Posts Tagged 'resources'

Creating Narratives

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about the ways we communicate through words and images.   In grade school, we are taught to look for contextual clues to determine the meaning of unknown words.   We make the same application when we look at images that are both familiar and unfamiliar to us.   Images are all around us – in books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and museums, just to name a few.

To make sense of what we see, we often create events in our minds about what we think the image is about.  For example, a work of art may suggest a story to us – the work could show the beginning, middle, or end of a story.  Some artworks may be more narrative than others.  Take a look at the following images by artists Charlie White and Gregory Crewdson.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the photograph Untitled (boy with hand in drain),  Gregory Crewdson encourages us to look closely at the scene of a young man reaching down the drain into a sinister-looking space below.  Using a sound stage or working on location, Crewdson directs each photograph as if it were a feature-length film, placing his models exactly where he wants them.   Everything in the photograph has a specific purpose from the Scope mouthwash on the sink to the soap in the shower to the light from the window.

In Inland Empire, Charlie White draws our attention to the lower left side of the photograph where a woman wields an iron pipe at a hideous monster.   Although the scene appears as if it is from a science fiction movie, it seems strangely familiar, like an urban American landscape that we have encountered at some point during our lifetime.   This computer-assisted photograph demonstrates the influence of special effects on the technique and process of photography and the motion picture industry.

The stage is set and ready for us to complete the stories.   What do you think happens next in either Untitled (boy with hand in drain) or Inland Empire?  Use all of the contextual clues in the photographs to aid in creating a new narrative.

To explore more photographs in the Museum’s collection, go to Picture This: 20th and 21st Century Photographs.

Until next time….

Jenny Marvel
Manager of Programs and Resources for Teachers

Artworks featured:

Gregory Crewdson (American, born 1962), Untitled, 2001-2002 Digital C-print, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art:  DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2002.45

Charlie White (American, b. 1972), The Inland Empire, 1999 Light jet chromogenic print mounted on Plexiglas, Dallas Museum of Art, Mary Margaret Munson Wilcox Fund, 1999.180

Educator Resources: Three Excellent Online Resources from the DMA

As educators, we know you all are always looking for fantastic resources to benefit both you and your students in and outside the classroom.  However, these resources can be hard to come by, especially if you don’t know where to look.

So, we are beginning a series on Educator Resources to highlight some of the materials and opportunities available to you and your students.  This month, we will begin by talking about various online resources available through the Museum and accessible on our main web site

1. Teaching Materials

Under the “Educators” tab of the main website, select “Teaching Resources” and then “Teaching Materials.”  This portion of our website offers over thirty FREE downloadable “packets” of information, organized by theme, age level, or collection.  Some examples include Silver in America, A Looking Journey (4th grade), and Arts of the Americas.  These packets include introductory information, images of art objects, and classroom activities, along with bibliographies and printable materials. 

This portion of our online offerings is currently in a period of transition.  Through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant, to be discussed here later this month by Nicole, the materials are being revamped to better suit teacher needs.  As we begin to add new and updated materials, the original materials and packets will still be online for your use.

2. Collections Online

Another fantastic resource to be found on the Museum web site are the Collections Online or Search Collections features.  Several of our staff are working tirelessly to present the over 20,000 objects within the DMA collection to online audiences.  Currently, over 6,300 works have been added to the online database and are searchable through the website.  When viewing these objects online, users have access to images, basic object information, and notes from the curators.  Objects can be sorted by collection area (i.e. African, Asian, etc.), artist, and object name.  Users can also create a FREE eMuseum account to group and save images in customizable packets.


Finally from the main website, you can access DMA TV.  This resource includes both videos and podcasts created by the Museum, ranging from interviews with curators and artists (i.e. this video interview with painter Luc Tuymans) to recordings of past lectures (i.e. Yale University Anthropology Professor, Michael D. Coe’s presentation: The True History of Chocolate). 

