In case any of us had forgotten, last week’s surprising plunge in temperature certainly served as a reminder of Texas weather’s tendency to change at whim. The days may be warming back up (however briefly), but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what the Museum’s collection has to offer on Mother Nature’s more mercurial moods!
Whatever the weather may bring, you can always come see A Mountain Landscape with Approaching Storm on Level 2 in our European gallery, and explore the rest of the works shown here through the DMA’s Online Collection. Have a happy Friday!
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching
Each year the Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) holds an annual conference where art educators from elementary to higher ed to museums gather to learn about new trends in curriculum, research, technology and more. This year, the TAEA conference was held in San Antonio and my colleague Danielle Schulz and I attended and presented. Here are some highlights from the sessions we enjoyed during our 2014 TAEA experience.
Supported Interpretation at the Heart of San Antonio
Working in the Center for Creative Connections, the DMA’s interactive educational space, it can sometimes be difficult to find relevant professional development opportunities. Out of all the sessions at TAEA, I was most excited about this one, led by Alicia Viera, Director of Cultural Programs at Texas A&M University at San Antonio. Ms. Viera runs the Educational & Cultural Arts Center associated with TAMU San Antonio, which is an exhibition space located in the heart of the downtown San Antonio arts district. Her session recounted a recent exhibition she developed with a team of artists and professors using the Supported Interpretation model. This model is intriguing because it is similar to the way we develop content for the Center for Creative Connections, including: moving away from didactic resources and more towards an active learning style; approaching labels and text with a diverse audience in mind; displaying visitor contributions/feedback in an exhibition; and using evaluation to inform the way we grow and change. An interesting aspect of the Supported Interpretation model which has not been fully realized in the Center for Creative Connections is the production of an exhibition with a team made up of Curatorial, Education, and Installation staff, along with representatives of the Museum audience. As much as possible, this is something we strive for, but it can be difficult to fully involve all parties. Ms. Viera’s presentation sparked my interest and I will continue to keep a watchful eye out for the work she is doing at the Educational & Cultural Arts Center.
For Teens, by Teens: Expanding Museum Communities
Connecting with teen audiences through programs and activities is a rapidly growing focus of many museums. In this session, educators from Artpace San Antonio and The Contemporary Austin shared their practice and insight into working with Teen Councils at their respective institutions. A shared goal of these museums was to make teens feel welcome and comfortable visiting their art institutions and attending events. Taylor Browning, Assistant Curator of Education, Teen & University Programs at Artpace, asserted that enlisting teens into designing teen-focused programs and events at their locations was a key aspect of achieving this goal. An interesting conversation covered during this presentation was the importance of flexibility in communication, in both low and high tech ways. WIGGIO, a free online communication tool for groups, was utilized by both institutions because it allows teens to choose their method of contact–via email or text message–which removes a hurdle often encountered by staff working with this group. A more grassroots method of communication was also highlighted: the paper flyer. Both Artpace and The Contemporary Austin promote teen-focused activities and events through event flyers posted in high school hallways and community centers, and they celebrated the cost-effective nature and success of this low-tech promotion.
This presentation supported the current work the DMA is doing with teen audiences, and more importantly, it sparked some fruitful ideas for how we can grow and develop our current teen-focused programs. We are currently working with our own Teen Council to design a teen-focused Late Night event, and have students from our Skyline and Booker T. Washington partnerships using the Museum and it’s collection as an extended classroom. It’s exciting to think of ways that we can extend these collaborations into making the Museum a more welcoming place for teens!
Out of Sight
Currently at the DMA we offer a handful of Access programs for visitors with special needs, and we are always looking to expand the breadth of our events and activities and increase their impact on visitors of all ages and abilities. In celebration of the national Art Beyond Sight Awareness month, the Museum has annually hosted a variety of hands-on activities, gallery discussions, art-making experiences and artist demonstrations that focus on ways to explore and experience art using senses other than vision.
The Out of Sight session at TAEA was very beneficial because it described resources and tools used by the Meadows Museum and the Ann Richards Middle School in their art programs for visitors with low or no vision. One of the most interesting resources covered were tactile graphics–representations of images that are adapted, using braille and texture palettes, for the sense of touch. It was easy to visualize how tactile graphics could seamlessly be put into practice in the Center for Creative Connections and other educational programs at the DMA. More and more as a department we are exploring the concepts of Universal Design for Learning, and investigating how to create activities and interactives that are accessible to diverse visitors with a range of abilities and learning styles. Carmen Smith, Director of Education at the Meadows Museum and co-presenter of this session, often reiterated that resources like tactile graphics and verbal descriptions of works of art are not just helpful for visitors with low or no vision, but that sighted visitors find these resources to be beneficial as well. Many of the tactile graphics used by the Meadows Museum were created by Visual Aid Volunteers, or more simply by using glue or puff paint to outline details of a printed image. Another intriguing resource mentioned was a machine called a PIAF (Pictures In A Flash) which is a great, albeit expensive, tool to create detailed tactile graphics. Watch this video to see how it works.
