Posts Tagged 'teacher'

Back to School: 2016 Fall Teacher Programs

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Arthur John Elsley, Hard Pressed (Any Port in a Storm/Late for School), 1898, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Kim Jordan.

Calling all teachers! We hope your back to school experience bears no resemblance to Arthur John Elsley’s Hard Pressed (Any Port in a Storm/Late for School), so we’d like to help you start the year off on the right note! Check out our Teacher page to discover upcoming opportunities and helpful tips for incorporating the DMA into your lesson plan this year.

We offer a wide variety of resources for educators including information on K-12 Student Visits, Gallery-Guides, Teacher Resources, and more. Be sure to peruse the Types of Student Tours we offer, to get a better idea of the opportunities available to you and your students here at the Museum. As you’ll notice, we’re offering a new STEAM tour this year! You can also schedule a Docent-Guided Tour or a Self-Guided Visit of upcoming special exhibitions, Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt and Art and Nature in the Middle Ages. Helpful tip: be sure to submit your request at least three weeks in advance of your visit to see a paid exhibition for free!

Interested in visiting the Museum with your fellow teachers? You can schedule a Teacher In-Service here at the Museum, or register for an upcoming Teacher Workshop (more on that below!) We’re always looking for new ways to support and celebrate educators, so please be sure to sign up to receive our emails and check the box for Information for Teachers to stay connected.

Here at the DMA, we’re looking forward to the opening of the claw-some new exhibition Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt on Sunday, October 9, and we want educators to take part in the fun with a Teacher Workshop. The exhibition explores the role of cats and lions in ancient Egyptian mythology, kingship, and everyday life, featuring material from the Brooklyn Museum’s world-famous Egyptian collection. Our workshop on Saturday, October 22, will provide educators with the opportunity to enjoy the exhibition before public hours while learning strategies to teach, interpret, and use works of art in the classroom and Museum galleries. Register here–What more purr-suasion do you need? Space is limited, so sign-up right meow!

We look forward to seeing you and your students at the DMA this fall, and we wish you a smooth start to the new school year!

Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

DIY Coil Basket Weaving

Each month, we offer a variety of activities at the large tables in the Center for Creative Connections gallery. Each activity is related to a nearby work of art. One of my favorite new activities is coil basket weaving, inspired by the storage basket, bowl, and burden basket created by weavers from the San Carlos Apache tribe.

The actual materials used to create these baskets–devil’s claw, willow, cottonwood, and buckskin–are natural resources found in the Arizona region where the tribe resides. To make the materials more pliable, they are often soaked in water prior to weaving. The patterns are created by alternating dark and light.

IMG_2431In the gallery, we use three colors of raffia ribbon to create our coil baskets. Red is easily distinguishable, so these strands create the basket core which will be covered during the weaving process. Then tan and black raffia are used to wrap the core and create patterns.

Once you have your materials in hand, here are the steps to guide you through the process:

 

 For your basket core, cut the red raffia into ten 24 inch long strands.

For your basket core, cut the red raffia into ten 24 inch long strands.

 Choose a tan or black strand of raffia and wrap it tightly around the red basket core strands.

Choose a tan or black strand of raffia and wrap it tightly around the red basket core strands.

Cover about two inches of the red basket core, then begin spiral the wrapped end inward

Cover about two inches of the red basket core, then begin to spiral the wrapped end inward.

Continue spiraling so that the wrapped strands resemble a snail shell.

Continue spiraling so that the wrapped strands resemble a snail shell.

Take the end of your tan or black raffia strand and loop it through the spiral to secure the basket center.

Take the end of your tan or black raffia strand and loop it through the spiral to secure the basket center.

Continue to wrap the red basket core.

Continue to wrap the red basket core.

Each time you cover a few inches of the red basket core, thread your tan or black raffia through the most recent coil to keep the coils connected.

Each time you cover a few inches of the red basket core, thread your tan or black raffia through the most recent coil to keep the coils connected.

If you want to switch colors, cut a strand of the alternate color.

If you want to switch colors, cut a strand of the alternate color.

Line your new strand up as if it was part of the red basket core.

Line your new strand up as if it was part of the red basket core.

Secure the new strand by wrapping it a few times with the old color strand.

Secure the new strand by wrapping it a few times with the old color strand.

Let the old color strand become part of the red basket core, and use the new color strand to wrap around the basket core.

Let the old color strand become part of the red basket core, and use the new color strand to wrap around the basket core.

Continue wrapping the basket core, securing the newly wrapped coil to the previous coils every few inches.

Continue wrapping the basket core, securing the newly wrapped coil to the previous coils every few inches.