We hope that you will take the time to explore the many wonderful online resources the DMA has to offer and find ways to incorporate them into your lesson preparation or classroom teaching.  Don’t forget to check back in the coming months for posts about other educator resources, including online resources from other institutions, area adult learning opportunities, and local and national grants.

If you have any additional tips for your fellow educators, please leave a comment below!

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Resources

Thematic Connections with Contemporary Art: Systems and Process

We constantly encounter and use systems in our everyday lives – roadways, electricity, mathematics, language, and so much more.   Although there are multiple definitions of a system, the one that seems to be the most universal is a grouping of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent items forming a unified whole.

An artist may employ a system in his or her creative process, in subject matter, or in concept.   During the first part of the Contemporary Teacher Workshop (at the Dallas Museum of Art) on Saturday, February 19, participants will explore the theme of systems in select artworks from the 1960s through today in the exhibitions Re-Seeing the Contemporary:  Selected from the Collection and Big New Field:  Artists in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program. With a focus on language and systems within an artist’s process, educators will engage in interactive and interdisciplinary experiences that are applicable and translatable for the classroom.  On Saturday, February 26, our conversation about the artist’s process will continue at The Rachofsky House as we view the current installation Process Imperfect.

There are a few spaces available for this two-part teacher workshop.  If interested, please register online.

Here are a few artworks that may be a part of the conversation on Saturday, February 19:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Until next time….

Jenny Marvel
Manager of Programs and Resources for Teachers

Images in slide show:
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park No. 29, 1970, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Inc.

Christopher Wool, Untitled, 1990, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Friends of Contemporary Art

Sol Lewitt, Wall Drawing #398, 1983 (drawn 1985), Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. Collins and Mr. and Mrs. James L. Stephenson, Jr.

Carl Andre, Pyramid (Square Plan), 1959 (destroyed) 1970 (remade), Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund and matching funds from The 500, Inc.

Calm, Yet Fierce: An Experiment in Social Tagging Works of Art

Emma-O, Japan, late 16th - early 17th century

What words and phrases would you use to describe this sculpture, Emma-O?  Calm?  Fierce?  Intense?  The Dallas Museum of Art is interested in what teachers have to say about a select group of artworks from the Museum’s collection.  Visit STEVE: The Museum Social Tagging Project to “tag” one, five, or ten of the fifty-two images of artworks from the African and Asian collections.  If you are new to “social tagging”, it simply means to “tag”, or label, a work of art with a descriptive or associative word or phrase.

Why do we care about what you think?  Well, we often get very comfortable with our own vocabularies, which may or may not be interesting or accessible to everyone.  The idea behind social tagging is that you can build a more broad vocabulary around ideas or artworks and can consider new ways to describe and to think about works of art. It is also a great way to work with expert audiences–like educators.  We want to know what words and phrases you would use to describe various works of art and what we can learn from you.

This tagging project is one part of the Dallas Museum of Art’s IMLS grant, Connect: Teachers, Technology, and Art, which is focused on the redesign of online teaching materials for teachers and students.  In partnership with the New Media Consortium, the DMA is one of several museums participating in the Steve-in-Action project exploring various applications for social tagging with works of art.

We invite you to participate in this project.  Visit our tagger environment and look for a screen similar to the image below.  Create your login and then tag away.  Spend five or fifteen minutes sharing words and phrases that you feel aptly describe works of art from the Dallas Museum of Art.  It’s also fun to see what others have to say about the artworks.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

The Sounds of Music

“Move your neck according to the music.”    – Ethiopian Proverb

Music is a universal language that helps us communicate our ideas, beliefs, and feelings.   When music is used independently or in tandem with other disciplines in the classroom, teachers are making it possible for students to hear and see the connections to the world around them. 


During the 2009-2010 school year, Museum staff downloaded music from the Smithsonian Folkways website for use in the galleries with the students in the Dallas ISD/ DMA Talented and Gifted (TAG) Museum Program.  With a focus on common ideas about being human, TAG students listened to and identified song types (i.e. lullabies, wedding, funeral, and work songs) universal to all peoples.  Song selections included the following:

Using an active ear, the students discussed the similarities and differences of the music selections from each culture.  Smithsonian Folkways is a non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution that documents folk and world music.  The Folkways website includes lesson plans and additional resources created by their network of teachers. 

