Archive for May, 2014

How Many Words Are There for “Light”

How many words can you think of that describe light? Your list can include characteristics, opposite words, and metaphors for the concept of light.

A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on its Leaves, c. 1900, watercolor on paper, The James and Ana Melikian Collection

A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on its Leaves, c. 1900, watercolor on paper, The James and Ana Melikian Collection

The exhibition Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World explores the concept of light and the many ways it is captured, studied, and featured in works of art and scientific objects from Islamic culture (nur is the Arabic word for “light”). A work of art from the exhibition titled A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on Its Leaves is currently on view in the Center for Creative Connections (C3). This painting illustrates the concept that there can be many meanings associated with a single idea. Similarly, visitors are invited to add their ideas to a growing collection of light-related words in the accompanying community installation.

Leave your ideas on what light is through the run of the exhibition, which closes on June 29.

Melissa Nelson Gonzales is the C3 Gallery Manager at the DMA.

Smartphone Learning Lab

As part of our partnership with our neighbor Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, DMA educators co-teach Learning Lab, a class for seniors in the visual arts cluster. This group of bright and talented young artists walks down Flora Street to the Museum about fifty times during the academic year. Besides spending quality time with, discussing, and responding to works of art in the DMA’s collection and special exhibitions, this year the students also had the opportunity to meet artists Jim Hodges and Stephen Lapthisophon and ask them questions about their DMA exhibitions.

For their final project, pairs of students capped off a great year of projects and discussions by creating smartphone stops for a work of art of their choosing in the exhibition Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art. They were given the option of producing a three-minute audio recording or video for their chosen work. They were asked to design their audio or video clip to either facilitate a visitor’s understanding through contextual information about the artist and his/her work, or to provide visitors with an alternative perspective or interpretation through which to view the work. They were also encouraged to exercise their creativity.

All of the pairs’ submissions were fantastic. Below are two smartphone stops created by the students:

This smartphone stop is a video inspired by Will Benedict’s 1 800 Bad Drug.

Will Benedict, 1 800 Bad Drug, 2013, gouache on board and canvas, aluminum frame with glass, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Will Benedict, 1 800 Bad Drug, 2013, gouache on board and canvas, aluminum frame with glass, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, (c) Will Benedict

This smartphone stop is an audio clip related to Sara Cwynar’s Corinthian Temple (Plastic Cups).

Sara Cwynar, Corinthian Temple (Plastic Cups), 2012, chromogenic print, mounted on Dibond, framed, Dallas Museum of Art, Susan Mead Contemporary Art Fund

Sara Cwynar, Corinthian Temple (Plastic Cups), 2012, chromogenic print, mounted on Dibond, Dallas Museum of Art, Susan Mead Contemporary Art Fund, (c) Sara Cwnar

Thanks to the BTWHSPVA Learning Lab students for a wonderful year and congratulations on graduation!

Andrea Severin Goins is the Interpretation Manager at the DMA.

Memorial Day Picnic

Happy Memorial Day from the DMA! We hope your day is full of barbequed chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, green salad, macaroni salad, and watermelon like this Bill Owen photograph in the DMA’s collection.

Bill Owens, This is our second annual Fourth of July block party. This year thirty-three families came for beer, barbequed chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, green salad, macaroni salad, and watermelon. After eating and drinking we staged our parade and fireworks., 1971, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund

Bill Owens, This is our second annual Fourth of July block party. This year thirty-three families came for beer, barbequed chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, green salad, macaroni salad, and watermelon. After eating and drinking we staged our parade and fireworks., 1971, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, (c) Bill Owens

Conservation Time Travel

Uncrated recently caught up with the DMA’s  associate conservator, Fran Baas, who joined the Museum in November. This summer, you can find her working on the 1908 Viennese Wittgenstein silver cabinet, pictured below.

FranBaas

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
My title is Associate Conservator, and I oversee the activities involved in the long-term preservation of the DMA’s permanent collection of objects and textiles. This comprehensive approach includes treatment, research, and analysis, and the preventive care of the collection.

What might an average day entail?
Each day is very different and has me running around all over the Museum. I might be assessing objects as potential loan candidates, responding to e-mails, writing reports, and doing actual benchwork. 

