Posts Tagged 'teen programs'

The Art of Teen Leadership

If you’ve ever attended one of our free summer programs for families, you’ve probably met a Teen Ambassador. The Teen Ambassador Program has been around in some shape or form since 2001, providing fun and interactive experiences to thousands of visitors each summer.

Teen Ambassadors volunteer at the Museum for a short period of time, but they’re at the Museum a lot between June and August. Our 2018 class volunteered over 560 hours in 2018! In just two and a half months, participating teens get comfortable with their voice, learn how to be a good team member, and become experts in the DMA galleries. They truly embody what it means to be a leader—but what does leadership mean to a Teen Ambassador?

For participating teens, leadership is more than just having confidence. “A leader is not about someone in charge that you have to listen to,” one Teen Ambassador said. “It is about someone who takes initiative. If they find a problem they work with it. [They are] not afraid to make mistakes [and] learn from them.” Another Teen Ambassador described a leader as someone “who can take control of the situation and lead others onto a good path. A leader is always kind and has good integrity.”

Many Teen Ambassadors feel that a real leader is someone who listens to and respects others. While a Teen Ambassador can confidently stand up and give a tour to a large group without breaking a sweat, most find themselves learning how to communicate with others and be themselves. “I’ve learned how to make others feel welcome,” one Teen Ambassador reported at the end of last summer. “I was able to break out of my shell to connect with more people.”

Inspired by these teens’ experiences? Applications for the 2019 Teen Ambassador Program are now open! If you’re a teen who is at least 14 years old and interested in getting involved at the Museum, find out more by clicking here. Applications are due on Sunday, April 28.

Jessica Thompson-Castillo is the Manager of Teen Programs at the DMA.

The Making of “Teen Renaissance”

When the DMA Teen Advisory Council (TAC) re-convened for this year’s session, we started our first brainstorming exercise with the question we ask ourselves every year: what do we want the Dallas Museum of Art to be for teens? While the answer we ultimately arrive at takes a different form, the teens always think of inventive new ways to create a space for their peers.

A Teen Advisory Council meeting in session

This year, the conversation revolved around teen artists. Council members know that young people in DFW have a lot to say, and use their talents to express their ideas. To give these talented artists a space to be heard and recognized, TAC decided to launch Teen Renaissance, a new student art exhibition inspired by the innovation and unique perspectives of their generation.

In developing the open call, TAC settled on the theme of “Your Personal Lens,” inviting teens to submit artworks that shared their interpretations of the world. A whopping 195 students submitted their artwork for consideration, representing more than 15 different schools around the Metroplex.

TAC members making curatorial decisions for the Teen Renaissance art installation

While narrowing down so many submissions was difficult, TAC specifically looked for artworks that could speak to each other. We looked at all the submissions together, finding common themes and works that would be cohesive when viewed together. The council went through three rounds of elimination before deciding on the final 15 works on view at the Museum.


TAC members discussing and planning for Teen Renaissance

So how do teens see the world? This year’s Teen Renaissance shows us that being a teen is a lot about what’s happening on the inside as young people start creating a place for themselves in the world. For many teens, their personal lens is their cultural heritage, and how multiple identities merge and balance to create a unique individual. For others, their personal lens is the complicated journey of growing up, finding a world view that’s authentic to them, and creating meaningful relationships with others.

Join the Teen Advisory Council on Saturday, March 16 for Your Personal Lens, an all-day celebration of the exhibition and teen talent throughout Dallas!

Teen Renaissance is now on view through March 28, 2019, on Mezzanine 2, next to the Mayer Library.

Jessica Thompson-Castillo is the Manager of Teen Programs at the DMA.

D2R 2.0

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Disconnect to Reconnect’s open-mic poetry slam.

Last Thursday, our Teen Advisory Council took over the Museum for their second Disconnect to Reconnect night for teenagers. Seeking ways to make the DMA more accessible and fun for their peers, Council members created Disconnect to Reconnect to encourage visitors to put away their cell phones and engage with the art and each other.