If you are interested in a more in-depth conversation about works of art, performances, or lectures, go to the Smithsonian Institution’s Podcast website.  There is a wide array of disciplines and topics represented in the podcasts.  If you have a moment or two, I encourage you to think about ways you can use these types of digital resources in your classroom related to the curriculum you teach. 

Until next time….

Jenny Marvel
Manager of Learning Partnerships with Schools

Charm City Conference Memoirs

So there I was nearly one week ago ending a week in Baltimore, Maryland by trekking through the galleries at the Walters Art Museum soaking up all the visual and mental goodness that the works of art would allow me.  Beautiful Barbizons.  This respite of art viewing was the perfect transition between the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Conference the week prior and another busy work week ahead of me.

Fortunately, several of my colleagues and I were able to attend the NAEA conference in Baltimore this year to share our work with others and learn from fellow educators in museums, schools, and universities.  It’s a great opportunity to reflect and recharge so that we can get back to doing that important work that we all do.

This year’s conference theme was Art Education and Social Justice.  Museum educators kicked off their exploration of this theme during a pre-conference session held on April 13.  Artist Joyce J. Scott, a native of Baltimore and a bit of spunky lady, entertained us with a keynote presentation of images and stories from her life and challenged us with the ideas in her art, which often confront head-on tough social issues.  She is an active member of her community and a teaching artist.  Joyce says she ‘teaches kids to be just with each other’, and she encourages us as museum educators to think about how museums are the perfect context for this kind of teaching and learning.  Think about all of the great issues that museums could address. In break-out sessions that followed the keynote, we heard from colleagues across the country who are actively working for change within their communities.  Art on Purpose and The Baltimore Museum of Art integrated exhibition artworks and ideas into experiential programs for children, homeless people, addicts, and immigrants.  In another session, educators from the Worcester Museum of Art questioned where social change fits into our day-to-day work and led a conversation about “Is Art Enough?”  How does social change fit into your world?  Can arts education impact social change?  What is the role of a museum?

At the conference, NAEA set up a studio for the presentation of current strategic planning initiatives for the organization.  Attendees were invited to participate in focus groups and also design-thinking exercises that contributed to a new vision for the association and perhaps, a re-envisioning of our field.  Other exciting announcements included a new study out about the impact of No Child Left Behind on arts education.  This nationwide study was initiated and compiled by F. Robert Sabol, PhD and is a must read!  Likewise, the NAEA Web site has information up about the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Nation’s Arts Report Card.  My advocacy brain was on high alert by the end of the conference, and I came back to Dallas anxious to follow through on a few great ideas I heard at the conference about how to be a stronger advocate for the arts in my community.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art invites high level school district administrators and principals to hold meetings at the PMA.  In exchange for free meeting spaces in a beautiful art museum, PMA educators spend one hour with the group sharing about their work with students and teachers.  At The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, educators are now working with parents to develop more advocates for the arts.

I’ll finish up with a list of selected highlights from the many sessions I attended throughout the week:

  • Artist Luba Lukova – graphic design and social justice
  • Dewey and Freire – a presentation about the influences of philosophical theory on our practice in the 21st century
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art presents: “How Working with Artists Changes What We Do and How We Do It” — on Friday, May 28 the U.S. Marines will do a weapons display in the Whitney Museum, a program suggested by artist Nina Berman to “open up” dialogue around her artwork.
  • Recreating Creativity – a panel presentation from college professors discussing creativity within various contexts: history, psychoanalysis, and philosophy
  • American Visionary Museum Director Rebecca Hoffberger delivering the keynote speech at the Museum Education Division luncheon – “Museums are at their very best when they are broadcasting inclusiveness.”  The number one educational goal of this institution: Expand the definition of a worthwhile life
  • Bumper stickers: Art Makes You Smart.  Stand Up for the Arts!
  • Rika Burnham and Elliott Kai-Kee focus on the museum educators’ struggles for interpretation – How do we use our own interpretations in our work in the galleries?

