Archive for the 'Behind-the-Scenes' Category

In Collaboration

The Center for Creative Connections (C3) has a long history of partnering with artists and organizations to create meaningful experiences for our visitors. These partnerships have taken many forms, from interactive installations and performances to hands-on workshops and classes. In fall 2016, we did things a little differently—we invited artists to propose to us programs and projects for collaboration. The education team voted to work with Janeil Engelstad, Christopher Blay, Lisa Huffaker, and the collaborative pair xtine burrough and Sabrina Starnaman in 2017. We’re excited to introduce them to you here:

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Janeil Engelstad, January–March 2017

Collaboratively and independently, Janeil Engelstad has produced exhibitions and multiform projects throughout the world. Her creative practice and community advocacy work often dovetail into work that addresses political, social, and environmental concerns through writing and the visual arts. She is the Founding Director of MAP – Make Art with Purpose, an organization that produces projects at the intersection of art and other disciplines including science, technology, education, and social justice activism. Engelstad’s projects have been supported and produced with a variety of partner organizations, including 9e2 Seattle, Art Margins/MIT, California Museum of Photography, Central European Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Dallas Museum of Art, International Center for Photography, Kunsthalle Stanica Žilina-Záriečie, Oboro/Montreál, San Francisco Camerawork, US Department of State, and others.

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Christopher Blay, April–June 2017

Christopher Blay is an artist, writer, and curator with a BFA from Texas Christian University. He runs the Art Corridor Gallery at Tarrant County College Southeast and reviews art for the Fort Worth Weekly Magazine. His work incorporates video, sculpture, and performance. His most recent work, KWTXR, is based on the fictional character Kara Walker – Texas Ranger and responds to historical violence against African Americans by law enforcement officers. Other recent projects include Cos N!&&@^$ Can’t Breathe at the Lakeview Gallery, The Seven Deadly Things at 500X Gallery, Satellites at CentralTrak Gallery, and two ongoing public art projects in Dallas’s Coombs Creek Park and East Rosedale Avenue, Fort Worth. In 2013, Blay received the SMU Meadows Museum’s Moss/Chumley Award.

Lisa Huffaker, July - September 2017

Lisa Huffaker, July–September 2017

Lisa Huffaker is an opera singer by training, but her creative practice has exploded into poetry, visual art, and bookmaking. She founded White Rock Zine Machine, offering tiny books by Dallas writers and artists, sold in whimsically repurposed vending machines. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Southwest Review, Measure, and Poet Lore. She sings with the Dallas Opera and teaches creative writing in museums, art studios, youth shelters, and libraries.

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Sabrina Starnaman and xtine burrough, October–December 2017

Dr. Sabrina Starnaman is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Literary Studies and the Acting Director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her research focuses on Progressive Era (1880–1930) American texts about social settlements and women’s activism, urbanism, and disability. Central to Starnaman’s research agenda is exploring how 19th-century activists remediated exploitative labor practices, racism, and poverty. She is interested in finding ways that their historical solutions, often implemented locally, can be brought to bear on similar problems in the 21st century.

xtine burrough is a new media artist, author, and educator. She has authored or edited several books including Foundations of Digital Art and Design (2013), Net Works: Case Studies in Web Art and Design (2011), and The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies (2015). She is the Editor of the Visual Communication Quarterly, and an Associate Professor in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at UT Dallas. Her awards include a Webby Honoree, a Terminal commission, and grants from the UK Big Lottery fund and California Humanities. Her recent projects recover feminist texts through mediation and reimagine virtual crowd workers as bodies with agency.

Upon meeting at UT Dallas in fall 2016, Starnaman and burrough discovered a shared passion for embodiment, literature, and the working class. The two became fast friends and quickly set forth to merge burrough’s interventions with crowdsourcing platforms with Starnaman’s expertise in literature, history, and labor. Together they are working on “The Laboring Self,” a project funded in part by Humanities Texas.

Check back next month for a highlight of Janeil Engelstad and the project she is undertaking during her time as a C3 Visiting Artist.

Applications for 2018 will be made available later this year.

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

2016 in a Flash

It’s been a busy year at the DMA. From the opening of Eagle Family Plaza to the hiring of Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the new Eugene McDermott Director, my cameras have not taken a break! Now, I get that this is pictures of the year, but before we get to the photos, let’s run some numbers (Because who doesn’t love math when you’re trying to look at pictures).

Since January 5, 2016, I’ve photographed between 140-150 assignments. After a quick scan of all my folders from 2016 and some elementary-school-level math, my approximate total for photos taken this year is give-or-take 20,000.

With a little help from accounting, factoring that we work about 260 days a year, that’s an average of 77 photos every day. It’s also about 150 gigabytes of data for our computer savvy audience.

