Archive for the 'Center for Creative Connections' Category

The Creative Spiral

The creative process is often described as cyclical, and sometimes, when I’m in it, I feel like I am going around in circles, ending up where I started. I always hope that when I come back around in that circular process, my ideas have evolved so that even though I may be in a familiar place, I am truly somewhere new. Perhaps the creative process is more like a spiral, repetitious yet constantly moving forward. This concept not only illustrates an important artistic process that we want to share with visitors to the Center for Creative Connections (C3) but also describes the methods we employ as our space evolves. The creative process is an inspirational component of C3, and it is exemplified through the Art Spot, a hands-on art-making area.

A Brief History


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In 2008, the hands-on art-making area within the C3 exhibition Materials and Meanings was called the Materials Bar, which provided a hands-on experience of the creative process, engaging visitors with an inspiration wheel, videos that modeled techniques, materials that encouraged play, and a reflective label writing component. In 2010, C3 presented its second exhibition, Encountering Space, which involved a complete redesign of the entire C3 and transformed the Materials Bar into the Space Bar, which included prompts for the hands-on art-making experience. In 2012, the hands-on area was renamed the Art Spot: Anytime art-making for everyone, and it focuses on rotating works in the C3 galleries or the idea of creativity.

Commonalities and Spiraling Forward
For me, the creative process can be simplified to four steps: inspiration, exploration, creation, and reflection. With each iteration of the making area in C3, we come full circle. We start with an idea—a theme like materials, space, creativity, or a work of art; next we explore the possibilities of that idea and play with what it might look like; then we construct it for visitors to experience; and finally we reflect on the actual visitor experience. Over the years, the various iterations are in many ways similar, but with each new endeavor we learn and revise.

Martin Delabano's Family Portrait behind sea of visitors

Martin Delabano’s Family Portrait behind a sea of visitors

In the past, we strived to inspire participants with the art on view in C3, though we found this can be difficult when the works of art are not directly adjacent to the making area. In the upcoming redesign, we are installing more works of art in the Art Spot and are strategically placing them near the tables where participants will be creating. The cases housing these works will have prompts directly on the glass to provoke thought and discussion about the materials, design, and process. These kinds of prompts can help visitors get into the making mindset, a way of critically looking at and exploring materials.

Also, our approach to choosing works of art has shifted. In the past, we chose works of art that exemplified a concept and might inspire visitors to create. This time we are taking our inspiration from our visitors. Over the past few years, we have documented the kinds of creations made at the Art Spot. We know that regardless of the theme or materials, there are common items that are made: rings, animals, flowers, hats, and woven objects. So we started with those observations and chose works of art, such as those featured below, that visitors might more easily relate to and that had some evidence of both the materials and the method of making.

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Finally, we will continue to encourage the creation of three-dimensional objects, but rather than having one set of materials, we will offer different materials at different stations that relate to the nearby works of art. This will offer some variety and give visitors more options.

Looking Ahead
When the Art Spot reopens next week, we will continue to ask for visitor input, because being an experimental space means that we are constantly evolving through the creative process. We will document the creations visitors make, read the reflective statements they write, talk with them about the works of art, the materials, their creations, and their overall experience to get a sense of what aspects of the new design are working and what we might revise. Stop by the Center for Creative Connections this summer to see the redesigned Art Spot, be inspired by the newly installed works of art, make a creation, and give us your feedback!

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

Stir Your Senses

For Friday’s Late Night, we wanted to make sure we engaged all of the senses, giving visitors an immersive experience at the DMA. There will be many programs to stir your senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.

To tempt you to stay out late, I have highlighted one program for each of the five senses.


Visit our Flora Street Entrance and our Sculpture Garden to see vivid outdoor installations representing color, pattern, and movement created by The Color Condition.

Color Condition 2


Experience the physicality of sound with a newly commissioned performance by New York artist Kevin Beasley. BLACK ROCKER will premiere at the DMA as part of the inaugural SOLUNA festival.

Kevin Beasley


Our Lounge @ Founders will tempt all of your taste senses with something salty, sour, sweet, and bitter.

Founders 2


Families can stop by the exhibition Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga and check out a Sensory Art-to-Go Family Tote Bag. The tote bags are filled with a variety of activities, such as imagining how a work of art would smell and then writing a poem about it.

Tote Bags


While you can’t touch the art, you can stop by the Art Spot in the Center for Creative Connections and make your own work of art using a variety of materials.

Art Spot 2

We hope you’ll join us on Friday to see what else is in store!

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the DMA. 

You Know You’re a Museum Mom If….

Over the years I’ve had the chance to see children grow up right before my eyes as they’ve attended classes at the DMA. They may solemnly gaze at me from their strollers in Art Babies, toddle around with their binkies in Toddler Art, and then proudly graduate to the “big kid” art classes before confidently marching off to kindergarten. I’ve also had the opportunity to get to know many amazing moms in the community. They push strollers, wrangle kids, balance wet paintings on their arms, and cheerfully champion their children’s creativity. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are just a few of the things we love about Museum Moms!