Developing an Eye for Design
Though the work Danielle and I do at the DMA is quite different, our passion for photography and teaching often brings us together to collaborate on presentations and workshops for many different audiences. This year at TAEA we presented on several low and high tech photography related activities and projects that teachers could incorporate into their classrooms. These lessons were based on a photography summer camp we co-taught last summer at the Museum. During our session we covered the variety of themes and projects we taught to our summer camp kids, explaining their significance to the field of photography and to design instruction. Additionally, we incorporated two art-making components into our presentation so participants had some hands-on learning opportunities. For our low tech project, attendees learned how to build their own camera obscura using simple found materials. For the high tech portion, participants experimented with the photography app VSCOcam, to enhance their digital photographs. View our full presentation here.
The annual TAEA conference is a great way to hear about the work being accomplished by art educators across Texas, as well as share with the field the DMA’s great education programs. We’re taking in all the program ideas and resources we gathered, seeing how they can best be utilized, and already looking forward to next year’s conference.
C3 Gallery Coordinator
I just returned from five blissful days of creativity and companionship at Lucky Star Art Camp. This was my second year to attend camp. Last year’s experience was pretty amazing, and this year did not disappoint! Last year’s post provided more of an overview of my time at camp, so this time I’ll share photos of the different workshops I took.
I spent my first morning with Lisa Seger of Blue Heron Farm in Food from Your Backyard. Lisa taught us the basics of raising a garden, composting, and raising goats and chickens. Though I probably won’t add any goats or chickens to our family in the near future (I can barely take care of my dog!), I was happy to learn more about gardening and composting. During class, we visited some chickens that Lucky Star camp founder Lisa Field brought for us to meet.
During Light Hunters that afternoon, photographer Vivienne McMaster led us on a journey throughout the beautiful grounds at Camp Waldemar. We took advantage of the gray weather and learned how to use different camera settings to capture as much light as possible. It was difficult to choose just a dozen images from the many I took that afternoon!
The next day, I learned about the many beneficial properties of different plants and herbs from Stacy Wooster during Plants & Practice. Our workshop ended with a very relaxing yoga session, and we walked away with an herbal antiseptic to spray on scratches and scrapes, a fire remedy for when we’re feeling under the weather, and an herbal tea that boosts the immune system.
Because I loved her workshop so much last year, I revisited my friend Corrine Gilman in Mixed Media Alchemy. Corrine describes herself as “a creativity cheerleader, a big rock obstacle mover, a doer and a maker of all things mixed media.” I can personally attest that these are all absolutely true. Being a tentative art-maker myself, I appreciate Corrine’s enthusiastic and gentle encouragement, and enjoyed three hours of playing with different materials.
I relearned how to crochet during Hook It Up! with Cal Patch. I crocheted as a young girl with my mother, but haven’t practiced in many years. I started making a cowl scarf, but three hours fly by when you’re a beginner (or second-time beginner), so I don’t have any finished products, or pictures, to share from this workshop.
And just like that, camp was over. I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent five days at Camp Waldemar, learning new things and exercising my creativity while relaxing with so many lovely ladies in beautiful Hill Country, Texas. If you are intrigued, join the Lucky Star gang from November 4-8 in 2015!
C3 Gallery Manager
It’s been a while since my last recipe, so I’m happy to be back for some fall baking after my extended break (during which I welcomed a new addition)! November is one of my favorite months–not only is today my birthday, but I also love Thanksgiving and all the flavors of fall that come with it. Our painting, Mountains, No. 19, really evokes this time of year to me. The rich oranges, reds, and greens burst off the canvas, reminding me of all the wonderful, fresh produce this season has to offer. So for this recipe, I’m combining two fall favorites–sweet potatoes and pears–into one colorful bite. Happy fall!
Recipe adapted from A Cozy Kitchen.
In mid-October, Center for Creative Connections staff embarked on an exciting collaboration with Janeil Engelstad from Make Art with Purpose and a group of students from the Skyline High School Architecture cluster led by teacher Peter Goldstein.
Skyline students have been visiting the DMA on a weekly basis to become acquainted with our collection. During the visits, the students explore the ways in which art can have cultural and personal significance by responding both critically and creatively through activities, dialogue, and reflection.
Starting on Level 4 with American Art and moving all the way to Level 1 with our Contemporary collection, the students have been talking, writing, and drawing works of art that they want to include on their own tour, which will be used to create a new smARTphone tour of the Museum. We also make weekly visits to their high school to further explore the collection and discuss the types of responses that will become content for stops on their tour.
