Archive for the 'Education' Category

Weaving in the Andes

For thousands of years, artists in the Andean region of South America have been weaving beautiful and complex textiles—an extremely labor intensive process as well as an important form of artistic expression. Beyond serving as protection from the arduous cold of the highlands and the intense sun of the Andean coast, textiles played important roles in ritual, political, and social life and functioned as a marker of social identity for both the living and the dead. Because it took so much time and effort to produce a textile, wearing a highly decorative tunic, for example, conveyed the wearer’s social prestige. Today, we are surrounded by textiles—from the upholstery of our living room sofas to our clothes and bed sheets. But most of today’s textiles were created in mass and for the masses.

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One of the goals of Inca: Conquests of the Andes—on view until November 15, 2015—is to emphasize that each of the textiles in the exhibition was laboriously and thoughtfully created by hand. So, we designed a space within its galleries to illustrate the step-by-step process of making a textile, from the shearing of a camelid for natural hair or the picking of raw cotton, to the many specific ways that fibers can be woven together to produce a textile.

We were thrilled to collaborate on this project with University of North Texas professor Lesli Robertson and the awesome students in her class Topics in Fiber: Community, Culture, and Art. To kick it off, the class visited the DMA’s textile storage and examined fragments representing a variety of weaving techniques for inspiration. Then, they returned to campus and got busy creating enlarged samples of the weaving techniques, using extra strong and thick cording and string so that visitors can touch and feel the nuanced differences between the various techniques. The students experimented with natural dyes like indigo and cochineal (a parasitic insect) to produce bright colors, mirroring the Andean artists in the exhibition. They also produced a backstrap loom—a small, portable loom popular in the Andes that is attached around the weaver’s back and anchored to a tree or other high post. Be sure to check out the students’ photodocumentation of their project on Instagram. They tagged all of their photos and video with #IncaConquestUNT.

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Better yet, visit the Inca exhibition and explore the sample wall to learn about the intricate weaving processes used by the artists represented in the exhibition. When you enter, grab a Weaving Techniques guide from the holder. The colorful round icons on labels indicate the predominant weaving technique used for that artwork. Look for differences in the techniques in the artwork galleries, but try to feel the difference in the Weaving in the Andes space.

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Andrea Severin Goins is the Interpretation Manager at the DMA.

 

 

 

 

DMAxTAC = Super Late Night

The Teen Advisory Council.

The Teen Advisory Council

If your tour guide looks a tad younger than expected during this month’s Late Night on Friday, June 19, chances are you’re meeting one of the amazing members of the Teen Advisory Council (TAC). You’ll see others as well—decked out in black and festooned with capes—leading art activities and scavenger hunts, helping with haiku slams and performances, and having a great time with visitors throughout the night.

The masterminds behind the evening’s activities, the TAC has spent the past three months working on the first-ever teen-planned Late Night in DMA history. Their vision for the event not only reflects their ideas for what the Museum can offer but is a collaboration that I hope will only continue to grow.

I caught up with some of the council members to ask them about what this opportunity has meant to them and what they hope visitors will experience on Friday:

Q: What activity has been the most fun or the most challenging to plan?

“The most difficult activity to plan was probably the scavenger hunt because if one detail is off then it can throw off the entire scavenger hunt. At the same time, planning this was a lot of fun because we got to choose the different works of art ourselves and make up the clues. We really got to take charge of this activity, and I think it’s cool that a group of teens was able to pull off such a task.” —Maddi

Teen Council members collaborate with Eliel Jones on his Alternative Signage event during the March Late Night.

Teen Council members collaborate with Eliel Jones on his Alternative Signage event during the March Late Night.

Q: What do you hope visitors take away from this evening?

“I hope that visitors will gain a greater appreciation of the Museum as a whole, in particular through the DMAzing Race, as it offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the Museum. I also hope people meet others with the same interests as them and gain new friends in the process, especially teens who will have a separate lounge area for themselves.” —Cristina

“I hope the new visitors to the Museum see how the Museum is actually very different from the normal museum experience and how they can interact and be a part of the Museum just as any artist can.” —Maddi

“I want the visitors to leave saying ‘I’m glad I came to this’ and learning something. They could learn about anything at the Museum, even about themselves. So, I want the visitors to learn, about anything they want.” —Nadir

The Teen Council experiments with a Creativity Challenge idea.

The Teen Council experiments with a Creativity Challenge idea.

For me, it’s been a blast to watch the TAC execute their ideas and see how much fun they’ve had in the process. I’m amazed at how undaunted they’ve been throughout the process given the magnitude of this project (maybe it just hasn’t sunk in yet?) and how many moving pieces there are. You can check out the full schedule of events for Friday’s Late Night here.

