Posts Tagged 'docents'

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m looking forward to the start of a new school year later this month. The DMA’s galleries have been quiet during the “school day” without the sounds of docents, teachers, and students deep in conversation about works of art. I thought it might be fun to celebrate back-to-school time with a DMA tribute to the “three Rs.”

Reading
Pierre Bonnard often used his nieces and nephews as models for his paintings. Bonnard was also fascinated by education, and in this painting he shows his nephews Charles and Jean Terrasse reading at a table. It’s easy to imagine that these two children are completing their homework assignments before going to bed. It certainly looks as if one of the boys is more interested in his reading than the other—a scene that is probably familiar to many parents and teachers.

Pierre Bonnard, Interior: The Terrasse Children, 1899, oil on paper board panel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Pierre Bonnard, Interior: The Terrasse Children, 1899, oil on paper board panel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Writing
Charles Rohlfs’ Swinging Writing Desk was one of the trademarks of his artistic furniture style. The desk rests on a footed platform and spins on a series of small wheels. The interior of the desk is divided into small compartments—perfect for storing pencils, pens, and any other supplies you might need. I don’t think I would mind doing homework if I had such a beautiful desk to use.

Desk (Model #500), Charles Rohlfs, Charles Rohlfs Workshop, c. 1899-1901, white oak with iron hardware, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift

Desk (Model #500), Charles Rohlfs, Charles Rohlfs Workshop, c. 1899-1901, white oak with iron hardware, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift

Arithmetic
The name khipu comes from a Quechua word meaning “knot,” a fitting name as khipu are made up of many strands of knotted fibers. It is not known what the knots signify, but it is thought that they represent a numerical record. Numbers may be indicated by the size and position of each knot on its cord.

Fragmentary khipu with two main cords and top and subsidiary and tertiary cords, Inca, Late Horizon, c. A.D. 1476-1534, cotton, plant fiber, and indigo dye, Dallas Museum of Art, the Nora and John Wise Collection, bequest of John Wise

Fragmentary khipu with two main cords and top and subsidiary and tertiary cords, Inca, Late Horizon, c. 1476-1534, cotton, plant fiber, and indigo dye, Dallas Museum of Art, the Nora and John Wise Collection, bequest of John Wise

September 16 is the official start date for student programs at the DMA, but we’re currently taking reservations for Museum visits and Go van Gogh outreach programs. Scheduling information can be found online. If you are an educator, we hope you’ll consider bringing your students to the Museum this year. I hope they’ll be as excited as this student was to visit the DMA!

Student jumping off of a school bus at the DMA.

Student jumping off of a school bus at the DMA.

Shannon Karol is Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs at the DMA.

Q&A with a DMA Docent

We have a corps of over one hundred volunteer docents who lead tours for students K-12 as well as for our adult visitors. They play an important role at the DMA, introducing our collections to museum-goers and sharing their passion for the beauty and importance of art. We are proud of their hard work and dedication and would like to introduce you to several of them over the coming months.

First up, meet Tom Matthews. Who knows, you might even run into him the next time you’re in the galleries. Rumor has it that he and his fellow docents spend a lot of their free time enjoying the art.

Number of years as a docent at the DMA: 10

A little bit about me: When I was a boy, my father piqued my interest in art by taking me to the Art Institute of Chicago. Though not trained in art, my father – an attorney – had a keen eye and did much reading on his own. His comments about art and artists stirred a life-long fascination for me. In my adult years, this interest continued. On family vacations, we usually stopped – often despite the protest of our daughters – at museums. My understanding was deepened by a twenty-five-volume series the Met in New York did for the public on art history and appreciation. While I was serving as pastor of a church in the coal fields of western Pennsylvania, a highlight of the month would be the arrival of one of these volumes. My wife alerted me to the docent program by referring me to an article in the Dallas Morning News.

My favorite experience as a docent at the DMA: I feel I have succeeded as a docent when I have “opened” a piece of art for the viewer. What does it feel like to be a griever in Jacob Lawrence’s Visitors or to “walk” as one of the figures in Giacometti’s sculpture? Assisting others in engaging with a work of art brings me satisfaction.

My three favorite works of art to share with visitors at the DMA:


Shiva Nataraja, India, 11th century: The dancing figure, holding strange objects and surrounded by a ring of fire, mystifies and entices.


Oedipus at Colonus, Jean-Antoine-Theodore Giroust, 1788: The story of Oedipus always commands attention. Giroust captures the pathos of the final moments.


Genesis, the Gift of Life, Miguel Covarrubias, 1954: Viewers are fascinated by the colors, imagery, and technique of mosaic making.

If you would like more information on the docent program at the Dallas Museum of Art, click here.


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