A Passion for Pachyderms

Little-known fact: September 22 is Elephant Appreciation Day. I’ll bet you haven’t celebrated it before! Well, here at the DMA, we love elephants. Dumbo, Babar, Horton–they’re all great examples of lovable elephants, but our favorite elephants live on the third floor of the Museum.

Shrine, late 18th-19th century, silver over wood, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation

Shrine, India, Gujarat, late 18th-19th century, silver over wood, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation

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This shrine was most likely used in a private home or chapel in India. Notice the intricate details on the elephants and their riders. This particular shrine is made of carved wood and covered with hammered sheet silver using a technique called repoussé. First, designs are created by hammering into the reverse side of a malleable metal. Then, the design is refined by chasing or embossing, to really get those little details to come to life.

I asked a few DMA staffers to take a good look at the shrine and then imagine what it would be like to be a part of the artwork. This is an activity that anyone can do at the DMA at our Pop-Up Art Spot around the Museum! If you haven’t already dropped by, make sure you do the next time you’re here. There are many different activities that can be done while you are in the galleries. Check out these talented drawings made at the shrine earlier this week!

Emma Vernon, Manager of the DMA Partners Program, drew herself traveling through Nepal on a very festive elephant!
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McDermott Intern Madeleine Fitzgerald drew herself into the picture.
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Sitting alongside a monkey is McDermott Intern Amy Elms.
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Our Exhibitions Graphic Designer, Kevin Parmer, chose to do his drawing in black and white.
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McDermott Intern Hayley Prihoda shows that anything is possible with her whimsical elephant.

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The next time you’re at the Museum, stop by a Pop-Up Art Spot and have some fun! It is open from noon to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekends. Also, be sure to come by and show the elephants in the shrine your appreciation!
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Hayley Dyer is the Audience Relations Coordinator for Programming at the DMA.


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