For this iteration of D2R, the Council wanted to highlight local teens, inviting musicians, filmmakers, thespians, and writers to shape the event with their talents and interests. Musical acts R.A.G. and Aloe Sara provided a soundtrack for the evening and a rotation of student films screened in C3 Theater, while C3 Visiting Artist Lisa Huffaker led a zine-making workshop related to her work on display at the Museum. The Council presented an escape room-style mystery in the Reves Collection, and hosted an open-mic poetry slam in the Museum’s Barrel Vault galleries. Teen Ambassadors were also there to lend a hand, making this Disconnect to Reconnect a true team effort.

I caught up with a few Teen Advisory Council Members, as well as a few assisting Teen Ambassadors, at a planning meeting before the big day to ask them about their goals and the planning process.

Q: What activity has been the most fun or challenging to plan?

“The Reves Murder Mystery was probably the most intense activity to plan.” Emma, Teen Advisory Council

“There were so many things that went into it. We had to research the history of the Reves collection, come up with a story, and find actors.” Claire, Teen Advisory Council

“I think that the process of constructing some kind of murder mystery-type scenario is a lot more involved than you might think, just because you want to know how the crowd will respond and a lot of thinking goes into it. But I think it will be really rewarding!” Anastasia, Teen Advisory Council

Q: Why do you think it’s important to have programs like this for teens at a museum?

“Going to art museums is seen as an old person thing to do, but if there are programs for teens, it shows young people that there are things for them to do here too.” Shirui, Teen Advisory Council

“I think that teens are just as interested as older people, they just don’t know the museum is an option for them to be interested in going to, so if we have programs specifically for teens, it makes it a better place to be.” Anastasia, Teen Advisory Council

“I feel like teens aren’t given a platform to express themselves in a way that’s official or endorsed, so usually teens have to start from scratch and overcome a lot of challenges if they find a place where they can. It’s really nice to have a place that wants to hear what you have to say and a place for you to say it, and share that with others.” Claire, Teen Advisory Council

“It’s also a place for different kinds of people to be united under one umbrella and become a community, and meet people with different experiences than you.” Wolfgang, Teen Ambassador

Q: What do you hope visitors take away from Disconnect to Reconnect?

“I hope it inspires them to share their life and experiences more – maybe sharing it more with people, face-to-face, instead of just on social media.” Claire, Teen Advisory Council

“I hope that people leave knowing that the DMA is for anyone and everyone, with any interest – it’s not just about art! We have a lot to offer.” Tori, Teen Ambassador

“I hope they take away some sort of connection and know that there are things for them here at the Museum. Museums are not some sort of elitist, high-society places, and we do have programs and activities for all ages. There’s a spot and a place here for them.” Arik, Teen Ambassador

After six months of planning, Disconnect to Reconnect went off without a hitch. Over 250 teens participated throughout the night! We’re very proud of the Teen Advisory Council, and look forward to what they will bring to the Museum next.

Jessica Thompson
Manager of Teen Programs

Teen Time

It’s a Thursday night at the DMA, and conversations fill the galleries. A group of friends joins a discussion led by a Visiting Artist, who is hosting a workshop later that evening. Total strangers are chatting in front of their favorite work of art, bonding over shared thoughts and interests. A great band is playing in the Center for Creative Connections, and a small crowd is jamming along with them. Upon closer inspection, all of these visitors are teenagers, and – remarkably – there’s not a cell phone in sight!

This is the vision of the DMA’s Teen Advisory Council, a group of highly motivated students from around Dallas-Fort Worth. Since 2013, the Council has worked with DMA Education staff to develop programs and activities for visitors. If you’ve attended a Late Night in the last few years, you’ve likely experienced their work firsthand. From scribbling robots to life size board games, they never fail to creatively interpret the Museum’s collections and exhibitions in new and exciting ways.

This year, the Council has turned their focus toward their peers in an effort to share the Museum with their fellow teens. At a brainstorming meeting earlier this year, the discussion turned toward a common stereotype of young people: that they are glued to their cell phones 24/7. There are benefits to being connected all the time. In my experience, teens today are much more involved and knowledgeable about current affairs than I was at their age, thanks in part to having information so easily accessible. However, teens know there are consequences: a friend is just a text away, but so are bullies, school pressures, and global politics.