For example, recently, over the course of two days, I treated three plaster “pears,” dehydrated a SCOBY (a colony of bacteria/yeast that is part of a contemporary piece), conditioned silica gel, cleaned a few inches of an intricate early 20th-century Viennese silver piece, discussed with curators and collections staff the “inherent vice” of an extremely fragile piece, helped identify materials in an African headdress, and assisted in the treatment of some large oversized paintings. My job keeps me hopping across decades, centuries, and millennia . . . not to mention across the world geographically!

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
 I absolutely love my job. It’s a huge responsibility, but a privilege that I do not take lightly. The biggest challenge is never having enough time!

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
For a long time, I struggled with where I fit. I am very “left-brained, right-brained,” as they say. Not only do I love working with my hands and looking at art, but I love science and the process of discovery. It took me awhile to find a profession that combines art and science. Conservation is a field where I get to do my favorite things in an effort to preserve art and artifacts for future generations to appreciate. I have the best job in the world.

Do you have a favorite work in the DMA’s collection yet?
As cliché as this sounds, I fall in love with whatever piece I am currently working on. Getting to work with a piece up close, in conjunction with the material analysis and background historical research, allows me to really “get to know” a piece . . . and as a result fall in love.

What are you looking forward to in your future here at the DMA?
I look forward to getting to know each and every object and textile in the DMA’s encyclopedic collection!

The Museum is History

This weekend, explore works from the Museum’s modern and contemporary collection in a new installation by the DMA’s new Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Gavin Delahunty. The Museum Is History: Modern and Contemporary Art from 1950-1990 installation, featuring work by Jackson Pollock, Atsuko Tanaka, John Chamberlain, and more, will be on view through November and it is included in the DMA’s free general admission.

 

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The Forecast Calls for Stars

Before there were Xboxes and smartphones, TVs and radios, and even theater and literature, people sought entertainment in other ways. Among those activities was the experience of star gazing. The endeavor was a social one, often involving conversation and the creation of folklore around oddly shaped objects that observers conjured up in the stars above.

Though the same stars hang above us today, those interpretive experiences are few and far between. But a group of graduate students from the University of Texas at Dallas are working to change that. Their interactive activity, the Constellation Game, brings back the experience of campfire conversation and celestial storytelling. Visitors, or “players” of the game, are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild as they use a motion controller to “draw” their own constellations in a projected night sky. They can even invent their own myths around their creations.

Constellation1

This Friday, we’re excited to have the Constellation Game set up on our Ross Avenue Plaza for our monthly Late Night. In preparation for Friday night’s activities, we took the opportunity to ask Spencer Evans, the lead programmer behind the experience, a few questions about the Constellation Game.   

How did you come up with the idea for the Constellation Game?

SE: In many ways, the idea we initially came up with is actually far off from what we have now. It was a very vague idea that evolved organically, and was refined based on players’ impressions and our realized goals. We are big fans of games that fit in the play space between arcade, art gallery, and museum exhibition pieces, and we wanted to create something in that same space. We are also very passionate about storytelling and mythology, and we wanted to revive that act of storytelling around shapes perceived in the stars, which seems a bit lost and forgotten today. To that end, it was also important to us to create an accessible interface and interaction that people today can understand.

How does the experience work?

SE: The core player experience is to create and draw constellations in an almost connect-the-dots like way in a shared space. Players do this with a motion controller while lying down, looking up at the stars of our night sky projected onto the ceiling, and discussing with others the meaning of the shapes created. Our design was focused on storytelling, social interaction, and creative expression. And, we strove to create an experience that closely resembles the relatable, perhaps nostalgic, real-world act of lying down outside and pointing up at the stars. We feel this is something that comes through in the way players interact with it, and the immersive atmosphere we try to create.

Constellation2

What have you learned by watching visitors interact with the installation?

SE: We have learned that it is very much a group experience, not just the one or two players currently interacting with it. It is the audience participating as well. Everyone tends to explain or argue about the shapes they are seeing, and share their personal interpretations that they, and others, have made. We have learned that players tend to enjoy exploring the star-field—the space in which they can draw constellations—before they create their own. They want to see what others have created first, and see which star clusters or historical constellations they recognize.

