Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Whether you set specific goals for 2014, or are just considering ways to give back to the community, the C3 Volunteer Program may be right for you. Center for Creative Connections (C3) volunteers help visitors to enjoy and explore the Museum’s collection and interactive activities, both in the C3 and in our collection galleries.
The first question I ask myself when I wind up somewhere new is “Where is the art?” The Dallas Museum of Art has been the best answer I’ve found to that question in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
During my first visit to the DMA, my sister and I spent over an hour in C3. We were excited by how the Museum valued a space for visitors to not just observe art objects but respond by creating as well. The people at the DMA are aware that the Museum contains worlds to be found, and they encourage exploration with self-guided tours that focus on a particular theme or subject in various areas of the collection. As my personal take on these tours, I sometimes give myself drawing assignments in order to absorb what’s on display more fully, often surprising myself with what I can notice if I really look.
Recent changes with the DMA’s return to free general admission and the launch of DMA Friends have removed barriers and made it easy for visitors to gain rewards based on a point system. Volunteering brings its own rewards (such as free parking and free admission to special exhibitions and events) as well as 500 points for every shift. Naturally, I’ve enjoyed these perks, but volunteering has been rewarding enough in itself.
Although the Museum isn’t exactly close by for me (I currently live south of Fort Worth), I’ve always found it to be worth the trip. I applied to be a volunteer this past summer, looking for a way to better connect with artistic circles. My monthly shifts have given me a recurring reason to visit the Museum, and volunteering with C3 has provided an energizing platform for interacting with visitors through art. Even though I spend a large portion of my time making art, being in the Museum (and especially in C3) gives me a unique chance to see how art is received by a wide variety of people. School groups, individuals, adults and children, those who have studied art and those who haven’t—everyone who comes into C3 has a different reaction to the art and the hands-on activities available.
I’ve particularly enjoyed volunteering at the Pop-Up Art Spot, a compact cart stocked with simple activities that shows up in different galleries each week. It’s a nice oasis in the galleries and brings creative connections to people who wouldn’t seek out the main C3 space. I’ve been able to win over a number of visitors who seem unsure about participating in an activity (usually “I can’t draw” or “Isn’t this for kids?”) but then find themselves thoroughly enjoying it. Because I’m usually drawing or working on activities myself, I often have conversations with visitors about my own art. I’ve even had a few requests to prove my abilities by drawing portraits of the visitors or popular cartoon characters. These experiences in the C3 Gallery and Pop-Up Art Spot are perfect proof of the DMA’s belief that an art museum shouldn’t be just a building full of objects but a place where art happens.
If you are interested in becoming a C3 volunteer, request an application here. The application deadline is Friday, January 10.
Kenton Visser is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and has lived in Crowley, Texas, since 2009. In addition to volunteering, he works as an illustrator, studio assistant and certified framer. His portfolio can be seen on his website.
Melissa Nelson Gonzales is the C3 gallery manager at the DMA.