Posts Tagged 'volunteers'

Friday Photos: Merci Beaucoup!

Over the last few months, we grew quite fond of Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and his Contemporaries here at the DMA and were sad to see it go last Sunday. Our Poster Studio in particular was always such a lively space, full of creative visitors designing their own posters inspired by the exhibition. We wouldn’t have been able to offer this engaging activity without the help of our amazing volunteers, both new and experienced. Their contributions made the Poster Studio a reality and we are so grateful for their support!

As a final adieu, I wanted to share some fun and amazing facts about our Poster Studio:

  • Number of Posters Created: 7500
  • Number of Dry Erase Markers Used: 646
  • Number of Hours Volunteered: 773

And the title of Most Valuable Volunteer goes to Chuck D’Arcy, who volunteered a whopping 74 hours of his time. Thanks to Chuck and all of our other volunteers–we couldn’t do it without you!

For a full size view of the Poster Studio, click through the above images. C’est magnifique!

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

Paris Calling!

Calling all art enthusiasts!

We are in need of volunteers for a hands-on, art-making area in our Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec & His Contemporaries exhibition.

During the run of Posters of Paris: Toulouse Lautrec and His Contemporaries (on view through January 20, 2013), the Museum is offering a drop-in art-making activity within the exhibition gallery space. For the activity, visitors create their own posters using text and images from the exhibition. Poster-makers layer text and images in between layers of acetate and trace their compositions with dry erase markers. After completing poster designs, visitors bring their finished product to a volunteer, who photocopies the image, creating an 11”x17” poster.  Visitors receive a copy of their posters to take home and the Museum keeps a copy to hang in the Poster Studio space.

Poster Studio volunteers will be on their feet, interacting with visitors, making copies, and stapling posters onto the wall in the space.  Shifts are two-hours in length during open hours.  Volunteering in the Posters Studio is a fun way to spend two hours of your day—when I work the space, I usually have time to create a poster myself.

We are in great need of volunteers to help during the final weeks of December.  As our way of thanking you for volunteering, we will provide all volunteers with an extra ticket to the Posters of Paris exhibition.

For more information about being a Posters Studio volunteer, or to sign-up for a shift, please visit our website.

Happy Holidays,

Amy Copeland
Manager of Go van Gogh Outreach and Community Teaching

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



Ladies talking quilt

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



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

A fall day in Europe

Landscape of a village


Sunflowers and seawater



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


Serious, somber

Sitting, relaxing, contemplating

Why is he so sad?



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


Everyday, wedding

Marrying, dreaming, loving

A busy art building


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: Thank you, Go van Gogh Volunteers!

As the school year draws to a close, it is important for us to recognize the commitment and devotion of our wonderful Go van Gogh volunteers.  Every spring, we organize a special field trip or party to celebrate our volunteers.  Last Friday, we were fortunate to have a behind-the-scenes tour of the Wyly Theatre, led by Dallas Theater Center Director of Education and Community Enrichment Rachel Hull.  Rachel fascinated us with interesting facts about the Theatre and its innovative engineering and productions. Afterward, we walked over for a delicious lunch at The Commissary in One Arts Plaza.  We are lucky to have such delightful neighbors in the Arts District!

Standing in the wings onstage

In the costume room

THANK YOU, Go van Gogh volunteers, for another successful school year!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Meet Our New Go van Gogh Volunteers

So far this month, we have introduced you to our new docents and our new interns.  I am happy to feature another group of friendly faces this week – our new Go van Gogh volunteers.  We have fifteen new volunteers this year, which may be our largest class in the past ten years.  I am excited about the range of backgrounds, experiences, and interests this enthusiastic group brings with them.

The volunteers show off their creations during their training for the African Masks and Headwear program .

Below are some fun facts about our volunteers starting with the bottom row, left to right:

  • In addition to having a Nursing degree, Gio also loves to paint and has produced more than 100 drawings and paintings in his free time.
  • Stephen’s passion for art and design, as well as his belief that volunteering makes a positive impact on the community, inspired him to volunteer along with his girlfriend…
  • …Dorly, who comes to us with a degree in Art and Performance, which will definitely come in handy in the classroom.
  • Mary is currently pursuing a PhD in Art Education at UNT and was also an education intern at the Rachofsky House this past summer (where I met her, and recruited her after she kindly encouraged me during a challenging studio art activity).
  • Michele also has a Nursing degree, and has pursued a great many other things including designing jewelry that has been sold nationwide, making a teaching video for developing countries, and writing a feature article for a major magazine.

Top row, from left to right:

  • Pam owned a window treatment business in the NYC tri-state area before recently moving a stone’s-throw distance to the DMA.
  • Sarah is part of a ceramics co-op that provides opportunities to join other artists in creative pursuits.  She originally became interested in Go van Gogh ten years ago and decided this was the year to join the program!
  • Sandy recently moved to Dallas from the Houston area after teaching language arts for fifteen years, during which she often incorporated works of art into her students’ assignments.
  • Jennie was recruited by two friends who are Go van Gogh volunteers and told her how much they loved the program.
  • Doris also recently moved from Houston, where she gained extensive art education experience in Houston ISD and museum education experience as a docent at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
  • Barbara retired earlier this year after a career in Occupational Therapy, and one of her three goals for post-retirement is “finding ways to give back to the local, national, and/or world communities through volunteerism”.

Not pictured here:

  • Cristina is fortunate to work at a company that encourages volunteering, and will adjust her work schedule to accommodate her love of children and desire to “share with them the joy and excitement of art”.
  • Recently retired from Dealey Montessori, Dennis is finding his schedule to be full of his favorite pursuits, which include acting and playing chess.
  • Erin earned a degree in Studio Art and has experience in painting, sculpture, printmaking, pottery, and graphic design.  Like Cristina, Erin works full time and is adapting her schedule to volunteer with Go van Gogh.
  • Jane served as a docent at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art, and also led art appreciation classes in her children’s classrooms as a parent volunteer.
  • Laura has a degree in fibers and printmaking and has worked with homeschool students to make costumes and stage props.