Once you get the coil weaving technique down, think about experimenting with other materials. The Apache weavers used devil’s claw, willow, cottonwood, and buckskin because they were plentiful resources. What kinds of resources do you have at your disposal to weave?

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Manager

 

 

Take a Summer Safari at the DMA

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This year’s class of teen docents.

This summer, bring your summer school students and summer campers to the Dallas Museum of Art for a tour led by one of our teen docents! Our docent-guided tours allow students to form meaningful connections with works of art through close looking and interactive gallery experiences, including sketching, writing, group discussion, and more. Teen docents conduct summer tours for young visitors (ages 5-12) all summer long, during which they encourage critical and creative thinking while addressing all learning styles. If you are interested in scheduling a guided tour with one of our teen docents, the process is easy!

Step 1: Visit www.dma.org/tours. This page includes information about fees–FREE if you are an educational organization and scheduled 2-3 weeks in advance!

Step 2: Click on Docent-Guided Tour Request Form, making sure you already have a few dates approved for a visit.

Step 3: Choose whether you would like the “Animal Safari” tour or the “Summer Vacation” tour.

  • On the “Animal Safari” tour, students will set off on a safari to search for animals in works of art. They will think about how animals look and what they might mean and symbolize in works of art from all over the world.
  • On the “Summer Vacation” tour, students will travel the world without ever leaving the Museum! They will think about how they spend their summer vacation and make connections between their favorite summer activities and those they see in works of art.

Step 4: Choose a date and time. Docent-guided tours are only available in the summer on Wednesday and Friday between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. We can only tour 30 students every hour, but feel free to split them between a few hours! For example, half the students can tour at 11:00 a.m. while the other half explore our collection in small groups or eat lunch in our Sculpture Garden.

Step 5: Once the form is submitted, you will be added to our schedule in the first available time and day.

We have lots of room left in our schedule, and our teens are ready to show your students their favorite pieces! We hope you join us for a Safari or a Vacation soon!

Madeleine Fitzgerald
Audience Relations Coordinator

Of Golden Axes and Tulips: Some Thoughts on Teaching Iconography in the Galleries

British Museum: Hollow lost wax casting in gold of a bead in the shape of an axe (akuma), Asante, early 19th century, Purchased from Crown Agents for the Colonies, 1876

A few months ago, I had the great pleasure of spending some time chatting with Dr. Roslyn Walker, the DMA’s Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific.  In the course of our discussion, she told me about an event that occurred in 1881 called the “Golden Axe Incident.”  The Asante People of Ghana sent an official delegation to the British-controlled Cape Coast because a refugee from their city had fled there to claim British protection. The Asante arrived to demand the refugee’s return, bearing a ceremonial Golden Axe. The British interpreted the axe as an explicit symbol of warfare, and suddenly, the threat of war loomed much to the Asante’s surprise. Only when the Asante later sent their most experienced official to deliberate was the Golden Axe’s meaning clarified to the British authorities: the axe symbolized the desire to cut away all the blockages on the path to settlement–it is, essentially, a diplomatic symbol.

I was fascinated by this story, because it shows how the misinterpretation of the cultural meaning of an image–its iconography–nearly resulted in war. Iconography is about explaining what symbols and imagery in a work of art meant to people at the time of its creation, understood through careful research into the historical context of not just that artwork, but a culture’s visual language. And while iconographic misreadings are usually not this fraught, I confess to sometimes feeling wary of how to present such information while teaching in the galleries.

Iconography is privileged knowledge. It is usually only understood by experts after laborious study, research, and careful analysis. Such knowledge is part-and-parcel of art historical practice, but can be tricky in gallery teaching. As Rika Burnham in Teaching in the Art Museum attests, iconographic information is often exactly what audiences and students are seeking, and offers momentary insight and relief, but usually stops any discussion or further analysis.

And in many ways, this is what iconography is meant to do–it’s not our cultural or individual interpretation of what a symbol means, it’s what it meant at the time of creation. This can be a difficult set of knowledge to tease out through discussion, although by no means impossible.

But when to introduce iconographic information during the course of learning?  Ideally, the need to raise what certain symbols and images meant is prompted organically in the course of a discussion, but how much information should the teacher offer?  If we open the floodgates, pour forth all the information we know for every symbol, we risk that sense of closure and discovery we want to carefully allow students to explore on their own. If we offer too little or carefully selected iconographic details, we risk, at the very least, presenting a stilted understanding of what the artwork might have meant historically.

I was thinking of these questions when standing before Jean Marie Reignier’s Homage to Queen Hortense, featured in the Museum’s new special exhibition, Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting From Chardin to Matisse.

