Posts Tagged 'teaching'



Teacher Resource: Beyond the Meme

youmustbenew[1]

January 2011

What’s a meme? The word meme comes from the Ancient Greek words mīmēma, meaning “imitated thing,” and mimeisthai, meaning “to imitate.” Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins introduced the term as a way to describe the spread of ideas and culture. Dawkins considered memes to be things such as melodies, catch-phrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches. Internet memes are similar in that they are a form of culture that spreads, however, they are purposefully altered over time and may exist in a variety of formats (image, text, hashtag, video, or gif). One of the most familiar internet memes may be Condescending Wonka. Take a look at how this meme has been altered over time:

While internet memes are creative and fun, we can push our students to use technology and social media in a more artistic way. Many of them are already using these technologies, so it’s just about giving them a little direction and guidance to go beyond their clever memes and explore their artistry in a 21st century style. Here are a couple of lessons that use Instagram as a way to explore this idea of creating and sharing digital art.

Insta Appropriation

Memes can be a fun, relevant tie in to the idea of appropriation in art history. Start a lesson discussing Andy Warhol, Sherrie Levine, or Richard Prince, then compare their processes to current memes. Let students discuss how these are the same or different. Using Instagram, take and share a photo. Let the students take turns appropriating your image, almost like a game of visual telephone. Each student will appropriate the previous student’s image, modifying it slightly. You can use a hashtag to keep track of the images submitted. A few of the DMA education staff members tried this out using the hashtag #DMAofficeAPPROPRIATION. Take a look at how our images transformed over time.

Day in the Life

This is a great way to talk about the history of photography, and specifically documentary photography. You can discuss how cameras and access to cameras have changed over time and what that means for the visual record of a culture. In the late 1800’s, few people had cameras, taking a photograph was a time-consuming endeavor, and the amount of photos taken was small in comparison to today. Now, almost everyone has a camera (on their phone) or access to one, and little time and skill are required to capture a moment. Challenge your students to become documentary photographers and really consider how the photos they take of themselves are a representation of them. Each student should take one photo a day that gives a peak into the lives they lead. This project could last anywhere from a week to a semester! Encourage students to use the hashtag #DITL followed by their last name. For example, Danielle used the tag #DITLschulz and I used the tag #DITLfuentes to document each of our lives. Take a look at some of our images:

Find us at TAEA

Want to learn more about this topic and get more lesson plan ideas? Danielle Schulz and I are presenting at this year’s Texas Art Education Association’s annual conference. The conference will be held in Dallas next month, so make sure you register soon!  Our presentation is Saturday November 23rd at 1:00 pm–we hope to see you there!

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator

Teaching for Creativity: Exquisite Corpse

At last week’s Go van Gogh training session, we decided to get everyone’s creative juices flowing with a fun warm-up exercise.  Volunteers got the chance to spend some time exploring works of art they had never seen before through a group writing exercise. During this experience, volunteers each contributed one line of a poem without knowing what the others had written. This collaborative technique was originally created by Surrealist artists interested in incorporating elements of chance into artistic expression. Known by the Surrealists as Exquisite Corpse, this activity can be done as a narrative or drawing game with several people contributing to one poem or artwork. After participating in a written version of this exercise, the volunteers were eager to learn more about the artworks they had written about. Their genuine enthusiasm and sense of wonder made me think that this could be a great way for students to get excited by works of art as well. I hope you will try it out with your students! Here’s how:

1.  Create at least one template with five lines of writing prompts. These are the prompts that we used for three different templates:

  • Noun, two adjectives, three words ending in “ing,” phrase, noun
  • One word, two words, three words, four words, one word
  • Two syllables, four syllables, six syllables, eight syllables, two syllables

2.  Divide into groups of four or five and take a few moments to look closely at a work of art (each group should look at a different artwork)

3.  Provide each participant with one template and a pencil to start

4.  Fill in the first line and then fold it so that your written response is hidden from view

5.  Pass the template to your neighbor

6.  Fill in the next line on the template passed to you, fold it, and pass again

7.  Continue these steps until all the templates have been filled out. At the end of this exercise, each participant should have a completed narrative that they can unfold and read aloud to the other writers. After reading all the templates, each small group should choose one to share with the larger group.

Here are some collaborative narratives that Go van Gogh volunteers wrote:

Starry Crown, John Thomas Biggers, 1987, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Fund

Gorgeous

Traditional

Ladies talking quilt

Stars, hats, hands, feet, toes, fingers, shine

Perfect

.

Bougival, Maurice de Vlaminck, 1905, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

A fall day in Europe

Landscape of a village

Peaceful

Sunflowers and seawater

Apples

.

That Gentleman, Andrew Wyeth, 1960, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

Somber

Serious, somber

Sitting, relaxing, contemplating

Why is he so sad?

Man

.

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

Colorful

Everyday, wedding

Marrying, dreaming, loving

A busy art building

Hope

I hope you all have as much fun with this as we did!

Hannah Burney
Community Teaching Programs Assistant

Welcome Back Volunteers!

