Archive for the 'Center for Creative Connections' 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.

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.

Linear Perspectives: Creative Discovery with Lines

Some great new additions to the Center for Creative Connections have sparked new ways for visitors to think about and interact with artworks. In the Young Learners Gallery, the newly redesigned space has concentrated our visitors’ focus on lines. Visitors use the pegboards to create symbols, images, words, and phrases that are outlined by stretchy fabric pieces. We’ve been snapping some shots of our favorites we’ve seen so far:

Visit the Young Learners Gallery in the Center for Creative Connections and discover how you can use lines creatively!

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

Telling Stories

The DMA has enlisted the help of C3 Visiting Artist Ann Marie Newman to reimagine five Egyptian stories. Each story depicts Egyptian deities, many of which are represented in the upcoming exhibition Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt. Newman’s take on these stories will be available at a listening kiosk in the educational space of the exhibition. Before you visit, learn a little more about Ann Marie Newman and her process.

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Tell us a little about yourself in fifty words or less.
I am a creative dreamer, storyteller, and artist. Using various materials and techniques, my sensory-rich, interactive stories are a unique fusion of colorful characters, improvisation, and fine art–inspired visuals. My love for people, stories, and art is made manifest through my life’s calling to be a storyteller, a “story sharer”!

How did you become interested in writing and storytelling?
In a purely organic way! I’ve always loved stories, hearing them told orally when I was small, and later, reading them in books. Being an intensely curious person, I discovered that folktales, legends, myths, and personal tales illuminated and helped me better understand the world and its people. Writing came about naturally as I embraced my creative need to tell the stories and to share my joy, love, and respect for them with others.

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Describe your process of reimagining the Egyptian stories for the Divine Felines educational space.
It starts with research: reading three or more versions of each myth, studying the images and descriptions of the gods and goddesses, looking at maps of Egypt, noting cultural details. I jot everything down in a mess of chaotic writing only I can decipher—LOL!

Then it’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, except I don’t have a picture on the box lid to use for a guide. Instead, I create a movie of the myth in my mind. I look at all the pieces and select a starting point, a dramatic statement that allows the story to unfold. During the movie, I note how I feel emotionally, how my body feels, what senses are awoken. If something doesn’t “feel” right, I go back and reimagine it until it does. The ability to daydream is huge for me, and I like best to do it in cozy little coffee shops for some reason. All these tales were written, except one, in a quaint little coffee shop along the Truckee River in Reno, Nevada.

Which story is your favorite and why?
Pick a favorite!?! I love them all. Under the surface of these myths lie deeply symbolic meanings and analogies about the human condition.

Take the myth of Sakhmet for instance. Sent by the gods to punish mankind, Sakhmet is the embodiment of the ferocious lioness on a hunt. Her destructive nature knows no constrain; she quickly begins exterminating mankind from the earth. She is eventually stopped, tricked by her own gluttony. She passes out cold. Upon awakening, she immediately falls in love with Ptah, a god whose name means Life and Stability. She forgets her past, marries Ptah, and they give birth to Nefertum, whose name means Mercy. Thus, Sakhmet’s destructive ferocity disappears when she embraces life and stability, and this brings mercy. The insightful wisdom in this myth makes it a favorite of mine.

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What did you enjoy most about working on this project?
Discovering the powerful, protective, clever “superwomen” goddesses of ancient Egyptian mythology. I have been a storyteller for over twenty years, and somehow I’d missed these amazing myths about strong, heroic women. They deserve more attention, and I am a very happy storyteller who can do just that.

I should also mention a cat owns me. His name is Leonidas and he is king of our home. After working on the myths, I enjoyed becoming more appreciative of his cat characteristics. He is a male, but he inhabits all the good traits of the goddesses, and even a few of the not so good, but he is still simply divine.

Visit Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt, on view October 9, 2016, through January 8, 2017, to see more than eighty objects featuring domestic cats, feline deities, cat burial practices, and luxury items decorated with feline features, as well as a small section on dogs. Be sure to stop in and listen to Ann Marie Newman’s reimagined Egyptian stories in the educational space.

Stop by the October 21 cat-themed Late Night for lectures and programs related to Divine Felines. Ann Marie Newman will perform stories of Warrior Goddesses of Ancient Egypt at 7:30 p.m. in the C3 Theater.

And mark your calendars for the upcoming Divine Felines–themed Gallery Talks by Dr. Anne Bromberg, The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art; storyteller Ann Marie Newman; and Aditi Samarth, Professor of Humanities.

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

Fairground Count Down

This Friday marks the opening day for the State Fair of Texas. As you countdown the days and plan your visit, get your fair-fix by stopping at the Center for Creative Connections (C3) to view these recently installed photographs by Texas based photographer, filmmaker, and journalist Geoff Winningham.

These are part of Winningham’s photographic series, “A Texas Dozen.” In total, twelve of the fifteen photographs from this series are currently on view at the DMA.

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

North Texas Giving Day

No one has ever become poor from giving. —Maya Angelou

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Have you ever wondered how the DMA can offer free general admission to its collection and many of its educational programs? The answer is simple—it’s because of you!

Once again, it is time to band together for one exciting and enormous day of giving. On Thursday, September 22, every gift made to the Dallas Museum of Art will receive matching funds for our work in the community, which will help us continue to provide free access to 5,000 years of human creativity.

To help us gear up for this special day, visitors gathered in our Center for Creative Connections to make buttons showing how or why they give back to the community. They were then encouraged to leave a button for someone else and take one that spoke to them. It was a fun—and meaningful—project!

We are always so proud to see our galleries full of art enthusiasts of all ages discovering the joy and wonder of art. Mark your calendar now for North Texas Giving Day and make your donation on September 22!

Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA. 


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