Constellation3

If you want to make your own constellations, you can play the Constellation Game between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. this Friday. We’ll also have numerous other activities, performances, tours, lectures, and more! Find the full schedule here.

Betsy Glickman is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA.

 

World War I Through the Eyes of Käthe Kollwitz: One Hundred Years Later

A new installation in the European Works on Paper Gallery contemplates the life and work of the German artist Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945). For Germans born in the latter half of the 19th century, life was in a constant state of chaos. Immigration to America was at an all-time high, and World War I would soon be on their doorstep only to be followed by the destruction of World War II. For Kollwitz, the impact of these grave events became the inspiration for her artwork.

Käthe Kollwitz, Self Portrait, 1927. Lithograph, 12 5/8 x 11 ¾ in. (32.068 x 29.845 cm.), Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg, 1953.37

Käthe Kollwitz, Self-Portrait, 1927. lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg

As a graphic artist and sculptor, Kollwitz was widely popular in Europe and America throughout her long life. Kollwitz had always been drawn to representing the working classes. But it was with a cycle of six prints documenting the Weaver’s Revolt of 1844 that she achieved instant fame. The DMA owns the last two prints in the series, Revolt and End.

Käthe Kollwitz, Revolt (Sturm), 1897. ink and etching on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg

Käthe Kollwitz, Revolt, 1897. ink and etching on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg

Käthe Kollwitz, End (Ende), 1897. aquatint and etching on paper, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg

Käthe Kollwitz, End, 1897, aquatint and etching on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg

Together these works document the uprising of peasant workers and the resulting death and destruction. This series was so popular that Kollwitz was awarded a gold medal at the Great Berlin Exhibition of 1898, but the Prussian emperor Wilhelm II refused to award it to her, fearing her striking images would spark rebellions among the working classes. Nevertheless, it was this subject matter that would carry throughout her life’s work. She became dedicated to advocating for the lower classes and the downtrodden in society.

After the war, Kollwitz created many lithographs of women and children, such as Bread! and Hungry Children. These images were widely popular and circulated throughout the country. Kollwitz intended to draw attention to the starving working class and the impact of World War I on the nation.

Käthe Kollwitz, Bread! (Brot!), 1924. lithograph, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg

Käthe Kollwitz, Bread!, 1924. lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg

Käthe Kollwitz, Hungry Children (Deutschlands Kinder Hungern!), 1924. lithograph and ink, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg

Käthe Kollwitz, Hungry Children, 1924. lithograph and ink, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg

These two works were reprinted nearly a decade later. During World War II, Bread! was published in the National Socialist women’s magazine, Warte, as pro-Nazi propaganda, with the forged signature of St. Frank. Kollwitz was outraged, as she was a staunch opponent of Nazism and another world war. The United States appropriated Hungry Children as a propaganda poster to encourage rationing for the war effort.

After Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945), Brot!, reprinted by the Nazi Party in NS Frauen Warte, the National Socialist Women’s Paper, photo credit Elizabeth Prelinger, Käthe Kollwitz (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1992), pg. 122. After Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945), Ask the Women and Children Whom Hitler is Starving Whether Rationing is Too Great a “Sacrifice,” 1942-1945, Photomechanical print, 55 ¾ x 39 13/16 in. (141.6 x 101.2 cm.), National Archives at College Park, MD, ARC Identifier, 513836

After Käthe Kollwitz, Bread!, reprinted by the Nazi Party in NS Frauen Warte, the National Socialist Women’s Paper, photo credit Elizabeth Prelinger, Käthe Kollwitz (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1992), pg. 122. After Käthe Kollwitz , Ask the Women and Children Whom Hitler Is Starving Whether Rationing Is Too Great a “Sacrifice,” 1942-45, Photomechanical print, National Archives at College Park, MD, ARC Identifier, 513836

The works are currently on view in the Museum’s European Works on Paper Gallery on Level 2 and are included in the DMA’s free general admission.

Update September 5, 2014:
Listen to an interview with Michael Hartman discussing the exhibition on Tyler Green’s The Modern Art Notes Podcast here.

Michael Hartman is the McDermott Intern for European Art at the DMA.


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