Archive for the 'Exhibitions' Category

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.

Communicating in Quechua

INCA

Months. It took literally months during the summer of 2014 to decide on the orthography (the correct spelling/writing) for the exhibition Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes, which opened Friday. For example, should the Museum use “Inca” or “Inka,” among other spelling differences that would emerge in the exhibition texts. Many factors weighed into my decision, from popular recognition to modern linguistics, from consistency in labels to proper pronunciation. For the first few months of the exhibition project, I solicited the opinions of many individuals about the issue—from leading pre-Columbian linguists to Inca archaeologists to fellow curators, and even friends and family. I read the most recent publications, edited volumes, scholarly monographs, and online blogs to ascertain the most current opinions. Indeed, I researched, inquired, and deliberated so long that there was general confusion around the DMA itself about the final decision for months after I had finally settled on a position. Mea culpa; thank you to everyone for their kind patience. And I appreciate the generous input from many colleagues on an issue that elicits deep passion and strong opinions from scholars across disciplines.

Quipu (Khipu) fragment with subsidiary cords/Quipu (khipu) parcial con cuerdas afiliadas, Perú: Andean highlands or coast, Inca (Inka) culture, A.D. 1400–1570, cotton and indigo dye, Dallas Museum of Art, the Nora and John Wise Collection, bequest of John Wise, 1983.W.2174

Quipu (Khipu) fragment with subsidiary cords/Quipu (khipu) parcial con cuerdas afiliadas, Peru, Andean highlands or coast, Inca (Inka) culture, A.D. 1400–1570, cotton and indigo dye, Dallas Museum of Art, the Nora and John Wise Collection, bequest of John Wise, 1983.W.2174

The central issue is this: What is the ideal manner—in a US public exhibition context—for writing words from Runasimi, or Quechua, the language used as a lingua franca by the Inca state system and spoken today by many Andean peoples. Prior to the Spanish arrival in the 1530s, the Andean populations did not utilize a recognizable written script, one that the Spanish acknowledged and transcribed into a phonetic alphabet, as certain Spanish chroniclers attempted in New Spain (modern Mexico and Guatemala) with Mayan and Nahua languages. The Andean knotted cords, or quipu (khipu), that recorded information were documented by certain chroniclers in South America, who noted that the quipu were used to register taxes and census data, among other information. The individual Spanish chroniclers further documented Quechua words in the phonetic alphabet and according to Spanish pronunciation, with variant spellings. Certain spellings gained in pronunciation, popular recognition, and adoption into English.

Since the mid-20th century, there have been great efforts to revise the orthography of Andean languages, in particular Runasimi (Quechua), with laws passed in Peru during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The revised orthographies introduced changes such as the reduction from a five-vowel alphabet to a three-vowel system for Quechua. Modern linguists, such as the Peruvian scholar Ramon Cerrón-Palomino, have provided welcome standards for ongoing publication in Inca and Andean studies.

Four-cornered hat/Gorro de cuatro puntas, Peru: south-central highlands or coast, Huari (Wari) culture, A.D. 700–900, camelid fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison, 1976.W.2013

Four-cornered hat/Gorro de cuatro puntas, Peru, south-central highlands or coast, Huari (Wari) culture, A.D. 700–900, camelid fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison, 1976.W.2013

As an Andean scholar, I had actively used many revised spellings in teaching and coursework, as well as in a recent 2013 exhibition, Between Mountains and Sea: Arts of the Ancient Andes, at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas. Upon joining the DMA, I had further standardized the terms within the Museum’s database, emphasizing the revised spellings of Wari (for Huari), Tiwanaku (for Tiahuanaco) and Inka (for Inca). With specialization in the cultures of the Formative Period and the north coast of Peru, I confess to addressing only superficially the issue of orthography prior to the DMA exhibition. The spellings of the Cupisnique, Moche, and Chimú—the successive north coast cultures—have remained relatively constant. So I had adopted the basic premise that to utilize the new Quechua spellings was to honor indigenous rights, which aligns well with my role as a researcher of Andean cultural heritage.

Through the months I spent researching, however, the issue became less black and white for this context; it came to include various factors regarding public recognition and spelling consistency through the exhibition design. In the end, the decision to maintain historical spellings as the primary terms in the Inca exhibition likewise presented the wonderful opportunity to introduce an audience to corresponding Quechua spellings. The exhibition Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes thus features not only English and Spanish text but also dual spellings for most Quechua terms. A wall panel explaining the chosen orthography opens the exhibition, providing viewers with an opportunity to consider the complex ways language records, reflects, and defines a historical culture.

Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, is The Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the DMA.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirror engraved with flute-player, Etruscan, late 5th-early 4th century B.C, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association purchase, Edwin J. Kiest Memorial Fund 1966.7

Mirror engraved with flute-player, Etruscan, late 5th-early 4th century B.C,, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association purchase, Edwin J. Kiest Memorial Fund, 1966.7

Mirrors were present throughout different ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian, Greek, and Etruscan, and were luxury items primarily associated with women. Additionally, a mirror was an object of profound symbolic significance, as it was considered to be a receptacle for the soul of the person whose image was reflected on its surface. The Etruscan word hinthial means both “soul” and “reflected image.” This dual concept relates to the ancient Egyptian word ankh, which means “life,” but also denotes the image of a mirror. In relation to the idea of life, many mirrors have been retrieved from the graves of Etruscan women, indicating both their desire to take earthly possessions of value into the next world and their need to not leave behind the device that contained their souls.

Mary Cassatt, Woman with Mirror, n.d., ink, paper, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg 2000.255.FA

Mary Cassatt, Woman with Mirror, n.d., etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg, 2000.255.FA

In the 19th century, women and mirrors were painted frequently by the French impressionists. Mary Cassatt, an American expatriate artist, used them as a possible motif for the vanity of women and the pleasure received when looking at one’s own reflection. Simultaneously, the viewer’s passive activity turns into an active interpretation of “reality” based on the power of paintings to construct reality. Such issues raise open-ended questions around the topics of female empowerment and physical subjugation: Are female subjects denied their own agency when viewed by an oppressive male gaze? Or do they become autonomous beings that exert physical potency and awareness by deliberately looking into their own selves?

Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, Into the World Came a Soul Called Ida, c. 1929, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase 1947.18

Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, Into the World Came a Soul Called Ida, c. 1929, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1947.18

With the advent of modernity, critical philosophers and thinkers developed new theoretical forms to describe psychoanalytic experience during the 20th century. Most notably, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is attributed with the concept of the “mirror stage.” This theory proposes that human infants go through a stage in which an external image of the body (reflected in a mirror, or represented to the infant through the mother or primary caregiver) produces a psychic response that gives rise to the mental representation of an “I.” Such precarious observations begin to interrogate the ideas of “self,” “self-identity,” and the “ego” at an early stage of life. This brings into discussion the notion of “reality” and the existential gestalt that relates to elements that correspond to individual experience and personal being.

Ryan Trecartin, (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me), 2006, video, Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, © New York Ryan Trecartin

Ryan Trecartin, (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me), 2006, video, Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, © New York Ryan Trecartin

On view through December 6, 2015, and included in free general admission, Concentrations 59: Mirror Stage— Visualizing the Self After the Internet explores themes of personal identity and “self” in the 21st century cyberworld. Consisting of eight different contemporary multimedia artists, Mirror Stage encapsulates the heterogeneous nature of visual Internet culture and its complex development since the dot-com era. Ryan Trecartin’s (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me) (2006) is situated on the inside and outer liminal space of an e-mail conversation as it emphasizes the paradoxical role of online communication as a unifying digital tool, while revealing the effect of an impending, manic social isolation on its users in the offline “real” world.

Historically, mirrors were regarded as a tool for truth and recognition through the reflection of one’s personal appearance. After centuries of being associated with femininity and the female body, the concept of a mirror as a “screen” has drastically changed with the emergence of modern technology. Online Internet resources, including social websites and gaming platforms, have enabled Internet users to create new forms of identity that break with the historical past of mirrors as a conveyor of truth. Are we ready to adopt multiple, complex identities offline in the real world as well as in the online world? What will be the future resources for affirming one’s own personal identity within the (cyber)world? Mirror Stage—Visualizing the Self After the Internet invites the viewer to question, explore, and reflect on the new forms of presenting oneself within the digital age.

 Fabian Leyva-Barragan is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Sources: de Grummond, N. T., ed. A Guide to Etruscan Mirrors, Tallahassee, Fla: Archaeological News, 1982; Lacan, Jacques. “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience.” Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977).

Map Making

Tonight we’re opening three exhibitions including one featuring paintings by Frank Bowling. Bowling is a Guyanese-born British artist and is widely celebrated for his contributions to the field of abstraction and his advocacy of black artists internationally. Frank Bowling: Map Paintings highlights work Bowling created in the 1970s while living in New York. Discover more about this artist, who at 80 years old is still active in his London studio, in this fantastic look at his life in The Guardian.  See his work tonight for free during Late Night.

Artist Frank Bowling in his studio in South London. Photograph: David Levene. Web source: http://www.theguardian.com/

A Barrel of Art

Next Friday, February 20 the DMA is opening three exhibitions (Frank Bowling: Map Paintings, Bold Abstractions: Selections from the DMA Collection 1966–1976, and Concentrations 58: Chosil Kil) in time for our February Late Night. Installation for these three exhibitions began last week, get a sneak peek at the works of art below and start planning your artful Late Night now.