Clearly, a small fraction of the frames I take actually end up being used for our publications, ads, blogs, and more, but still, that’s a lot! In those 20,000 photos are celebrities, artists, politicians, dignitaries, and of course our amazing visitors. But, as corny as it may sound, nothing makes my day more than taking a photo of a group of kids creating art in the C3, a new mom holding her baby in the Young Learners gallery, or someone with their eyes glued to a painting in the DMA’s galleries.

These images range from some of the most momentous occasions we’ve had in 2016, to some fun behind-the-scenes moments and even just some of my personal favorites. Either way, I can’t wait for the next 20,000.

Greg Castillo is the Multimedia Producer at the DMA

Sights, Sounds, and Smells

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Recently, the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections team and our Manager of Access Programs, Emily Wiskera, put their heads together to develop a new Pop-Up Art Spot with sensory-based activities. On Saturdays in December, pop in to the Museum to see Passages in Modern Art: 1946-1996 for FREE in the Barrel Vault Gallery on Level 1 and enhance your art experience.

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With these Sensory Squares, you can explore what works of art might feel like if we were allowed to touch them. Look at nearby works of art as you feel each square and consider which works you think relate to each texture.

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Check out a bag of scent bottles and a ring of art cards. Sample the scents and reflect on what memories or images come to mind when you smell them. Find each work of art on the cards provided and compare the scents to the artwork. Which scents do you connect with each work of art?

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Interested in origami? Pick up a piece of paper and try your hand at figuring out the folds Dorothea Rockburne made to create the form in Locus Series #6.

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

Sensory Sensation

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At the DMA, you can currently visit Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt, featuring works from the extensive holdings of the Brooklyn Museum. The appeal of an exhibition about both cats and ancient Egypt seemed like the perfect opportunity for the DMA to experiment with a multisensory interpretive space within an exhibition setting, essentially creating a satellite, smaller-scale Center for Creative Connections (C3). While C3 is an experimental space focused on innovative and diverse ways of interpreting a selection of DMA artworks, the Divine Felines Creative Connections Gallery is intended to contextualize the exhibition through a variety of interpretive interactives. In this space, visitors can step up to a listening station and hear tales of the Egyptian deities, sniff incenses that would have filled ancient temples, or see a real mummy and watch a film about mummification.

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This diagram shows the layout of the 1,600 square feet of gallery space at the back of the Divine Felines exhibition.

This educational gallery also provides DMA staff with insight into our visitors’ interests and preferences. The more we know about our visitors’ expectations and interests, the more equipped we are to provide them with meaningful gallery interactives. First, we keep track of the number of visitors who enter the Divine Felines Creative Connections Gallery and compare it to the total number of visitors to the exhibition. In October, nearly 70% of visitors to the exhibition entered the Creative Connections Gallery. And, interestingly, Thursdays saw the highest percentage of visitors entering the space.

Additionally, three days a week for two hours at a time, we observe visitors in the gallery to determine which activities they interact with and how long they engage within the space. To structure our observations, we created a tracking sheet (see image above) where we note participation in specific activities and the total duration of their visit to the space. Our system of tracking notes depth of engagement within an activity. For example, in relation to the short film about mummification we are curious to know if the visitor:

  • Reads the label outside of the film room.
  • Enters the film room.
  • Sits down on the bench.
  • Watches the whole film.

Finally, we ask half of the visitors we observe if they are willing to take a quick survey on an iPad. The questions we ask relate to visitors’ motivations for entering the educational space and what components visitors would like to see in future educational spaces.

So far, we’ve noticed a few interesting trends. In October, for example, the majority of observed visitors spent time looking at the mummy or Thoth sculpture and visited the scent bar. Here is the breakdown of how many visitors participated in each activity in October.
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Other data points to date:

  • Visitors spent an average of 10 minutes in the space.
  • Over 70% of visitors entered the gallery with a group; 30% were alone.
  • On average, visitors smelled 8 out of the 10 fragrances at the scent bar.
  • On average, visitors listened to 2 out of the 5 stories at the listening station.
  • Slightly more visitors picked up the all-ages self-guide than the family guide.
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*Note: Visitors were able to choose more than one response.

We would love your feedback, too. What educational tools would you like to see at the DMA?

Jessica Fuentes is the Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA. Andrea Severin Goins is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA.

A Wondrous Woven Magic

Earlier this week, the DMA exhibitions team wrapped up the installation for Art and Nature in the Middle Ages, which opens Sunday, December 4. Here, our team of skilled preparators carefully unfurl a tapestry from the Middle Ages, overseen by conservators and couriers who traveled with the art from the Musée de Cluny in Paris, France. This exhibition contains a variety of different types of objects: liturgical objects in precious metals, capitals and keystones from building structures, large woven tapestries, unbelievably detailed manuscripts including Books of Hours, and fifteen illuminated stained glass windows. It’s only on view in the US here at the DMA. We hope you’ll come see it, and us, soon.

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Skye Malish-Olson is the Exhibition Designer at the DMA. 

Building Blocks

The DMA’s M2 hallway is hosting work by the winners and finalists of the 2016 Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition, which celebrates the best in architectural delineation by professionals and students throughout the world. Averaging more than 400 entries from 25 countries in recent years, KRob is currently the most senior architectural drawing competition anywhere in the world.

