Archive for the 'Education' Category

Who Run the (Ancient) World?

In celebration of Women’s History Month, let’s look way back at a few leading ladies from the DMA’s collections who made their mark on the ancient world. Then join DMA curators Dr. Anne Bromberg, Dr. Kimberly L. Jones, and Dr. Roslyn A. Walker on Thursday, March 23 to hear more about Women of the Ancient World and the objects that tell their stories.

Red-figure column krater with Amazon, c. 470-460 B.C.E., ceramic with slip, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2008.10

The Amazons were fierce group of women warriors who, until recently, were thought to be purely mythological figures. To the ancient Greeks, Amazons were barbarian man-haters and a formidable opponent for any would-be hero. They were an object of disgust for their rejection of traditional feminine roles, but they were also a source of fascination, often portrayed in art as beautiful and brave.

Altar depicting the first female ancestor, Indonesia, 19th century, wood and shell, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, 1999.181.McD

While this work of art was made fairly recently, it honors the founding female ancestor of this Indonesian society who is seen as the ultimate source of fertility. She is rising out of a boat, a symbol for the womb. Her arms are outspread, symbolizing the ancestral trunk of a tree and subsequent generations of branches.

Mummy and cartonnage, Egyptian, 19th Dynasty or later, wood and polychrome, Lent by Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, 20.2002.1.a-c

On this lid of this cartonnage, or coffin, we see an elaborately dressed woman and symbols of the deities that would protect her mummy inside. Although her identity is unknown, the quality of the coffin suggests that she was a person of wealth and social status.

Wall panel depicting Ix K’an Bolon, Mexico: state of Tabasco, Pomona, Maya culture, Late classic period, c. A.D. 790, Limestone, stucco, and paint, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James, H. Clark, 1968.39.FA

The royal woman depicted in this Mayan relief sculpture is Ix K’an Bolon or “Lady Precious Nine.” The text on the panel and the iconography of her ornate clothing tell us she is depicted as a goddess. It is possible that this relief would have been balanced by a second showing her husband in similar dress, shedding light on the power and prestige of ruling women in Maya society.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming

Shot Through the Heart

Have you been caught in a bad romance? Had your heart broken? Then join us for Off the Wall on Thursday, February 9, to commiserate with all of us that have been Shot Through the Heart!

Forget finding your soul mate; instead find your perfect art match as you speed date through the Museum, completing fun activities at six different stops in our galleries. To give you a head start in finding your perfect art match, we can share that one of the stops will feature Two Truths and a Lie. For this activity, you will choose a work of art and receive three statements about the object. You will have to figure out which statement is the lie. Here is one example:

Engungun costume, Late 20th century, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Pace Primitive Gallery, New York, 2008.99.1

Engungun costume, Republic of Benin, Yoruba peoples, late 20th century, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Pace Primitive Gallery, New York, 2008.99.1

  1. The cowrie shell–embroidered face panel allows visibility, while “juju” elements attached beneath it provide supernatural protection during the performance.
  2. The chief priest of the Egungun masquerades invokes the spirit of the ancestors; when he does so, the rest of the worshippers’ dance movements and drums are possessed by the ancestral spirit.
  3. The Egungun festival is usually performed during the rainy months in Nigeria because it is believed that the rain helps the ancestors arrive more quickly.

Complete all six speed dating stops and you will receive a free beer or glass of wine in the DMA Cafe. While sipping your drink, learn that it could always be worse when you play a historical version of Marry, Date, Kill with portraits from our collection. Which one of these charmers would you want to keep forever?

Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne was an instrumental figure in the Reign of Terror who hated foreigners, especially Marie Antoinette.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Portrait of Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, early 1790s, oil on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 1961.105

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Portrait of Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, early 1790s, oil on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 1961.105

Edward Hyde was the worst governor of New Jersey and New York ever. EVER. He was also a cross-dresser, which had no impact on the quality of his governing.

Artist unknown, Portrait of a Lady, Possibly Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury in a Dress, c. 1705-1750, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen, 1992.47

Artist unknown, Portrait of a Lady, Possibly Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury in a Dress, c. 1705-50, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen, 1992.47

Semiramis wanted to rule Assyria so badly that she kinda-sorta killed both of her husbands. #WhoRunTheWorld

William Wetmore Story, Semirarmis, designed 1872, carved 1873, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Morynne and Robert E. Motley in memory of Robert Earl Motley, Jr., 1972-1998

William Wetmore Story, Semiramis, designed 1872, carved 1873, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Morynne and Robert E. Motley in memory of Robert Earl Motley, Jr., 1972-1998

End your night with unlucky in love music classics like You Give Love a Bad Name, Shot Through the Heart, Bad Medicine, and other Bon Jovi classics performed by Blaze of Glory: the Bon Jovi Experience.

And if you’ve already found your soul mate, or you’re just starting to date that special someone, please also join us this Thursday, February 9, to prove that love does conquer all!

Stacey Lizotte is the Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the DMA.
Katie Cooke is the Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA.
Madeleine Fitzgerald is the Audience Relations Coordinator for Programming at the DMA.

Let’s Dance

We’ve been lucky over the past year to partner with Dance for PD® on a collaborative program offered each month here at the DMA in which members of the local Dance for PD/Movement Disorders class have been immersed in gallery discussions, interactive dance, and movement. To facilitate the program, DMA educators team up with Misty Owens, a Dance for PD® founding teacher at the Mark Morris Dance Group, who has been teaching the specialized classes since 2003 in Brooklyn, New York, and locally throughout the Dallas Metroplex since 2011.