Mothers Day 1

Fun is often messy. Museum moms aren’t afraid of messes—even big ones! We’ve challenged children to paint with their feet, create dripping, gluey sculptures, and blow colorful paint bubbles onto paper. To say that we sometimes get messy in the Art Studio is a bit of an understatement. But our DMA moms are always enthusiastic, encouraging their children to try something new and to not let sticky fingers hold them back. As we’ve conducted fun painting experiments in the studio over the past few months, I’ve watched children gaze at their moms in wonder as they strip off their shoes and socks, push up their sleeves, and dive into some serious action painting.

Mothers Day 2

Sometimes you just need to shout! We hope that every child finds his or her own unique voice, and through our family classes, we do our best to give children opportunities to share those voices. Museum Moms value what their children think and wonder about art, and often let them lead the way in talking about what they see. In a recent Art Babies class, caregivers pulled their little ones across the floor on colorful fabric to mimic the sensation of paint gliding across a canvas. Amidst the giggles and smiles, one baby accidentally discovered the wonderful echo she could make in the galleries. A comical shrieking match quickly broke out as other babies realized they could make their own echoes too, and the gallery was soon filled with high-pitched, delighted squeals. Rather than frantically shushing their children, these wise moms simply reveled in the display of spontaneous joy that came from children making discoveries in an inspiring place (and took advantage of the fact that there were no other visitors in the gallery).

Mothers Day 3

Being present is the best present. We’re all about family togetherness here at the DMA, so when we’re sketching in the galleries or posing like a statue, more often than not, the grown-ups are right alongside their child, busily engaged in a class activity. Museum Moms know that their children watch everything they do, and that the best way to raise a creative child is for children to see you nurturing your own creativity. In a preschool class several years ago, I asked a group of three and four year olds who some of their heroes were. Lili piped up immediately and said, “My mom is my art hero because she watches while I paint.” When we’re busy creating in the Art Studio, I always have at least one or two children who inform me that their masterpieces are “for my mom.” Museum Moms are some of the very best at creating lasting memories for their families and giving the gift of their presence.

To all the moms out there, thank you for all you do! Happy Mother’s Day!

Leah Hanson is the Manager of Early Learning Programs at the DMA.

Experiments on Public Space

As part of my time as a McDermott Intern in Education at the DMA, I was given the opportunity to carry out an independent project. Experiments on Public Space (EPS)started with the aim of evaluating and measuring “publicness” through a research approach that is grounded in artistic practice. From the beginning, the project hoped to contribute to the Museum by initiating an active reclaiming of publicness of the institution through the creation of opportunities for thought, transformatory participation, and active discussion. By doing this, the project’s ambition for the DMA was, and is, to exemplify and animate what it means to be a public museum in the 21st century.


The decision to focus on the issue of publicness is responsive not only to the field of art and culture but also to a globalized context in which our notion of democracy and democratic space is constantly being tainted and distorted. The project is a result of my past research, and my belief that performance art and participatory projects have the ability to provide social, political, and/or personal experiences.

The project launched during the February Late Night with Gesture—Tribute to Tania Bruguera, an unannounced performance that placed Museum visitors in crowd control situations. The piece was the first attempt at creating a space in which to ask participants to explicitly consider the differences between public and private, control and freedom, access and limitations.

The second experiment, Alternative Signage, took place during the March Late Night. This program, which was the result of a collaboration with the DMA/Perot Museum of History and Science Teen Advisory Council (T.A.C.), was also a performance piece where I and a group from the T.A.C. intervened in Museum spaces by installing alternative signs that were conceptualized and designed over a period of three months. The signs reworked and reimagined the ways text, symbols, and signage can influence participation and experiences, and therefore overall publicness.

I Am a Monument… is the third of four experiments that constitute EPS. The program involves a series of workshops that were held during the Museum’s Studio Creations program with guest artist Giovanni Valderas; visitors worked collaboratively to build a temporary monument recognizing and celebrating the Latino community of Dallas. The workshop itself becomes a gesture of coming together to celebrate and participate in this building of relationships between communities. The unveiling of the monument, in the shape of an arch, will create a passageway that represents the desire for mutual understanding and the welcoming of the Latin American community. See it revealed on the Ross Avenue Plaza during this month’s Late Night on Friday, April 17!

Experiments on Public Space will come to a close with a fourth and final program, a panel discussion titled when “public” becomes a verb…, which will bring together four speakers to present a series of visual statements produced in collaboration with the DMA and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science Teen Advisory Council (T.A.C.). The panel discussion will take place during the May Late Night on Friday, May 15, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Center for Creative Connections Theater.

