Archive for the 'Behind-the-Scenes' Category

Artist Interview: xtine and Sabrina

This fall the Center for Creative Connections invited C3 Visiting Artists xtine burrough and Sabrina Starnaman to design in-gallery activities inspired by unattributed works of art in the DMA’s collection. Meet xtine and Sabrina here and learn more about their thoughtful installation and activities designed to engage a larger conversation about labor.

Tell us about yourselves.
We met in fall 2016 at the University of Texas at Dallas, where we discovered a shared passion for embodiment, literature, and workers’ rights. We became fast friends and quickly set forth to merge xtine’s interventions on crowdsourcing platforms with Sabrina’s expertise in literature, history, and labor.

What motivated you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project?
xtine delivered a talk about her project, Mechanical Olympics, in the C3 Theater during Fall 2015. While at the DMA, she saw that the Center provided a space for connecting the Dallas community with local artists who could leverage the educational team at the Museum to bring engaging art to diverse audiences through interactive media formats. This was a good fit for the type of exhibition that she and Starnaman wanted to create for The Laboring Self.

Tell us how the idea of your project originated.
The Laboring Self grew out of a pilot project, Digital Korl Woman, that we developed in Sabrina’s class “Studies in Women’s Literature: Rebels and Reformers” at the University of Texas at Dallas in spring 2017. Sabrina was teaching Rebecca Harding Davis’s 1861 novella Life in the Iron Mills in class, a book about unregulated labor in a steel mill, and we saw the potential for parallels between critical issues in labor across the centuries.

We initiated an exploratory collaboration in which we asked Sabrina’s students to create a participatory project much like the one we present in the C3 space. First, students hired virtual workers to interpret a section of Life in the Iron Mills by submitting selfies to reflect the feelings that the steel worker character expressed in a sculpture he made out of waste products from the industrial processes. These pictures were then used as inspiration for  a 3-D cardboard sculpture. Finally, the students chose parts of Davis’s book that they found important and layered them on the sculpture.

We were invited to share this project and the process at a number of academic conferences, and now an article about it is forthcoming in Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy.

The Laboring Self, which centers on reproductions of human hands—workers are “hired hands” after all—grew naturally from our classroom experience and continues to evolve in ways we find exciting and will be working on for some time. We document our ongoing projects on our website, Visible Women.

What do you hope visitors will take away from your project?
We hope that visitors will see a connection between the detrimental impacts of unregulated labor in the 19th and the 21st centuries. While contemporary digital and crowdsourced work seems different from the industrial labor that became common in the 19th century, there are many parallels. For instance, workers who enter evolving industries have few protections. Laborers in the 19th century were ultimately able to address some of the exploitative and dangerous conditions in their workplace, but today’s crowdsourced laborers have few mechanisms to voice their concerns.

It is important to us that visitors to C3 have a chance to reflect on their own work experiences and how it affects their bodies. Those who are, have, or will work are as much a part of the project as the digital laborers who provided their hands and thoughts for the installation. Through the interactive aspects of our project—all of which involve using hands and words—we ask visitors to create their own “hired hands.”

hands

What have you enjoyed most about this experience?
We love the process! It is an honor to be able to realize our vision in a space that includes participants from so many different communities. While we are excited to bring our families to the tables, trace our hands, our kids’ and spouse’s hands, and make rock-rubbings of the literary quotes on a Sunday afternoon, the journey is the most enjoyable part of the experience. From the day we sat together struggling with how much we would pay the workers on the Mechanical Turk website to the day we created and hung strands of hands on the wall of the C3 space, we learned a lot about ourselves and the world we live in, while making something that engages the community where we live and work.

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Visit the Center for Creative Connections through December to participate in activities and contribute your own responses to xtine and Sabrina’s The Laboring Self installation.

Join us for a reception in the Center for Creative Connections on October 26 and mingle with C3 Visiting Artists xtine burrough and Sabrina Starnaman in C3 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Kerry Butcher is the Center for Creative Connections Coordinator at the DMA.

Exhibition Throwback

More than fifty years after their Dallas debut, several paintings by South American artists are on view at the Dallas Museum of Art. These works first appeared on the Museum’s walls in 1959 as part of the exhibition South American Art Today at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in Fair Park (DMFA). Now they reside in the terminus of the Tower Gallery, which formerly housed a portion of México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde.

Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art, selected thirty works from the Latin American art collection and private collections to fill the walls of this T-shaped gallery. The front portion of the gallery contains twenty works by artists living in Mexico from the 1930s to 1950s.

Perpendicular to this space is the high-ceilinged gallery featuring ten works by South American artists. Eight of these entered the Museum’s permanent collection following their presentation in South American Art Today—an exhibition scheduled during the 1959 State Fair of Texas, when the DMFA’s Fair Park building welcomed thousands of fair-goers.

For the assembly of the show, DMFA Director Jerry Bywaters hired Dr. José Gómez-Sicre, a Cuban art critic and writer who was the Chief of the Visual Arts Section of the Pan-American Union (now the Organization of American States). Following the end of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, public enthusiasm for international solidarity and cultural exchange increased. Though some in the United States still feared the political influences of Communist-controlled countries, Bywaters and DMFA patrons embraced the need to expand awareness of contemporary art practices in South America.

To curate the exhibition, Gómez-Sicre traveled to ten countries and selected works by seventy-one artists. Following the close of South American Art Today, the DMFA purchased sixteen of the works; another four paintings from the exhibition have remained in the collection as long-term loans.

Humberto Jaimes Sanchez, Composition in Blue, by 1959, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1959.57

The eight paintings now on view in the Tower Gallery as part of the Latin American art collection were produced by artists in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, and Uruguay. In his introduction to the 1959 exhibition catalogue, Gómez-Sicre described his intention for the works to demonstrate that “the creative talents of Latin America have acquired a world vision which enables them to express national themes in subtle accents, rather than by raw, literal reproduction.”

Today visitors can enjoy these works from South American Art Today with the benefit of hindsight on the 20th-century movements that surrounded mid-century artists. The art historical context of Abstract Expressionism is readily apparent. Color, scale, and gestural brushstrokes predominate in this throwback to 1959.

Emily Schiller is the Digital Collections Content Coordinator at the DMA.

Making a List and Checking It Twice—A Day in the Life of a Registrar

The DMA recently installed Yayoi Kusama’s All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016), one of the artist’s immersive Infinity Mirror Rooms. As its name suggests, the room features pumpkin lanterns that are reflected in mirrored panels, creating the illusion that they continue into infinity. The effect is both intimate (a maximum of two guests may enter at a time) and mesmerizing.

Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016, wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, LED, Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London, © Yayoi Kusama

A lot of planning takes place behind the scenes before works of art go on view to the public. That is where registrars (like me) come into play! Registrars (also sometimes called Collections Managers) are responsible for both the logistics and physical care of art as well as collection-related documentation.

For most exhibitions or rotations of works of art in the galleries, we’re working with multiple pieces that come together as a group; however, with installation art like Kusama’s, we need to keep track of all the details and components that make up the piece as a whole. For this project, it meant coordinating the safe transportation of the many room components and the 62 pumpkins that go into the space once constructed.

First, we double-checked that everything traveled according to the packing list and carefully examined every single pumpkin to ensure they were ready for installation. These condition reports are like an artwork’s health chart. It’s an important ongoing part of our job because a condition report records the object information (also known as tombstone data), a general description or photo of the artwork (or pumpkin in this case!), and, most importantly, a detailed summary of the overall appearance and condition at a specific point in time.

In the months leading up to install, registrars collaborate with team members in other departments to finalize the gallery layout, installation schedules, wall text (or didactics), and any special opening events. Once the installation begins, the registrar serves as air-traffic control to help make sure the team stays, to the best of our ability, on track according to the installation schedule.

Registrars also take step-by-step notes and pictures to document the process, especially for an installation like Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, which requires very specific construction. Installations can be a little tiring but the end result is so rewarding! You get to see a project come together literally from the ground up and then share it with the community.

The pumpkin-themed mirror room will be on display from October 1, 2017, through February 25, 2018, with DMA Members getting a sneak peek up until the opening (DMA Member tickets are available here). Visit our website for details and to purchase tickets: DMA.org/Kusama.

 

Alicia Chavez is the Collections Assistant at the DMA.

Artist Interview: Lisa Huffaker

This summer the Center for Creative Connections invited C3 Visiting Artist Lisa Huffaker to design an in-gallery activity inspired by a work of art on view in C3. Meet Lisa here and learn more about her musically engaging activities designed for visitors of all ages.