Because Teen Council members are at the Museum so often, they know it as a place where they can take a break from being connected. It’s a place where they can learn at their own pace, find calm within themselves, and open up to new perspectives and experiences without being judged. To share that feeling with others, the Council has worked hard planning Disconnect to Reconnect, a night of free, fun activities for teens.

Disconnect to Reconnect invites teens to discover what the DMA can offer them, from solving an Escape Room themed after the history of the Reeves Collection to creating art with Visiting Artist Lisa Huffaker in the Center for Creative Connections. The Teen Council also invited teens to showcase their own talents – the two musical acts of the evening, R.A.G. and Aloe Sara, are high school students, and short films made by local teens will also be playing in the C3 Theater. All of the Council asks is that visitors be fully present, with cell phones silenced and put away while participating.

We hope you’ll be able to join us this Thursday, July 20th for Disconnect to Reconnect from 5:00-9:00 p.m.!

Jessica Thompson is the Manager of Teen Programs 

Try This: Drawers and Describers

It’s spring time, which means that the Learning Lab is back in session. The Dallas Museum of Art has partnered with Booker T. Washington HSVPA since 2011, providing an ‘ideas class’ for junior and senior year students. This year, students are working on an arsenal of professional writing to grow their careers as artists. By the end of the semester, students will have their first artist statements, resumes, personal essays, and curated portfolios ready to submit to colleges and opportunities beyond high school.

For people who interact with the world primarily through visual means, expressing yourself through words is easier said than done. We’ve taken advantage of the Learning Lab’s time in the Museum to get them thinking and verbalizing their thoughts about art in nontraditional ways. However, these activities aren’t just for artists—anyone can use them in the galleries! Here’s a game for you to try next time you visit the DMA.
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This gallery game is a favorite here at the Museum! All you need is paper, a pencil, a friend, and your vocabulary to get started. Before walking into a gallery, choose which person will be the drawer, and which person will be the describer. dd2
The describer will choose a work of art in the gallery to describe, while the drawer, back turned toward the artwork, illustrates their partner’s description. The describer should be as specific as possible! Think about what you’re seeing: is it a portrait or a landscape? A bed or a chair? Is the tree at the top or the bottom of the painting?
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Once the describer is finished, the drawer will turn around to compare their drawing to the real work of art. This activity often has funny results, but it also tests your powers of interpretation! As a describer, how well were you able to describe the work of art in front of you? Is there anything you missed or something you could have described in different terms?dd4

As the drawer, what kind of information would you need to more accurately represent the work of art described to you? Did you need information about expression, location, or pose? Sharing feedback with each other expands your art vocabulary and your visual literacy. For both artists and art appreciators, this is a great exercise in expanding your visual literacy! Check out some more examples below:

And don’t miss student work from Booker T. Washington and other DFW High Schools at Young Masters, open through April 16.

Jessica Thompson
Manager of Teen Programs

A Night of No-Phone Fun

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A few of our dedicated Teen Advisory Council Members showing off their moves at Late Night Creations!

The DMA’s Teen Advisory Council has been hard at work brainstorming new ways to connect our visitors with our collection and exhibits. You may have already experienced their handiwork for yourself: from Late Nights to alternative bite-sized tours, members of the Council never cease to amaze with how creatively they interpret works of art at the Museum.

This year, the Council is taking a deeper, experimental approach to making the DMA a comfortable place for visitors–especially teens–to be themselves. In an initial brainstorming meeting, the Council reflected on the stereotype that millennials are connected 24/7 to technology: that they can’t put their phones down and prefer texting over face to face conversation.

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However, teenagers know that always being connected has consequences. While their friends are always a text away, they’re also connected to people and things they wish they could get away from. Leaving school for the day will not keep a teenager safe from bullies anymore. Apps allow teachers to text students after hours and on weekends. Young people are bombarded constantly by international tragedy and injustice on their social media feeds. Constant access to technology leaves teenagers without a safe space, so the Teen Advisory Council decided to create one.