 

CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_001 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_002 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_004 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_005 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_006 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_007 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_008 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_009 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_010 CHOSIL_INSTALL_BLOG_FEB_2015_012

After Midnight: When the artwork is an early riser

Eight months ago, I joined the Dallas Museum of Art as the Director of Collections Management, helping to oversee the care of our art collection—both on and off the walls in our galleries and for our special exhibitions.  As part of that responsibility, I supervise the Museum’s team of preparators and registrars. Preparators are the staff who actually handle the art and are responsible for installing the artwork you see hanging in the galleries. Registrars, among other duties, are in charge of all logistics and coordination of loans coming to the DMA. Members of our excellent team have written about their adventures on Uncrated before (relive some of those stories here, here, here, here, and here!).

Last month we were all focused on the arrival of paintings from around the globe for our newest special exhibition, Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga.

Art travels in specially built crates, and there are particular companies that coordinate the shipping and customs procedures for works of art. The DMA Registrar staff works in close contact with these companies to make sure the works are safe and sound at all times. They know what size crate can fit in the cargo hold of different aircrafts and all possible flight options. We are kind of the travel agent for the artwork! We know that if a crate is higher than 63 inches it means that it will need to fly in a cargo plane.

That was the case for some of the most amazing artwork you will see in Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga, which opens at the DMA on February 8. We had 30 crates of 52 works of art travel from Japan to Dallas accompanied by the staff from the Japan Foundation and couriers from two of the lending institutions, the Mie Prefectural Art Museum, and the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.
Truck arrival

As there is no need to cater to passengers, cargo flights tend to leave and arrive at not the most convenient times. They are likely to arrive in the middle of the night—or in the middle of the morning, depending on how you look at it!

Truck manovering

The Shiraga and Motonaga works arrived at the DMA on a cold January night. Registrar and Preparator staff, armed with lots of coffee, good attitudes, and heavy coats, were at the DMA to receive the shipment. Our galleries were dark, and so was the night outside. Under the watchful eyes of our Security staff, we worked just as we would during the day, moving quickly and carefully. Preparators unloaded the big truck and moved the crates into our galleries. There they would acclimatize—a museum term for adjust to the current conditions (sort of like getting over jet lag)—for a 24-hour period. Afterward, these beautiful works were uncrated and installed in the presence of their couriers.

Truck at dock

I hope you will visit the DMA soon and enjoy this stunning exhibition!

Isabel Stauffer is the Director of Collections Management at the DMA.

ThisClose: A Rare Look at Reves Treasures

This year, the Dallas Museum of Art celebrates the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Wendy and Emery Reves Galleries, which house a varied and celebrated collection of paintings, sculptures, furnishings, and decorative arts. The Reves Galleries were designed as a replica, on a slightly reduced scale, of the principle rooms in the couple’s villa on the French Riviera. The unusual domestic character of these galleries has made them both loved and loathed over the years. They offer an opportunity to step into the past and discover the history of art collecting and display in the mid-20th century. But, the barriers that separate visitors from the displays have been a perennial frustration. As curators, we are often as frustrated as our audiences with the limitations of the display in the Reves Galleries. Yes, we feel your pain.

The Grand Salon in The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art

The Grand Salon in the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art

This spring, we are making some modest refurbishments to two of the rooms in the Reves Galleries that will require them to be closed for some months (the rest of the Reves wing will remain open). We’ll take advantage of the partial closure to photograph the works of art on view in those galleries as part of the DMA’s multi-year digital cataloging project. In coming months, visitors to our online collection will discover the fruits of that labor in hundreds of new and improved images of works of art in the Reves Collection. But, there will be also be an even more immediate opportunity for visitors to take a closer look at some of the Reves treasures.

Claude Monet, The Pont Neuf, 1871, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.38

Claude Monet, The Pont Neuf (detail), 1871, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.38

On January 31, we will open an intimate exhibition, included in free general admission, in Focus Gallery II on Level 1, featuring the great impressionist paintings from the Reves Collection, including works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Paul Cézanne. These works, usually on display in the Library and Grand Salon of the Reves Galleries, are among the greatest treasures of the Reves Collection . . . and among the most difficult to appreciate in their current setting, hanging on distant walls some twenty or even thirty feet from the barriers. In the exhibition Impressionist Paintings from the Reves Collection, thirteen of the greatest paintings from the Reves Collection will be brought together for a period of close study and exploration. Anyone who has longed for a closer view of these paintings will revel in this opportunity, curators included! But, this opportunity will be a limited one. Impressionist Paintings from the Reves Collection will be on view only until March 22, so be sure to plan a visit soon for an up-close and personal visit with these old friends.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise in a White Shawl (detail), c. 1872, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.58

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise in a White Shawl (detail), c. 1872, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.58

Heather MacDonald is The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art at the DMA.


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