Tell us about yourself. (In 50 words or less)
I am a classical singer by training, but have always created visual art and poetry as well. My latest project is White Rock Zine Machine, which offers tiny handmade books of art and writing through re-purposed vending machines. I am interested in the community we form through creative work.

What motivated you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project?

Nam June Paik, Music Box Based on Piano Piece Composed in Tokyo in 1954, 1994, Vintage TV cabinet, Panasonic 10 TV model 1050R, Panasonic mini video camera, incandescent light bulb and 144-note music box mechanism, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Dorace M. Fichtenbaum 2015.48.113

While visiting the Museum, I saw Nam June Paik’s Music Box Based on a Piano Piece Composed in Tokyo in 1954. It’s an old television transformed to show a video of a music box, and it reminded me of my vending machines, which are also “communication boxes” with knobs, whimsically reinvented to give us new content. I loved the idea of exploring the relationship between these two objects, within the interactive space of the C3 Gallery, and inviting visitors to interact with and even contribute to the project.  I’m so grateful to the DMA for embracing my crazy vision!

Tell us about the process of creating your zine machine.

I found a retired baseball card vending machine on Craigslist, and transformed it.  I sanded it down to bare metal,  then used old player piano rolls as stencils to paint a pattern on the sides. I cut a hole in the front panel and covered it with glass, so we could see the zines inside. I attached Victorian-era music box disks to the machine,  including a sort of halo at the top. Then I added other objects — carved wood pieces, various metal oddities, a kalimba, gears and springs taken out of broken alarm clocks, and eight music box mechanisms, including one that plays original music composed by punching holes in a strip of paper.

What did you enjoy most about this experience?
While creating the zine machine, I really enjoyed the contradiction between noisy power tools and delicate, beautiful mechanisms! But most of all I have enjoyed the opportunity to explore certain ideas — the overlap of music, memory, and machine — and invite others to interact with the project. It has been fascinating to see the drawings and writings created by visitors in response to the music I chose for the listening station in my installation.

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Visit the Center for Creative Connections through September to contribute drawings to Huffaker’s zines and to receive a zine from the machine.

Join C3 Visiting Artist Lisa Huffaker as she hosts a series of programs in September:

Tuesday, September 5, First Tuesday: Music with Ms. Lisa; 11:30 a.m. – Noon
Friday, September 15, Late Night Tour; 6:30 p.m.
Friday, September 15, Late Night Performance with Piano; 9:00 p.m.
Friday, September 22, Teen Homeschool; 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Jessica Fuentes is the Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA

How to Install a Robert Smithson

A new rotation of artworks was recently installed in the Barrel Vault, our main contemporary art space. Included in this new installation are masterpieces by Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Hans Hofmann, as well as several newly acquired artworks. One of the highlights of the gallery is Robert Smithson’s Mirrors and Shelly Sand. The work is composed of approximately three tons of sand and 50 mirrors (glued back-to-back in pairs of two) lined up in a row, creating the illusion of infinity when you gaze into them. This engaging piece invites the viewer in and encourages interaction (but just of the mental variety—please remember not to touch!).

The piece becomes even more interesting when you know the process required to install it. It takes a lot of work and skill to transform the 125 buckets of sand and two crates of mirrors into the finished work of art. There are specific instructions from the artist on how the piece should be installed, but there will always be variances due to the nature of the materials. Thankfully for us, one of our Senior Preparators, Mary Nicolett, has installed the Smithson eight times and is a pro.

First our crew constructs a massive tent made of plastic. This keeps all of the sand contained and ensures that other artworks in the area are protected. On installation day, our stellar team of preparators (professional art handlers) put on their protective gear and prepare to get dirty. After the Registrar (me!) completes a condition report on all the mirrors, they are lined up based on the artist’s specifications and a small pile of sand is poured over them to keep them in place. Once all of the mirrors are in place, the real fun begins. Each preparator grabs a bucket of sand and begins pouring. Once all the buckets are empty, Nicolett begins smoothing the sand into the appropriate shape. At the end of the day, the dusty crew exits the tent to let the dust settle. The next day, the tent is removed and the finishing touches to the sand are completed.