I couldn’t be more proud of all the hard work they’ve put in, and I can’t wait to see how visitors respond. Super!

JC Bigornia is the C3 Program Manager at the DMA.

A Soft Touch

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This evening, in advance of our special DMA Arts & Letters Live event with Rebecca Alexander, who will discuss her memoir about losing her vision and hearing due to a rare genetic disease, we will host our first Touch Tour for adults in the Museum’s Sculpture Garden. Last summer, the DMA hosted a similar tour for a group of children with visual impairment; you can explore photos from the event below and learn more about the history here.

Tonight, artist John Bramblitt will lead participants to three works of art and then discuss his process as an artist who happens to be blind. The all-inclusive tour for those attending the Arts & Letters Live event (those with full vision will be given blindfolds for the tour) begins at 6:15 p.m. Visit DMA.org for additional information about tonight’s program and to purchase tickets.

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

Off to Art Camp

The end of the school year marks the beginning of the DMA’s summer camp program, where each week campers make friends while exploring works of art in the collection and making their own art in the C3 studios. Yesterday we welcomed a fun and energetic group for our first two Summer Art Camps of 2015: New World Kids and Paint, Print, and Pattern.
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On the first day of New World Kids, campers got to work with plants . . . and get their hands dirty while doing so!
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It was a fun day, and the campers were excited to show their families the plants and other activities they had worked on.

Some of the campers were, admittedly, a little excited to see their families at pick-up…
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Although all our camps are fully booked, if you would like to see a list of the types of summer camps we offer, for ages ranging from 4 to 19, visit our website, DMA.org.

Josh Rose is the Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs at the DMA.

FAST Times at the DMA

With each new exhibition at the Museum comes a jolt of excitement for our FAST (Family, Access, School, and Teaching programs at the DMA) team. Education programs at the DMA involve both the permanent collection and any special exhibitions, and a new exhibition means opportunities for exciting new lessons. Though our programming won’t focus on the newly opened exhibition Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes until the fall, we can’t help but brainstorm some experiences we might create around the fantastic content inside. Here’s a look at some of the ideas we’ve got flying between our ears:

Family Programs
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For our littlest learners, from babies to our homeschool kids, we often begin our gallery portion of the program with story time connected to the lesson’s theme. To get thinking about camelids and their importance in Inca life, we’re eyeing one of Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama books and will then explore objects like the llama-form vessel or llama-head whistle. The focus of the lesson could also be one of the exhibition’s remarkable tunics. We would follow the journey of camelid fibers, which we have on hand for tactile exploration, from their origins on a llama to their ultimate use, being woven into a wonderful piece of clothing. Our youngest visitors will then try their hand at a weaving project in the Museum’s Art Studio.

Access Programs
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For visitors with special needs, our class might focus on jobs in Inca society. Through an object like the tunic with checkerboard pattern and stepped yoke, we can connect the idea of the Inca soldiers who wore the tunic and the weaving specialists who made it to what we know of modern occupations or memories of jobs our participants had in the past. Different art projects would be appropriate for the two groups: with our visitors with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we might choose our Inca dream job and make wearable tunics for it using materials in the Museum’s Art Studio, and for participants with Alzheimer’s, we might take our time with a weaving project. We like to have a hands-on experience all participants can enjoy.

Go van Gogh
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Our Go van Gogh community outreach program involves a staff member and volunteers leading programs in classrooms throughout DISD. For an Inca-based program, we would pick 3–4 works to explore around a theme such as “what we wear,” which could include items like the sleeved tunic, poncho with central medallion and double-headed-birds, or four-cornered hat. For a related art project, the students may design their own tunics using some of the geometric patterns or animal imagery we discussed. We always have amazing works of creativity come out of our Go van Gogh groups!

School Tours
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Most teachers who sign up for school tours want their students to see as much as possible, so our wonderful docents choose highlights from all over the DMA’s expansive collection. Inca might only be one stop on a tour of five or six destinations in the Museum. Docents typically let the interests of the students lead the discussion: are they drawn to textiles or ceramics, ideas of Inca soldiers or animal imagery? Whichever it is, docents would be sure to show contextual images such as a map of the Tahuantinsuyu empire or an illustration of a ruler wearing a tunic. Though the stop is brief, the goal is to teach the students a little bit about another culture, while whetting their appetite so they return for more!

Make sure you take the opportunity to explore Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes before it closes in November. In the meantime, the FAST team will be counting the days until we can explore the exhibition with our many audiences!

Liz Bola is the McDermott Graduate Education Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching and Jennifer Sheppard is the McDermott Education Intern for Family and Access Teaching 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.

SIGHT

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

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SOUND

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

TASTE

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

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SMELL

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

TOUCH

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.

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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.


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