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships
(NAEA Museum Education Division Western Region Director)

The Tip of the Iceberg

One of the most popular works of art in the Dallas Museum of Art’s collection is Frederic Edwin Church’s The IcebergsAlthough there are many reasons to treasure this painting, I love the connections with science and history. 

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826 - 1900), The Icebergs, 1861, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt, 1979.28

With an interest in the 1845 Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage, Frederic Church and his friend Reverend Louis Noble set sail during the summer of 1859 on a month-long journey to Newfoundland and Labrador.  Church’s romantic notion of exploring new frontiers and recording the untamed natural world resulted in multiple sketches of icebergs.   Reverend Noble documented their experiences and published the book After Icebergs with a Painter: A Summer Voyage to Labrador and Around Newfoundland in 1861.

 Two things are evident to the observer: an iceberg is as solid as ivory or marble, and cold apparently as any substance on the earth.  This compact and perfectly frozen body, in the warm seas of summer, finds its entire outside exposed to the July sun.  The expanding power of heat becomes at length an explosive force, and throws off, with all the violence and suddenness of gunpowder, portions of the surface.  If you hear thunders, come to the iceberg then.        – Reverend Louis Noble, 1861

I can understand and appreciate their fascination with icebergs.   Here are  a few facts about these fresh water formations in the North Atlantic:

  • Approximately 40,000 medium-to-large sized icebergs annually calve, or break, off glaciers in Greenland; 400-800 icebergs make it as far south as Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
  • The age of the ice may be more than 10,000 years old. 
  • The average size is between three and 250 feet above sea level with an approximate weight of 100,000 to 200,000 tons (the weight of 20,000 school buses). 
  • About 7/8 of the iceberg’s mass is below the water.
  • The bluish streaks in the ice are from the refreezing of melted water without air bubbles.
  • Icebergs often tip over and roll as the ice unevenly melts.
  • Depending on the size, icebergs can “ground” or contact the seabed and get stuck.   

When you come to the Museum, I encourage you to wander up to the 4th floor to see this work of art.  Consider the awe and wonder of these natural formations that were observed on the North Atlantic waters.   You might want to bring a jacket or sweater in case you need to keep warm on your adventure!

Until next time….

Jenny Marvel
Manager of Learning Partnerships with Schools

For more information about The Icebergs and its history, read The Voyage of the Icebergs:  Frederic Church’s Arctic Masterpiece written by past DMA curator, Eleanor Jones Harvey.

New Resources for the Lens of Impressionism Exhibition

Travel to the French coastline through the new Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850–1874 teaching materials .   These resources include artwork information, images, and much more!     Bon voyage!

Until next time….

Jenny Marvel
Manager of Learning Partnerships with Schools

New Resources for Teachers

ATWAS Pachy imageExplore ten works of art in the new All the World’s a Stage:Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts teaching materials.   These resources include information, images, music, and  much more! 

I encourage you and your students to discover ways that these works of art communicate ideas about the power of performance.

Until next time…

Jenny Marvel
Manager of Learning Partnerships with Schools

I Want My DMA TV

DMA TV image

A recent addition to the Museum’s Web site is DMA TV,  This site stores a variety of multimedia content, like podcasts and videos, that relate to works of art in the Museum’s collection and special exhibitions, as well as public programs and community projects.   I am continually surprised by the treasure trove of information that is available and found a few gemstones that I think you might like as well.  




Just recently, more interviews with artists, dancers, musicians, actors, and scholars have been added to DMA TV in relationship to the new exhibition All the World’s a Stage:  Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts.  This site is growing by leaps and bounds!

Happy watching and listening!

Until next time…

Jenny Marvel

Manager of Learning Partnerships with Schools


Flickr Photo Stream