Jean Marie Reignier, Homage to Queen Hortense, 1856

Jean Marie Reignier, Homage to Queen Hortense, 1856, Credit: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Inv. A 2896

As part of a beautiful exhibition of floral still-life, this grandiose painting stands out (it’s nearly seven feet tall and five feet wide): a lush garland of flowers surround a sculpted bust of Napoleon III’s mother, Hortense, atop which sits an eagle bearing an olive branch.

These details–the portrait bust, the eagle, the olive branch–as well as the scale of the painting tantalize us that despite the floral imagery, something else is going on here. For me, it would be easy in the context of the exhibition to dismiss these and focus on a comparison of this with the other floral still-lifes in the exhibition…If it were not for the seemingly unavoidable depiction of a paper label at the upper right bearing the number “7824189,” placed just under the eagle’s left talon. This numerical notation must have a specific meaning, right?

Thus we begin down the rabbit hole of the complex iconographic meaning imbued in this painting. Some symbolism here is relatively common, such as the olive branch as a symbol of peace. As the mother of the leader of France at the time (Napoleon III came to power in 1852), this homage to Hortense is rife with political and personal symbolism, ranging from the inclusion of red tulips (at the upper right) as symbolic of Hortense’s title as Queen of Holland and violets and bees (towards the lower left) as Napoleonic symbols, to the palette held by the figure (to the left behind the portrait bust) as indicative of Hortense’s own practice as a floral painter. And that number? It is supposedly the number of votes cast for Napoleon III in the election, securing his victory and rightful leadership of France.

I’ve learned all of this iconographic meaning from a wonderful series of lectures and trainings Dr. Heather MacDonald, the DMA’s Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art, has offered to the public, staff, and docents since the exhibition’s opening. And the symbolic understanding of Reignier’s painting offers a wealth of insight into aspects of how imagery worked as political propaganda in France at the time, even as this painting avoids many of the traditional symbolic tropes common to floral painting up to this point in history (the memento mori and cycle of nature suggested by wilting flowers, for instance). It is also helpful for understanding the intentions behind this painting: as a “statement” painting, this artwork was meant to elevate floral imagery to the same level as other academic painting approaches that relied on the human figure.

The “privileged” nature of iconographic meaning is a slippery slope in gallery teaching. And while I don’t think every painting that is iconographically rich necessitates a discussion of such iconography when teaching in the galleries, I can’t help but feel that here, that tag with painted number on it, likely forces an educator’s hand while teaching before it, or a painting like it.

How do you handle iconographic analysis when teaching in the galleries or your classrooms? Leave tips, thoughts, and feedback in the comments below!

Josh Rose
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Friday Photos: Educator Block Party 2014

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My colleague and office pal Amy Copeland and I had the pleasure of spending Thursday evening at the Meyerson Symphony Center for this year’s Educator Block Party. Over twenty cultural institutions participated at this event, including the Sixth Floor Museum, the Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Dallas Holocaust Museum, to name only a few! It was wonderful getting a chance to chat with teachers, administrators, and homeschool instructors from around the Metroplex over the course of a relaxing evening. If you missed it this year, we hope to see you at the gathering next time around!

Josh Rose
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Measuring the Immeasurable

In January 2014, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) launched a series of activities which take place at a large table in our gallery space.  Each activity is related to a work of art in the C3 Gallery and offers resources to assist in visitors’ creative process.

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  •  The Portrait Drawing activity, which focuses on two portrait paintings by William Henry Huddle (Old Slave and Self Portrait), includes mirrors for self-portraiture and facial proportion handouts.
  • The Hybrid Drawing with Light Boxes activity, which focuses on The Minotaur by Marcel Dzama, includes four large light boxes and printouts of works of art from the Museum’s collection so that visitors can combine human and animal figures to draw a hybrid creature.
  • The Patterns with Felt Triangles activity, which focuses on Starry Crown by John Biggers, includes 9×12 inch black felt backgrounds and a colorful assortment of small felt triangles that visitors can use to create patterns similar to those represented in the painting.

After each of the three activities had a one month trial period, we felt certain that they were successful, but wanted to learn more about why and how these activities were successful.  As art educators, we know intrinsically that experiences with art make a difference in people’s lives.  Yet, when we are asked to prove this it can seem an unattainable task.  Proving the importance of art education is perhaps made even more daunting in an informal learning environment where visitors come for various reasons, but generally not to be quizzed about their experiences with art.  So, we sought advice from our evaluator to determine goals, indicators, and potential interview questions for each activity and immediately set to the task of measuring the immeasurable.  Since April, we have observed and interviewed participants at the gallery table each Saturday from 1:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.  During that two and a half hour block of time we have found the following averages:

  • Portrait Drawing– on average 23, adults and 18 children participated; visitors spent about 13.8 minutes drawing with times ranging from 1 – 30 minutes.
  • Hybrid Drawing – on average 27 adults and 36 children participated; visitors spent about 10 minutes drawing with a time range of 1 – 50 minutes.
  • Patterns– on average 11 adults and 9 children participated; visitors spent about 7 minutes creating patterns with a range of 1 – 33 minutes.

