were part of a meeting with people from Oak Cliff to bring some Oak Cliff blood into the situation.  We volunteered to work with Nicole and have our teen class to do this interactive project during a Late Night.  That was really fun.  What I liked about that was all the ages and different people; we had senior citizens to little kids, and it was a lot like Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Everyone brought something different to it.  By the end of the night, the teens were destroying the project and making little sculptures out of it.  It was originally a weaving, and it became sculptural.

Oil and Cotton Mark Bradford Late Night project

Has anything surprised you since the opening of Oil and Cotton?

Kayli:  The amount of generosity people have shown in our community, and the enthusiasm of the art community here to try and make Dallas good.  The amount of interns and volunteers we get because they want to see us succeed and want to be a part of it.  People understand this is art in social practice, that we’re making this happen for real.  It’s been a surprise to us that something that is natural for us to be doing makes people think “Oh hey, I can do my thing and survive.  If I don’t spend too much money and work my tail off, I can survive”.   It helps to have the support of our neighborhood, and we could never have made it without that support.  People offer to paint walls, dig the dirt in back of the building.  My mother also gave us a ton of furniture and art supplies.

What is one of your most treasured handmade possessions?

Shannon:  I am a collector of art, and art has always been a part of my life.  My dad is a junker; I grew up going to yard sales, estate sales, and junk shops with him in Baltimore, so I’ve collected things over the years.  I’ve got a collection of drawings that a little girl made from 1908. She must have done them in her classroom, because there is a drawing of the back of the head of the child sitting in front of her.  There is also a drawing of a doll she titled “Mr. Eat-a-Pie”.  They are beautiful pencil drawings, and she watercolored some of them as well.  She made a little portfolio for them that says 1908 along with her name.

Kayli:  A little woodblock that was my grandmother’s.  She was an Okie, and she had an amazing collection of all kinds of Native American things.  She had this little tiny wood block, around five by seven inches, with mustard yellow paint remnants on it.  I’ve always wanted to do something with it.  It has a sort of a tesellation or radial design with teepees and geometric shapes that come out from the center.  It looks like an old lino; you can see all the different colors used to print it, like red and green under the yellow.  You know it was used a lot, but you don’t know what for.  It says “20 cents” really big on the back.

Kayli House Cusick, co-owner and instructor at Oil and Cotton, and her grandmother's woodblock

Kayli:  We would love to see more teachers getting together here.  We’d love for people to know that if they have a group and want to do a special technique workshop, we’ll either teach it ourselves or find someone else to teach it.  This is great space for retreats.  (*Editor’s note: we agree!)

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Relax, Recharge, Retreat!

Earlier this week, we set aside a few hours for a staff retreat.  Though one goal was to discuss work-related topics, we also wanted to get outside of the Museum and spend time doing something different. 

Luckily, our retreat coincided perfectly with the opening of Oil and Cotton.  Business and creative partners Shannon Driscoll and Kayli House graciously opened their doors to us, despite the fact that they had just moved into their new space days before.  During the first half of our retreat, Shannon and Kayli helped us personalize small books by screenprinting the cover with designs of our choice.

Some of us brought designs to use for their covers, while others drew their cover designs.  First, we traced our designs onto a piece of mesh fabric held taut by an embroidery loop.  Next, we painted all areas of our design that we did not want to print with regular school glue.  The glue was mixed with blue paint so we could see which areas had been covered. Last, we used a small piece of matboard to push acrylic paint through the areas of fabric not coated with glue.

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Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community 


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