Earlier this month Go van Gogh staff welcomed back the returning volunteers for our first training session of the year. We kicked off the day with an artist personality quiz, revealing our artist dopplegangers from the collection. As someone who has always walked to the beat of her own drum, it was no surprise that I turned out to be a Georgia O’Keeffe. Looking around the room, I noticed a good mix of rebelious Jackson Pollocks, bold and brilliant Pablo Picassos, calm and tranquil Claude Monets, and unique and inquisitive Frank Gehrys.

The rest of the day was primarily spent playing a trivia game that Melissa, Amy, and I created based on the Arts of Mexico Go van Gogh program. Picassos, O’Keeffes, Monets, Pollocks, and Gehrys were all mixed together into teams to compete against each other for the honorable title of Trivia Game Winner. With a variety of questions from true-false to multiple choice, teams had to race against the clock to form their answer before time ran out. However, not all the questions were so straight forward; the game also featured difficult bonus questions and hands-on teaching challenges that warranted extra points. Getting the players on their feet, a teaching challenge could ask the team to pose as a work of art in a frozen tableau, solve a puzzle, or lead an activity from the program as if they were teaching in a classroom. To catch a glimpse of all the fun, check out the slideshow below.

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At the end of the day, volunteers took the time to reflect on the session. Here’s how many of them described the day:

  • Lots of good high energy
  • A good refresher to the program
  • Engaging and fun, loved the game!

Teachers, don’t forget to schedule a Go van Gogh classroom visit (or two, or three…) this school year.

Hannah Burney
Community Teaching Programs Assistant

Time to Ring in the New School Year

Last week, Go van Gogh staff and volunteers celebrated the upcoming new school year at our annual welcome back party. Generously hosted by Go van Gogh volunteer Deborah Harvey, the lively group gathered at her home for coffee, snacks, mingling and a very special private art tour. Growing up, the love of art was infectious in Deborah’s family and collecting became a beloved family tradition. Today, she has an impressive collection of exquisite original works. Deborah guided us through her home with charisma and charm relating fun facts and anecdotes about each piece. Check out pictures from the festive event in the slideshow below.

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I still can’t believe that summer is already coming to an end. I guess it’s true what they say, time flies when you’re having fun! But before we all get swept up into fall, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate some of the successes of this busy, yet fun, summer.

While school was out for the summer, Go van Gogh staff and volunteers traveled all over the city, bringing interactive art programs to your neighborhood libraries, YMCAs, and Boys & Girls Clubs. Through the Go van Gogh Summer Library Program we taught at over fifty venues with a staggering total of 1,393 participants. Although library programs are recommended for ages five-twelve, anyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. Reflecting back, many volunteers have expressed how much they enjoyed interacting with entire families that included children as well as parents. Receiving positive feedback from parents, volunteers, and librarians has been a highlight of this year’s program. I have provided just a couple of these such comments below.

May Shen, Children’s Librarian at Arcadia Park Branch Librar, wrote:

The children were engaged in the museum artwork, made good observations, and had a lot of fun with their own creations.  I was thrilled to see how involved the parents were as well!”

Karen Wyll, a Go van Gogh volunteer shared:

The parents were very complimentary and so pleased to be there.  Both programs were a very positive experience for everyone, I think.”

It’s been a wonderful summer, and I look forward to a fantastic new school year.

Hannah Burney
Community Teaching Programs Assistant

Friday Photos: Summer Seminar 2012

Last Friday marked the end of Summer Seminar 2012: Teaching for Creativity, a week-long, immersive workshop for teachers of all grades and subjects to explore ways to foster creative thinking skills in their students. As a relatively fresh DMA employee, this Summer Seminar was my first. I was joined by eight educators from near and far (from Texas to Nebraska to Monterrey, Mexico!). Participants spent the week with the Museum’s resident creativity expert, Dr. Magdalena Grohman, engaging in group and independent creativity exercises, exploring creativity through art in the galleries, discussing current scholarship on creativity, and developing lesson plans to be tested in their classrooms next school year.

Thank you to this year’s participants for your insight, enthusiasm, and open-minds. Check out some of the photos from our idea-filled week.

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Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Staff Spotlight: Gail Davitt

Tomorrow will be an emotional day for Education Staff at the DMA. Our Chair of Learning Initiatives and Director of Education, Gail Davitt, is retiring after twenty-six years of service to the Museum. Throughout her tenure serving in a variety of staff roles, her main focus has never changed: creating connections between art and people. We sat down for a discussion about her amazing work with us and her plans for the future.

What originally brought you to the DMA?

In 1986, as a PhD student in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas, I participated in several independent study courses, some of which involved working with curatorial and exhibitions staff at the DMA.  Part of my coursework included a proposal for an exhibition titled “The Real Self,” focusing on contemporary artists like Cindy Sherman and Jonathan Borofsky. As part of another course, I had also interviewed Anne Bromberg, then Director of Education, who opened my eyes to the possibility of a museum education career—something I had never known existed. Although my exhibition never came to fruition, that fall I applied and was selected for a graduate education internship with Anne. The following year, in the summer of 1987, I was hired in a full time position, working initially with teachers and docents.

Gail Davitt in the American Galleries during her internship in 1986

How has your time at the DMA shaped who you are as an art educator?