Though these averages tell us a lot about how much time people spend and how many people engage in our activities, the most interesting aspect of this evaluation has been hearing our visitors’ feedback and seeing the images they post of their work on social media.

Visitor Feedback:

“Well, it’s like… it’s fun.  Like drawing before was so serious and it had to be perfect, cause you were doing it for a grade.  But this is just for enjoyment.”

“I’m guessing this was made for children? It’s fun and different and I didn’t expect to see this here. Yeah, it’s like that spark of creativity, kind of… childlike.  I didn’t think I’d spend as much time or get into it like I did.”

“People think patterns have to be rigid, like red, yellow, blue and then repeat, but by playing with this you can be more creative.”

“This is more interactive than other galleries. [In] the other galleries you’re just looking, but here you get to do something.”

“I like to do the activity because it gets the kids interested in art, and if I do it, they’ll probably want to try it too.”

“It’s nice to make everyone focus.  I would have never gotten him [points to husband] to do this at home.”

Through this evaluation we have come to better understand our visitors’ habits and motivations. For example, we found that most visitors do not read instructions.  If the instructions are read it is only the main text at the top of the document that catches a visitor’s eye.  This could be because these activities tend to attract visitors who prefer some amount of active doing or making rather than passive looking.  Furthermore, visitors will spend more time participating in activities that provide seating and social interaction.  Regarding motivations, we found that visitors who participate in these activities are likely to have some underlying interest in the media or subject matter presented.

As we move forward and continue to develop activities for the gallery table we will take these lessons into consideration.   We will make our instructions more concise, we will offer activities that involve a social component, and we’ll branch out to include a variety of media so as to appeal to visitors who are interested in diverse artistic processes.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator

 

 

2012 Summer Seminar for Teachers

2011 Summer Seminar Participants

Imagine yourself among a group of educators — spirited, inspiring, trusting, supportive, and innovative — all focused on creativity and the nurturing of students. Now imagine this group immersed in the creative environment and resources of the Dallas Museum of Art for one full week.  This is the Summer Seminar experience for teachers at the DMA, and we’ll be hosting the 2012 Seminar June 11-15.  We invite you to join us!

Teaching for Creativity reached beyond my expectations by exploring how to consider attitudes, ideas, and associations I may have discarded or not considered before this class.  – 2011 participant

Designed for teachers of all grade levels and subjects, Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity explores education and creativity through experiences in the DMA’s galleries and Center for Creative Connections. The course references creativity from a variety of perspectives, and participants engage in readings about creativity from various authors, including Robert Sternberg, Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Through conversations and workshops centered on creative attitudes and thinking, the Seminar supports teaching skills and approaches that foster imagination, curiosity, an open mind, and a natural drive for creating in students. UT Dallas professor Magdalena Grohman and DMA staff lead workshops and gallery experiences.  Participants reflect on and further develop their own creativity, as well as focus on how to teach for creativity.

I will use the tools in order to push myself further with my projects, rather than staying in [a] comfort zone.  – 2011 participant

This definitely helped me tap into more creative thinking. The exercises and activities were very helpful.  – 2011 participant

2011 Summer Seminar gallery experience

Throughout the Seminar, the DMA galleries serve as a kind of laboratory space, in which we consider the creative process and relate creative thinking techniques to specific works of art. In-depth experiences with art cultivate our abilities to observe, envision, express, explore, engage, and understand  in the arts and other disciplines. Through these experiences, we may become more persistent, flexible thinkers, better problem explorers and problem solvers—overall, more creative beings.

Unlike most professional development, the focus is not on ‘making a better teacher’ but on providing good teachers with better tools to bring out the best in their students.      – 2011 participant

The one-week Summer Seminar experience serves as a catalyst for an extended relationship between participating educators and the DMA as we continue the dialogue about education and creativity throughout the academic year.  This blog is one venue for the continued dialogue — view posts from a series titled Teaching for Creativity to learn more and hear about the creative journeys of several educators in the classroom.  The blog post this Thursday will feature 2011 Summer Seminar participant, Lorraine Gachelin.

Registration for the 2012 Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity is currently open. For more information, please contact Andrea Severin at aseverin@DallasMuseumofArt.org.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships


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