Archive for the 'Collections' Category

Connecting Fibers

Alexandria Clifton and Kyli Brook are two students of UNT professor Lesli Robertson and both recent grads from the college’s Fibers program. Earlier this year, they set off to research the process of making traditional batik on the island of Java. They were tasked with the challenge (and we are so glad they accepted!) with producing eight batik samples that illustrate the complex creative process of traditional batik makers. These samples will be installed in Waxed: Batik from Java, opening this weekend on Level 3. (Read a little more about the process and the installation in this post.)

Clifton and Brook’s journey began with a trip to the DMA’s textile storage with curator Roslyn Walker and preparator Mary Nicolett to examine some of the textiles up close and personal. These works are incredibly detailed, and photos alone do not do them justice!

Back in the studio on UNT’s campus, they mixed wax based on traditional Javanese recipes. The wax must be sufficiently durable to resist dye, but also removable. Their research determined that both hand-drawn and stamped batiks involve an initial application of a brittle but easily removable wax mix (klowong) followed by various applications of a stickier, more durable wax mix (templok). The ingredients for hand-drawn wax—their method of wax application—include paraffin, pine resin, beeswax, and fat. Wax for stamp application also includes eucalyptus gum. They used strips of fabric to test out the waxes.

Today in Central Java, indigo dye is generally made from indigo paste, lime, and ferrous sulfate mixed with water. A soga brown dye mixture includes bark from various trees and shrubs. In an effort to be as authentic to the process as possible, Clifton and Brook also used natural dyes for their project. (Learn about UNT’s cool Natural Dye Garden here.)

The design of their final eight samples is based on the motif of the red wraparound skirt (kain panjang) with blue clouds (megamenlang). Ultimately, the concentric outlines of this motif more clearly illustrate how to produce gradated hues with subsequent wax applications and dyeing; however, throughout their process the two tested a multitude of designs, all inspired by the DMA’s collection.

During their research Clifton and Brook compiled a robust binder of samples and experiments and shared it with us. I was particularly impressed because even their notes are lovely!

Not only are Clifton and Brook’s “finished” products on view in the exhibition, but visitors can actually touch and feel the samples. During the fall semester, we look forward to receiving a second set of batiks from Amie Adelman’s class. A HUGE thank you to our friends and colleagues from the UNT Fibers program for another wonderful collaboration!

Andrea Severin Goins is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA.

The Canines Behind the Canvas

Dogs are said to be man’s best friend, but can they also be his muse? The following artists sure thought so! These four-legged friends were never far from their master’s side, eager to give a bark of approval for work well done or a shake of the muzzle to try again, and, in dire circumstances, to lend their tail as an extra paint brush. These furry entourages inspired, encouraged, and lent a paw whenever they could to their famous owners. Happy National Dog Day to the creative canines behind the canvas!

David Hockney with his models, Stanley and Boogie

Georgia O’Keeffe getting some air with her fluffy chow companions

Jackson Pollock taking a breather with Gyp and Ahab

Pablo Picasso adventuring with his beloved dachshund Lump

Andy Warhol with his favorite army candy . . . his dachshund Archie

Frida Kahlo with her hairless, but not heartless, Xoloitzacuintli dogs

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

Going for the Green

Have you ever wondered why Olympians are crowned with a wreath of leaves when receiving a medal? Well, you see, it was not always about going for the gold: in ancient times, victors were adorned with a crown of wild olive leaves (kotinos). Legend has it that Hercules (also known in Greek as Heracles or Herakles) was the creator of the Olympic Games, which at its inception solely consisted of a single tournament of foot racing. He dedicated the contest to the gods, and ornamented the winners with a wreath from an olive tree that grew behind the temple of Zeus in Olympia. Ever since, the wreath has been a symbol of the Olympic Games. After all, who needs a piece of precious metal when the pride of Olympus—and Greece’s divine hero—has given you some sacred flora to show off?

Best of luck to all the athletes competing in Rio. May you be faster, higher, and stronger!

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

Annual Declaration of Awesomeness

Thomas Eakins is overwhelmingly considered one of the most important American artists. The Pennsylvanian would have been a whopping 172 years old today. His art was deeply influenced by his interest in the anatomy of the human form and the study of motion. The realist painter, photographer, and sculptor took to educating aspiring artists later in his career, and he was both admired and admonished for his controversial and progressive teaching methods.

The painting below—like almost all of Eakins’ portraits—is not a commissioned work, but was done out of friendship. The pensive subject is Gertrude Murray, the sister of one of the artist’s most loyal friends and with whom he shared studio space. As is typical of his extraordinarily moving late portraits, Eakins has isolated his sitter against a neutral background, showing her absorbed in thought. He sets up a tension between his sketchy, bold handling of paint and his intensely observed realism.