Julien Meyrat, a senior designer at Dallas-based architecture firm Gensler, shared some insight into the history of this four-decades-old competition. Be sure to visit the work, on view through December 5 and included in free general admission, on your next visit to the DMA.

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What is the Ken Roberts Delineation Competition?
The AIA Dallas Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition (or “KRob” for short) is an annual event that recognizes excellence in how architecture is visualized through drawing. Organized by the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects, students and professionals from around the world are invited to submit drawings and renderings done either by hand or by digital means. Most entries are received by the competition’s official website, but people are also encouraged to deliver their submission to the AIA Dallas office. A three-person jury selected by the committee evaluates the entries for technical and expressive qualities and not for the merit of the architectural designs they illustrate. Winners are chosen for various categories: Hand Drawing, Digital/Mixed Media, Travel Sketch, Physical Submissions, and 3D Printing.

How did it get started?
Dallas architect Jack Craycroft noticed an abundance of quality perspective drawings produced by young designers who worked alongside him in the early 1970s. When he was installed as president of AIA Dallas in 1974, he decided to create a competition for Dallas-area architects to showcase their delineations that would have otherwise been given to clients or hidden in flat-file storage cabinets. He enlisted his young up-and-coming colleague Ken Roberts to lead the new committee to organize the event. It was a major success, though Roberts tragically passed away several months later. AIA Dallas resolved to make the new delineation competition an annual event, and renamed it after its first committee chair.

What has changed about the competition over the years?
Going on its 42nd year, the Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition is the longest-running architectural drawing competition anywhere. Thanks to Dallas’s supportive community of architects and faculty from the University of Texas at Arlington, the competition has served as a window into how we continue to find new ways of depicting buildings and environments. One can study how hand drawing was enhanced with a variety of physical media, how the computer enabled exponentially new avenues for visual communication, and how films and video games continue to influence the way individuals tell stories in their delineations. Eight years ago, KRob opened itself to the world, allowing individuals from over 25 countries to participate. Recently the competition added a new category for 3D-printed models, since this new media continues the critical tradition of using drawing as part of the dynamic design process. The annual exhibition that features the winning finalists is intended to convey the tremendous breadth in visual and graphic talent inherent in the art of architectural drawing.

Thomas Rusher, registered architect , Rusher Studio LLC, 3D Print, 2016

Thomas Rusher, registered architect, Rusher Studio LLC, 3D print, 2016.

Julien Meyrat, AIA, is a senior designer at Gensler. He is also a former chair of the AIA Dallas Ken Roberts Committee.

The Sum of All Parts

The DMA’s conservation team works on a variety of projects throughout the year. DMA Associate Conservator Laura Hartman shared insights on one fascinating project in the Fall issue of the DMA Member magazine, Artifacts.

Flowers in a Vase with Two Doves (detail), François Lepage, 1816–20, oli on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 2016.23.M

François Lepage, Flowers in a Vase with Two Doves (detail), 1816–20, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 2016.23.M

In 1925, Dallas philanthropist Gertrude (Trudie) Terrell Munger endowed a fund for acquisitions to the Museum’s permanent collection. For over ninety years, the Munger Fund has been instrumental in the purchase of some of the DMA’s greatest treasures across its encyclopedic collection. These include Claude Monet’s The Seine at Lavacourt, Camille Pissarro’s Apple Picking at Eragny-sure-Epte, and the important old-master painting Basket of Flowers by Osias Beert the Elder. This spring, the Munger Fund acquired another world-class work: Flowers in a Vase with Two Doves, a beautifully preserved 19th-century painting by the Lyonnais artist François Lepage. The DMA’s conservation team examined it under the microscope to study the artist’s technique a bit closer.

Exquisite in its highly polished finish and attention to detail, Flowers in a Vase with Two Doves is meticulously painted and beautifully preserved, making its examination both enjoyable and an important opportunity to see a work of art as intended by the artist. Lepage has been described as a methodical and slow painter, and it has been suggested that it took him four years to complete this work. At first glance, the surface appears smooth and highly refined, but when observed under magnification each meticulous brushstroke becomes evident, revealing a surprisingly free and painterly technique.

Droplets of water, for example, are expertly applied to petals and leaves to create a convincing optical effect. These droplets, when observed under magnification, reveal a somewhat abbreviated painting approach.

Lepage also used his brush to quite literally add texture, heightening the illusion of tactile effects. Tiny details reveal the use of linear and directive brushstrokes in dialogue with such small highlights as the textured dots found along the butterfly’s wing and at the center of the chamomile flowers.

Microscopic examination of works of art often reveals important and interesting perspectives not immediately visible to the naked eye. This type of study allows conservators to better care for each work of art, giving a fundamental look into an artist’s working techniques.

—Laura Hartman is the Associate Conservator at the DMA.

 


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