Be on the lookout for these volunteers as they begin teaching in Dallas classrooms over the coming months!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Cruisin' in the Go van Gogh Van

You may have noticed the colorful Go van Gogh® van driving around town and wondered to yourself, “Is that van as fun to ride in as it looks?”  The answer is “Yes!”  Catching a ride in our van is easy: just sign up to be a Go van Gogh volunteer.  Volunteers are trained by Museum staff to lead interactive conversations and art activities based on works of art in the DMA’s collections and special exhibitions.  Taking these programs into classrooms throughout Dallas is a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved, including the students, teachers, and volunteers.

A volunteer teaches fourth graders in a Dallas ISD classroom.

But you don’t have to take it from us that volunteering with Go van Gogh is a wonderful experience.  Kari Laehr, who just completed her first year as a volunteer, recently shared this with us:

“Working with the Dallas Museum of Art’s Go van Gogh Outreach Program has been a great pleasure.  Every program that I have taught has been not only exciting for the students, but for me as well.  There is something extremely special about sharing my passion for art with youngsters, and I consider it a great honor to represent the museum in this way. I was very nervous during my first teaching session; however, having that one “light bulb” moment with a student during the art-making process makes everything worthwhile in the end. In fact, I have heard numerous times in my class, “This is the best day ever! When are you coming back?” I feel that what I am doing with the Go van Gogh Program is making an impact in Dallas classrooms and would highly recommend this experience to others.”

Volunteers discuss a work of art during training.

Afterward, they perform a short skit inspired by the work of art.

Do volunteers need to have teaching experience?  No.  Do they need to be art history experts?  Not at all.  The two primary requirements for our Go van Gogh volunteers are (1) an interest in sharing works of art with students in grades 1-6, and (2) a commitment to attend volunteer training at the Museum and present programs in Dallas schools during weekday mornings.

If you are interested in volunteering, please complete and return the volunteer application by Friday, August 5, 2011.  Help us spread the word to any friends who may be interested as well.  You can also contact me with questions about the programs at 214.922.1230 or

I look forward to hearing from you!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Community Connection: Eye-opening, Enlightening, and Fabulous

Some of our devoted Go van Gogh volunteers have participated for many years, so we design special workshops for them with the goal of making connections – with works of art, with fellow volunteers, and with personal teaching experiences – in fun and fresh ways.  These themed workshops often feature guest speakers, such as local artists or our colleagues in the education department.   

Our last workshop focused on the theme “PLAY”; you can view pictures from the workshop in our intern Karen’s photo post.  We invited Leticia Salinas, the 2009-2010 McDermott Intern for Family Experiences, to lead conversations and activities with volunteers in front of works of art entirely in Spanish.  Volunteers commented after the workshop that their experience with Leticia was “eye-opening”, “very valuable”, “helpful”, “enlightening”, and “fabulous”.

Leticia leads the Paint the Town DMA Summer Art Camp.

Tell us about your connection with the DMA.

I’ve been in Dallas for about ten years, and during college I visited the DMA every now and then and attended Late Nights.  Last year, I was the McDermott Intern in the Family Experiences department.  I continue to help during Late Nights and other special Family Experiences programs. 

What are you doing now?

I am a Special Education Bilingual Teaching Assistant at Thomas Elementary in Plano ISD.  I help teachers in classrooms with special education and/or bilingual students, primarily kindergarten through second grade. 

Describe your session with Go van Gogh volunteers.

I gave two tours in Spanish focusing on Jackson Pollock’s Cathedral and three hats in the African collection.  This helped volunteers put themselves in the position of ESL students and also showed them effective ways of teaching these learners.  Hopefully, the volunteers were able to gauge how these students feel and will be able to use that knowledge as a tool when they teach.  It was a really great experience, and I enjoyed it.  The volunteers were all very willing to participate even though it was a different language and they may have felt uncomfortable.

What do you consider important when working with ESL students, and how does this apply to teaching with works of art?

When working with ESL students, there has to be something more than language.  You have to be really creative and think of different ways to teach a subject.  This applies to all subjects.  I think art is a great way to teach ESL learners because they have a visual picture of what you’re talking about.  You can get creative and lead activities that are more hands-on and fun, playing with color and lines and movement.  All of those concepts are easy to teach to students who don’t speak English fluently.

Finish this sentence: In ten years, I’d like to be…

I hope to be at a place where I’m happy with my job and I love what I do, whether it be working in a museum or with kids or doing something totally different that I never thought I would do.  Hopefully, in ten years I’ll have it all figured out.

Go van Gogh Stays to Play

Last Friday, Go van Gogh staff  led a “play” workshop for our volunteers. This session led volunteers into the galleries to discuss and interact with works of art in a creative and fun way. Volunteers  posed as the objects, created a yarn painting similar to Jackson Pollock’s Cathedral, as well as experience several discussions led in Spanish. A former McDermott Intern, Leticia Salinas, who facilitated the discussions, demonstrated various hand gestures and other techniques that could be utilized when facilitating programs with students who speak languages other than English.

The fun did not stop there! Volunteers used materials from the space bar in the Center for Creative Connections to create art, then continued their play session in the Tech Lab. Go van Gogh is an outreach program that brings the Dallas Museum of Art to 1st through 6th grade students in schools throughout North Texas.   Allowing the volunteers to play was a unique approach of seeing the artworks in a new way and re-igniting the volunteers’ energy, enthusiam, and  passion for teaching. 

Karen A. Colbert
Teaching Programs Intern

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