Cheers to Thomas!


Thomas Eakins, Miss Gertrude Murray, 1895, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Margaret J. and George V. Charlton, Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, The Jonsson Foundation, and an anonymous donor, 1975.1.FA

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








Sweet Tooth

In the DMA’s Education Department, we embrace opportunities to refresh our minds and spark our creativity. And when said opportunities happen to present themselves in the form of baked treats, well, you can bet we’re all over it.

So in honor of National Sugar Cookie Day on Saturday, July 9, I whipped up a batch of blank cookie canvases for my colleagues to craft, with one simple caveat: creations must be inspired by works of art at the Museum.

As the frosting settled and the miniature masterpieces took shape, only one question remained—when can we eat!

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.

Faces of America

 America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.
—President Harry S. Truman

This Fourth of July, we celebrate our country’s birth and the individuals who have cultivated it into a mighty nation. We come from many backgrounds, bringing unique perspectives and traditions to this melting pot we call home. Together we make this sweet land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a reality.

Happy birthday to the United States of America!

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

Day Break

William McKeown, The Dayroom, 2004-2010, A room, a painting, and a drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C

William McKeown, The Dayroom, 2004-10, a room, a painting, and a drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c, © William McKeown

In a quiet corner of the DMA’s Barrel Vault, a recent acquisition to our contemporary collection sits inconspicuously in the Hanley Quadrant Gallery. Installed in March as part of Passages in Modern Art: 1946-1996, William McKeown’s The Dayroom references spaces found in institutions associated with illness and aging—hospitals, retirement centers, convalescent homes. Via artificial lighting, washed-out yellow walls, and a confining boxlike structure, McKeown attempts to mimic the disquieting artifice that pervades these rooms, which are often decorated with brightly colored wallpaper and works of art that attempt to cheer up an otherwise morbid space.


The installation takes the form of a room that initially appears to be little more than a framework of exposed wooden struts, scaffolding, and drywall; however, a window built into the side of the structure frames a direct sightline to a painting hung within the cube, inviting the viewer to enter the interior of the installation.


Pale yellow walls and cold fluorescent light welcome the viewer into the unsettling interior of The Dayroom. The sickly colored walls illuminated by the harsh sodium light elicit feelings of claustrophobia. The window looks out onto darkness, serving as a reminder of one’s containment and separation from the outside world. Working in tandem, these structural components form a space that situates the viewer in a position of captivity and powerlessness. After all, dayroom occupants are rarely there by choice.


McKeown’s vision, however, is not one of hopelessness. Hung on the interior walls are a painting and a drawing, both of which function metaphorically as breaths of fresh air within an otherwise suffocating setting.

Left: William McKeown, Untitled, 2004-2010, Oil on linen, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C / Right: William McKeown, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2, 2005, Coloring pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C

Left: William McKeown, Untitled, 2004-10, oil on linen, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c. Right: William McKeown, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2, 2005, coloring pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c. Both works © William McKeown.

Untitled is an oil on linen painting that represents a moment of soft early morning light experienced by McKeown. While the painting may appear to be a direct rendering of a sky, McKeown insisted that the work is, in fact, a hybrid image—one that melds an objective documentation of light with his own subjective, emotional response to it.

Installed on an adjacent wall, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2 is a colored pencil drawing of a primrose, a flower found in the artist’s hometown in Tyrone County, Northern Ireland. Rendered so faintly that the paper initially appears to be blank, the yellow primrose is set against a stark white background, seeming to sprout, against all odds, out of nothing.

Both works encourage a heightened sensitivity to quiet, often unnoticed natural phenomena—the softness of daylight in early morning, a flower that reminds one of home—all the while providing moments of tranquility and hope within the oppressive interior space of the room. For McKeown, a work of art is meant to elicit a sense of belonging in the viewer. Best explained by the artist, he once said during a lecture at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, “When I paint a painting that has no image or a drawing of an open flower, I try to focus on a moment of inspiration, a moment of not feeling separate from nature or from self, a moment of the awareness of the perception of life, of perfection, of being at home in this world.”


The structure of The Dayroom frames McKeown’s painting and drawing as liberating objects, suggesting that works of art can, even if only for a moment, transport the viewer to a better, imagined state—one marked by hope, openness, and the warm feeling of belonging.

The Dayroom will be on view at the DMA through March 2017.

Nolan Jimbo is the Temporary Project Coordinator, Curatorial, at the DMA.

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