Poster 1 of 4 - Example

For EPS, each program was conceived as a way of collecting “data on publicness” of the Museum. The results of these “experiments” will be on display at the Center for Creative Connections beginning on April 17. Visitors will become evaluators of this data, providing their thoughts and comments and an overall measurement of the individual issues of publicness explored in this project through a series of interactive activities in the space.

Eliel Jones, McDermott Education Intern for Visitor and Community Engagement at the DMA.

The Name Game

In our Center for Creative Connections, we provide opportunities for visitors to respond to works of art through discussion, drawing, making, and writing.

Due to its history of multiple names, Arthur John Elsley’s Hard Pressed (Late for School/Any Port in a Storm) provides us with an opportunity to ask visitors to rename the painting.

Arthur John Elsley, Hard Pressed (Any Port in a Storm/Late for School), 1898, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Kim Jordan

Arthur John Elsley, Hard Pressed (Any Port in a Storm/Late for School), 1898, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Kim Jordan

When reading through the responses, we were surprised by how many were pop culture references. Check out some of our favorites.

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Next time you are in the Center for Creative Connections, add your contribution to the wall and maybe you will see it on Uncrated!

Jessica Fuentes is the Center for Creative Connections Gallery Coordinator at the DMA.

A (Warm) Winter Wonderland: Autism Awareness Family Celebration

This past Saturday, we had the first Autism Awareness Family Celebration of the year. Our theme was snowy weather, which was a fun contradiction to the sunny Texas forecast that we had for the day. Families who attend every Autism Awareness Family Celebration joined first-time families for a fun morning in the Center for Creative Connections making pom-pom snowflake paintings in the studio, relaxing in the TWU sensory room, sketching from works of art in the galleries, and gathering resources from Autism Speaks. Check out all of the DMA’s access programs online at

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

Leaves of Light with Writer Kendra Greene


Kendra Greene, the DMA's current Writer-in-Residence

Kendra Greene, the DMA’s current Writer-in-Residence

Since July 2014, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) has worked closely with printer and essayist Kendra Greene. As our Writer-in-Residence, Kendra is assisting in the evaluation and re-purposing of thousands of visitor responses received in relation to a recent C3 installation.

Images (left to right): A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on its Leaves, c. 1900, watercolor on paper, The James and Ana Melikian Collection; Visitors leaving responses at the C3's Tree of "LIGHT" interactive

Images (left to right): A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on its Leaves, c. 1900, watercolor on paper, The James and Ana Melikian Collection; Visitors leaving responses at the C3’s Tree of “LIGHT” interactive

In the spring of 2014, in connection with Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, C3 asked visitors to respond to a painting of a Tuba tree with the 99 names of God written on its leaves. Nur is the Arabic word for “light,” so we asked visitors to write a characteristic of light on a gold leaf and hang it on our tree. Over three months, we received 4,394 contributions.

Uncrated sat down with Kendra and asked her a few questions:

Tell us a little about your background with museums.
In my first job, as a preparator, I used to put text on the museum wall—one vinyl letter at a time. As a curatorial assistant, I started writing those texts. I was managing a contemporary photography collection when I discovered the best day I could have was introducing a visitor to some remarkable thing they could never have known to ask for, which may or may not have led to volunteering at a natural history museum to costume their giant ground sloth.

What interested you in working with the Dallas Museum of Art?
Museums are storytelling institutions, and yet so many of those stories go unheard. There’s never enough room on the labels to say everything worth saying, and then there’s the internal stories, the fragile oral history of what it is to live with a museum, that almost never get recorded in the first place. I wanted to capture stories that might otherwise be lost, and I wanted to give voice to surprising things well worth hearing.

Describe your process of unpacking and making sense of the information in the leaves.
The prospect of coming to grips with thousands of discrete words and phrases was overwhelming. I started alphabetizing to organize the leaves, and doing so I found not just patterns of meaning but rhythms of language. I got really interested in the effect of proportion in the responses: the power of “Love” being repeated 242 times, and the power of “Flowers & Weeds” being said just once.

Kendra’s notebook documenting the Tuba tree responses

Kendra’s notebook documenting the Tuba tree responses

What are some of your favorite poems that you generated from the leaf responses?

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How does this kind of creative re-purposing support the process of meaning making?
I’m a writer and a maker essentially because I believe in conversation. It’s exciting whenever creating something generates a response, but when that response generates more making, the whole exchange grows that much richer. It was really important to me to listen to everything this collection of visitors chose to say, and then think about what those writings had to say both individually and en masse. I see a lot of my questions and interpretations in my compositions from the leaves, but mostly I see a portrait of a community that can only happen through collaboration.

Join Kendra Greene for an evening of discovering the galleries through language, unlocking the power of art to spark poetry and prose, Thursday, February 12, from 6:00 to 8:50 p.m., and experience Kendra’s assembled poetry at the February Late Night on Friday, February 20, in the C3 Theater at 8:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Jessica Fuentes is the Center for Creative Connections Gallery Coordinator at the DMA.

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