Installation works like Mirrors and Shelly Sand allow our prep team to flex their creative muscles. While we do follow the instructions provided by the artist, the preparators are the ones who physically create the artwork as you see it. A good prep team is vital to any art institution as they are the ones who know the intricacies of a piece and how to safely install it. Thankfully for us, we have one of the best!

 

Katie Province is the Assistant Registrar for Collections and Exhibitions at the DMA.

Second Thursdays with a Twist

Does your typical Thursday night have the dance moves of Michael Jackson, a “potions” class for adults, a tour about beautiful backsides, live covers of the best 80s music, and storm troopers? Would you like it to? If your answer is yes, then you’re going to love our new line-up for Second Thursdays with a Twist!

All year round, every Second Thursday of the month, we are looking at our collection with a pop culture twist. If this program sounds familiar, it’s because this program is The Artist Formerly Known as Off the Wall. We thought we would change up the name, but keep the same day, same time and same fun! We are kicking off the new name and new season of themes this Thursday with Don’t You Forget About Me. The night will have all the 1980’s nostalgia you can handle, a photo booth, a Ferris Bueller themed tour and more.

We hope you all will come out and enjoy Second Thursdays with a Twist, we had so much fun coming up with ideas for these themes and we hope that you will have even more fun experiencing them!

August 10: Don’t You Forget About Me

Geoff Winningham, High School Prom, negative 1973, print 1976, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Prestonwood National Bank, 1981.36.11

September 14: Smooth Criminal

Ralph Gibson, Untitled, 1972, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant, 1977.79

October 12: Mischief Managed

Owl effigy, Arts of the Americas, 20th century, ceramic, slip, and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters, 1963.179

November 9: Who Run the World?

Anna Hyatt Huntington, Joan of Arc, modeled, 1910; cast c. 1915, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Kiest Memorial Fund, 1924.3

December 14: In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Dan Flavin, alternate diagonals of March 2, 1964 (to Don Judd), March 2, 1964, daylight and cool white fluorescent tubing, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Janie C. Lee, 1976.74.A-G

January 11: Ice Ice Baby

Frederic Edwin Church, The Icebergs, 1861, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt, 1979.28

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA

 

 

 

After Hours: Staff Art

 


Ever wanted to know more about the staff at the Dallas Museum of Art? Until November 26, After Hours: Works by DMA Staff will be on view on Level M2. The show features 60 works by 38 staff members and showcases talents from many different mediums, including video and sculpture work. DMA employees whose roles at the Museum range from gallery attendant to librarian participated in the exhibition.


David Caldwell, a Gallery Attendant Supervisor at the DMA for 5 years, created his painting Marie Madeleine En Provence Devant Un Monolithe Kubrick this year based on the story of Mary Magdalene in the South of France and the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Caldwell has a BFA with an emphasis in Broadcast/Film from SMU. When asked how his position at the DMA inspired his artwork, Caldwell said, “My role at the DMA has inspired my paintings. As a Gallery Attendant, I learned about La Pausa [the home of Wendy and Emery Reves in the South of France], the phrase means ‘the pause.’ I found out that it refers to a French legend that Mary Magdalene fled the Holy Land a few years after the crucifixion. She and her entourage were adrift on a boat in the Mediterranean. They came to shore at what is now the French Riviera in Provence. Legend has it that Mary and her friends, on their journey inland, rested in a grove of olive trees that reminded them of home. That olive grove is said to be located on the property, called La Pausa, of Coco Chanel and then Wendy and Emery Reves. I would have never known this story had I not worked at the DMA.”


Center for Creative Connections Coordinator Kerry Butcher graduated with a BFA in Studio Arts with an emphasis in photography. Butcher entered two photographs she took during a road trip to Montana with friends in 2015. Using a gently used point and shoot film camera, Butcher said, “I had the intent of really working on refocusing my eye on capturing moments that were personal to me, something I felt I had somewhat lost touch with since graduating college.”


Burdette Katzen, a Library Assistant at the DMA for 18 years, created an oil painting titled Morning in Byzantium for the show. When speaking of her work, Katzen stated, “I especially enjoy depicting ordinary women performing typical tasks during their average days. Although there are many impressive paintings of spectacular landscapes, and colorful flowers, I believe there is great beauty to be seen in the simple things of everyday life.”

On your next trip to the DMA, stop by the exhibition and check out the works created by the staff!

Samantha Nemazie is the Exhibition Design Intern at the DMA.

 


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