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Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects up to one million people in the United States. Someone with the disease may have tremors, slowed movement, rigid muscles, and impaired posture and balance. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, one of the most important recommendations is to stay active, focusing on balance and flexibility. Dance for PD® engages the participants’ minds and bodies, and creates an enjoyable social environment that emphasizes dancing rather than therapy. Owens’ expertise in dance allows for active demonstration to inspire participants to recapture grace, while guided improvisation inspired by works of art in the collection fosters creativity and experimentation with movement. Participants not only have the chance to learn and talk about art, but to move their bodies and dance in the galleries!

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Pat Goukler, one of the Dallas dancers, said of her experience, “I don’t have PD, but my husband does, so I do this with him. I’ve seen him develop a creativity that I hadn’t seen in 48 years of marriage. He looks at a piece of art and interprets it with his body. It is phenomenal; he has developed rhythm. It has been a joy to watch him experience a new way of expressing himself through art.”

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Another member of the class said the Dance for PD program at the DMA “gave us all a new lease on life WITHOUT Parkinson’s. Yes, that’s possible!” Another stated that the experience “made my body feel so free. There were moments (quite a few, actually) when my body and mind felt so graceful and calm. The beauty of art and movement go together so well—I was surrounded by a joyous feeling!”

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The opportunity to collaborate with Owens has allowed the DMA to engage with people from the Parkinson’s disease community in a way that we’ve never done before. The participants in the program are already focusing on movement, flexibility, and balance, which are essential to those with Parkinson’s disease, but having the class in the DMA galleries enables them to connect their dancing to visual works of art, providing them another avenue of inspiration—a meaningful experience for all involved!

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

Genre Bending

Walter De Maria

“Every good work of art should have at least ten meanings,” remarked Walter de Maria, one of the major figures in the history of Minimal, Conceptual, Installation, and Land, in 1974. One thing I admire about his work is how complex and multifaceted it is (literally and figuratively); it invites us as viewers to hold in mind a few ideas at once and to consider it from a variety of perspectives.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, January 18 to do exactly that, and to celebrate the DMA’s recent co-acquisition with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art of Large Rod Series: Circle/Rectangle 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 by De Maria at a DMA Arts & Letters Live event.

Top: author Geoff Dyer Bottom: DMA curator Gavin Delahunty

Top: author Geoff Dyer
Bottom: DMA curator Gavin Delahunty

This Artful Musings event will feature senior curator Gavin Delahunty who organized the Walter De Maria: Counterpoint installation and will provide an overview of the artist, his work, and importance; award-winning author Geoff Dyer who has written about De Maria’s work in his newest book White Sands; and percussionist Stockton Helbing, who will perform some of the artist’s rare musical compositions.

After 5:00 p.m., you can linger in the installation before it goes off view on January 22 — it’s the perfect opportunity in a quieter setting to experience the artist’s work. As Caitlin Haskell notes in her catalogue essay, “it takes time to come to know them.” There is rich resonance between El Greco’s painting of Saint Francis Kneeling in Meditation (1605-1610, on loan from the Meadows Museum) and De Maria’s sculpture. The juxtaposition of these two works creates a rich meditation on the themes of minimalism, mathematics, progression, and sensory perception.

Walter De Maria, Counterpoint

Walter De Maria: Counterpoint, 2016

Shortly after 7:00 p.m., percussionist Stockton Helbing will perform of one of De Maria’s musical compositions, with Gavin Delahunty’s and Geoff Dyer’s insights and conversation kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Dyer will then sign copies of his books, and Delahunty will sign copies of the newly published exhibition catalogue.

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Both artist and author defy easy classification or categorization in their respective fields. De Maria was a painter, sculptor, illustrator, and composer. The New Yorker calls Dyer “a restless polymath and an irresistibly funny storyteller. . . . adept at fiction, essay, and reportage, but happiest when twisting all three into something entirely his own.”

Dyer’s newest book, White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World, showcases his series of fascinating adventures and pilgrimages across the globe. They range from searching for Gauguin’s notion of exotic paradise in Tahiti to nearly freezing and being trampled by a dog sled on a quest to see the Northern Lights. Weaving stories about recent travels with images and memories from his childhood, Dyer tries to discern what a certain place and, like De Maria, what a certain way of marking a landscape, means; he explores the power and attraction that certain places hold and what we seek in them.

My favorite chapter in White Sands is the one in which Dyer, his wife, and friends experience De Maria’s The Lightning Field in western New Mexico, where the only way to visit is to reserve a cabin on the property and stay overnight, allowing you to experience the 400 rods in at various times of day and in varying degrees of sunlight.  Reading it made me want to prioritize this as my next road trip.

Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field, Quemado, New Mexico

Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field, Quemado, New Mexico

For those who want to delve further into this topic and artist, don’t miss the opportunity to hear Walter De Maria in his own words about his land art installations as part of a free film screening of The Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art on Saturday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the DMA. Explore Arts & Letters Live’s lineup of more than 30 events over the next six months here.

Carolyn Bess is the Director of Arts & Letters Live 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

Sensory Sensation

HyperFocal: 0

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.

Pumpkin Perfect

Our Education Department is always up for a creative challenge, so we celebrated today’s holiday by dressing up our pumpkins in their DMA finest for our annual Great Pumpkin Contest. Competition was fierce, but the winning, Linus-approved trophy was awarded to Emily and Jennifer, for their take on everyone’s favorite, somewhat creepy, DMA toddler, Dorothy. Check out all the terrific submissions below. Happy Halloween!

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.


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