Before I came to the DMA I knew very little about the type of education that can occur in museums. I had taught English and studied Art History, but didn’t feel that traditional teaching was my calling. Once I began my position with the Museum, I gained many colleagues and mentors who encouraged me to spend time with art museum education colleagues in New York and Minneapolis. Soon after, I became involved with the National Art Education Association and have been active ever since.

In addition to these colleagues, I was also given the opportunity to work with colleagues involved in evaluation and visitor studies, like Beverly Serrell and Randi Korn. Through this work, I have learned the value of setting goals and outcomes and the importance of measurement to informal learning.

There have also been times when I was on my own, able to try out and experiment with new ideas, something that has proven valuable as well. The opportunity to learn and share with colleagues and then apply what I have learned at the DMA has truly provided me with a rich environment for my own understanding of art museum education, which I hope has allowed me to encourage meaningful visitor experiences with art.

What will you miss most about the DMA?

I truly will miss all the people. I have formed such close relationships with fellow staff that it will be difficult to no longer see everyone on a daily basis.

The other big thing I will miss is hard to put into words. What I love about my job is the chance to constantly dig in deep with a project, to really research and wrestle and grapple to figure out the solutions and create something meaningful. There is always an opportunity for this sort of problem-solving process at the Museum, and I will miss being involved with those opportunities. Now my challenge will be trying to find them in other areas of my life.

Gail with DMA curators Sue Canterbury, Heather MacDonald, Roslyn Walker and Kevin Tucker.

What are you most looking forward to come June 2 and beyond?

One main thing I am looking forward to is Sunday evenings without a knot in my stomach—that sort of anxiety that comes when you know you haven’t accomplished the work you were hoping to get a head start on over the weekend.

I am also really looking forward to devoting more time to my family and friends. While I have loved my job, it has taken so much attention that my other relationships have at times come second. I also love to cook and am looking forward to nurturing my relationships through food by cooking for friends. Travel is also high on my list and now I will be able to spend more time really researching the places I’d like to visit. Currently, I am planning for a long trip to Brussels.

What is one fun fact that people don’t know about you?

I played intramural volleyball in college and was pretty good. It also provided a convenient way for me to travel from Bucknell to Penn State to visit my then boyfriend (now husband), Jim.

Gail and Jim at a dinner celebrating the DMA’s centennial in 2003.

Gail has been an inspiration to all of us in the Education Division. We will greatly miss seeing her each day, but look forward to finding new ways to continue our work with her in the future.

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

Community Connection: Ekphrastic Poetry

In honor of National Poetry Month, April’s Community Connection is Kolby Kerr.  Kolby is an English teacher at New Tech High at Coppell who incorporates a DMA visit into his creative writing curriculum.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I teach AP English IV, regular English IV, and creative writing at New Tech High. It’s a unique school and school environment.  This is my fourth year teaching, and I teach all seniors.  I graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in English and got a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from Seattle Pacific University.  I am interested in literature and creative writing and the intersection aesthetics and academics.

What drew you to New Tech High?

We are a public choice high school; students come here based on a lottery or a first-come, first-serve sign-up within Coppell ISD. We have a one-to-one technology pairing, so students have access to their own laptops and to the internet at all times.  Our curriculum is project-based; everything has to be invested in real-world, directly applicable projects.  Hopefully, that will increase students’ investment in their own intellectual curiosity.  They tell us what they need to know to complete their projects.  I have, more or less, autonomy to create my instruction around concepts and ways of life I’ve found helpful in engaging the world with the mind.

Tell us about your relationship with the DMA.

In my undergraduate degree program, a creative writing professor took us to The Art Institute.  He set us loose, told us to engage and interact with single work of art, and write an ekphrastic poem based on it.  I found the activity liberating and interesting; I don’t know much about art, but I really felt like I had an engagement with the artwork on a deeper level than I had experienced before.

When I knew I would teach creative writing, that was the first project I wanted to do.  I grew up going to the DMA with my grandmother, who was a big art-lover and always took us down there.  I came last year and this year with my students.  We started with an hour-long guided tour of highlights in the DMA collection, then I set them free.

How do you set up the assignment at the DMA?

It is fairly open-ended.  After the highlights tour, I suggest that students take an hour to narrow down four to five different works, take notes, snap a photo and journal.  Then, they spend a full hour with one piece, which forces their attention in one direction.  With constant distraction and consumer overload, writing forces you to produce something from yourself.  You can get at ekphrastic poetry from two angles – either read into the moment of the painting, which provides narrative or a character you see in painting, or take something from the painting and let it project into your own life and become a more lyrical expression.  Some poems are almost all image-driven, while some are story poems.  Either type of poem drives you back to the art and makes you want to see the art and compare the experience of the poem to the experience of the piece.

This partnership gives a sense of relevancy and authority to a field – creative writing – that sometimes feels too abstract.  Creative writing exists way off the beaten path and this assignment gives a kind of legitimacy to a culture that creative writing is not only hoping to sustain but helping to thrive and flourish into the 21st century.

How do you combine poetry and art in your assignments?

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community


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