Urban Armor is the Dallas Museum of Art’s unique, ongoing program for tweens and teens that offers students a chance to meet, relate, and investigate the world around them. Classes are designed in a way that the concept of identity is the heartbeat of each workshop. Urban Armor classes serve teens, who represent an often underserved age group in museums and are at a critical age of self-discovery.
Each workshop is built around the concept of identity. The name Urban Armor is inspired by the Karel Funk painting Untitled #21, currently on view in Variations on Theme: Contemporary Art 1950s-Present, and the notion that we clothe ourselves in physical layers of clothing to protect us in a literal sense against the elements but also as a metaphorical means of protection. It could be to guard ourselves against the scrutiny of others, attempting to fit in, or wanting acceptance. In a similar way, the different faces we present to others depending on the environment can be seen as figurative armor to serve the same purpose. Who are we underneath these layers? That question drives us to help support teens through the program and to facilitate transformative experiences with art that allow for personal expression. They also learn new techniques, meet artists and DMA staff, and develop social bonds through their interactions with each other.
This year, Urban Armor launched its first exclusive teen summer camp in an effort to provide teens with a way to enhance their world and the space around them. Students encountered new forms of expression with the assistance of our Urban Armor teachers and guest artist Isaac Davies. They contributed to a large community “piece” on Ross Avenue Plaza, worked on their personal expression and self-statements in their sketchbooks and on their own painted panels, and explored how artists express themes of identity and space in artworks throughout the DMA’s collection.
Regardless of diverse opinions about street art, everyone can agree that it is a public way people are communicating or expressing themselves in our city. It is common now to see a tag, sticker, mural, or art bomb on any given street of Dallas. With heavy influences from artists like Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Shepard Fairy, Banksy, and the many unnamed artists on every wall in town—it is important to recognize street art’s strong influence on our culture. For today’s generation, this is a prevalent force in their lives and a heavy part of their visual culture.
Watch participants from the summer camp Urban Armor: Street Art Camp and guest artist Isaac Davies as they demonstrate learned techniques from their camp experience tonight during Late Night at 7:00 p.m.
Amanda Batson is the Program Coordinator for the Center for Creative Connections and JC Bigornia is the Coordinator of Family Experiences.