On January 5th, they hosted Disconnect to Reconnect, an event that encouraged visitors to put away their cell phones and engage with the art and each other. Council members designed activities to encourage conversation and reflection. Visitors started dialogues on our atrium tables, and contributed to a zine that reflects their personal aesthetic.

The Teen Council also led their own tours, scavenger hunts, and workshops. True Colors tours took visitors on a journey of self-discovery with artwork that shared their personality, while Kendra Greene’s Spoken Word workshop used art as a catalyst for poets to say something about themselves.

Watching the Teen Council plan Disconnect to Reconnect has been an amazing experience. The programs presented at the event were written entirely by Council members and required minimal staff feedback or oversight. During the planning process and the night of, they had to make decisions about content and logistics that would be difficult even for adult educators – and handled it all with their typical optimism and cool. We’re very proud of them, and can’t wait to see what they do next!

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If you or a teenager you know is interested in volunteering at the DMA, more information is available on our website. And don’t miss the Teen Advisory Council at Late Night Creations this Friday, February 17!

Jessica Thompson
Manager of Teen Programs

He(ART) History

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My name is Kenzie Grogan, and I am a senior at Lake Highlands High School. This year, I was accepted into the Professional Internship Program at my school. PIP is designed to give seniors experience in the career they are interested in pursuing in college. During my junior year, I ultimately decided that I wanted to focus on art history and see what a degree in it could lead to in the real world. Art has always been an area of interest for me, and history has always been my favorite subject in school. So, I figured why not give art history a try and see if I like it?

My internship began in September and I was extremely nervous. I was shocked when my teacher told me that I was placed with Teen Programs at the DMA – I wasn’t expecting to be placed at a museum. Throughout my internship I got to participate in a variety of programs, from helping paint a canvas for Dallas Pride and assisting with Family Workshops, to helping with Arts and Letters Live and getting to see Cary Elwes.

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Since I worked with Teen Programs, a lot of my time was spent helping prepare for Teen Tours on Thursday nights, and even assisting in writing a few of them. Researching the Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck opened my eyes to the incredible symbolism in the painting. It was the first time in my life where I actually wanted to study something more. I ended up teaching part of the Renaissance tour, which was a little intimidating. Let me tell you, the teenagers who go on the Teen Tours know their stuff! It wouldn’t surprise me if some of them could get up and teach the tour themselves.

When I wasn’t working on Teen Tours, my time was spent working on my official research project: an interactive teen guide for the Museum. The DMA has a series of self-guided tours for families and adults, but it lacks one specifically for teens. What better way to make a tour for teens than to have one design it?

Since my internship has been all about art history, I wanted my teen guide to reflect that experience. Narrowing down the art I wanted to use was difficult, but I chose what I felt best represented a broad range: Renaissance, Impressionism, Cubism, American, and Surrealism.

The next step was researching and writing the informational parts that would go into the final tour guide. As I began writing, I saw a universal theme throughout the paintings: each painting represented a new genre that went against the popular art style of the time. Because artists rebelled against society in their own way, I decided to call the guide Rebels With a Cause.

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All of the tours at the Museum have some sort of interactive aspect about them, whether it be prompts for drawing or questions to answer. Since music and art are my favorite things, I decided I wanted to create a playlist that represents each piece in the guide. This way, teens are able to connect with the painting using two senses. For anyone without an electronic device, there are other ways to interact with the art, like taking a selfie with Frida Kahlo or using color swatches to notice new colors in a painting.

Participating in this internship has been the best experience of my high school career. I’ve learned so much in the short amount of time I was here, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with so many amazing people. I can now say I plan to study art history in college because I’ve seen first-hand all the different careers it can lead to. I’ve loved getting to come to the Museum, and I definitely plan to come back and volunteer as much as I can.

Be sure to check out Rebels with a Cause at the DMA this spring and check how other teens have left their mark at the Museum!

Kenzie Grogan
Teen Programs Intern


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