The project is part of Translating Culture, an initiative that launched last year that aims to create links with the community by inviting groups to collaborate with staff through a series of workshops to inspire dialogue for mutual understanding and varied perspectives on the collection. While intending to inspire the use of art as a means of further understanding oneself and the world we live in, Translating Culture II also hopes to give the students a sense of ownership of the Museum and a platform from which to speak out their thoughts and concerns in order to engage their peers and the wider community.
We will continue to meet with the students until the end of November, at which point all the student work will be collected and prototyped into their bilingual smARTphone tour in early 2015. Stay posted for more detailed information on the project and a behind-the-scenes peek at students’ work, such as those below which include a sketch by student Miguel Martinez based on The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church, a drawing by Edith Cruz inspired by Renoir’s Lise Sewing and a set of sketches by Guadalupe Murillo during her visit to The Silk Road exhibit on Level 3.
McDermott Intern for Visitor Engagement
With last week’s opening of Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse, you might say we’re all abuzz with excitement here at the Museum. Although fall is just arriving, all we can think of are these beautiful blooms!
It’s easier than you might think to recreate some of your floral favorites at home. Try modeling your bouquet after one you might have seen or put together the posy of your wildest dreams. I took my inspiration from the DMA’s own Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Porcelain Vase.
There are some great tutorials online for making your own paper flowers. Martha Stewart Weddings can show you how to make some really lovely, delicate flowers here, and the Rust and Sunshine blog (here) has easy to follow instructions to make a variety of blooms with a little bit of inventive folding. With the help of these tutorials, I made carnations, roses, and star lilies. I couldn’t find a tutorial I liked for making irises, so I designed my own! You can print off this template and follow the directions below to make them too.
A quick note before we get started: for some flowers (particularly irises and lilies, whose petals you want to stand up a little bit), you might find that a sturdier paper works better for you. This is the perfect time and place to experiment! I liked the unified look of having all my flowers made out of tissue paper, but it’s your bouquet, so you’re the boss.
What you’ll need to make irises:
- Tissue paper in a variety of colors – blue, purple, and yellow are pretty common for irises, though they come in a number of other colors as well
- Pipe cleaners or art wire (for the stems)
- Clear tape
- Optional: paint, glitter, glue, markers, colored tape, vase
If you opted to use something like card stock instead of tissue paper, cut out only one each of Iris A and Iris B and skip ahead to Step 4. If you’re using tissue paper like me, you’ll need to take an extra step or two to give the petals a little structure, so start here.
1. Trace and cut out two each of Iris A and Iris B in your tissue paper of choice. Double-layering the tissue paper will help beef up the flower.
2. Roll six pieces of tape – one for each pair of petals – in on themselves, sticky side out. Lay one tape roll lengthwise along each petal of one set of Iris A and Iris B. Make sure you don’t cover up the very center of Iris B! This will make Step 4 a little easier.
3. Match up the second set of Iris A and Iris B with the first and press down, sandwiching the rolls of tape between the two layers of tissue paper.
4. With the point of a pen or pencil, poke a small hole right through the center of your Iris B cutout or tissue paper and tape sandwich. This is why you didn’t want to block the very middle with tape in Step 2! Be careful not to press too strongly – you don’t want to accidentally rip your flower base in half.
5. Make an L-shaped bend in the end of your wire or pipe cleaner and thread it through the hole you just made in Iris B. Adjust so that the bend end lies flat on Iris B and the remaining wire/pipe cleaner extends downwards in a straight line. Secure with tape.
6. Using three narrow pieces of tape, attach the bases of Iris A’s petals to the spots marked in the template with dashed lines. I suggest doing this so the tape pieces end up on the interior of the flowerand aren’t visible.
7. Finally, embellish with whatever extras strike your fancy – paint, markers, glitter, you name it – and arrange your completed iris with your other flower creations in a vase.
Voila! You now have a beautiful bouquet that needs no water…in fact, you probably shouldn’t have water anywhere near your nice new paper flowers, unless soggy is the look you’re going for! So skip that annoying watering step and enjoy these low maintenance blooms — and our blooming exhibition!
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching
This time of year, it feels as if the city is overflowing with costumes, jack-o-lantern’s and trick-or-treaters! But in all the festivity, many of us tend to forget the origin of the holiday. Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve, was historically a day for Christian worshipers to pray and prepare themselves for November 1, All Saints’ Day, a feast day dedicated to all the saints and martyrs of Christianity.
The DMA has a large number of artworks that depict saints, ranging in time period and media. I would like to take this occasion to highlight some of my favorites, from St. George slaying a dragon to St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters.
For more information on any of these saints or works of art, check out the DMA Collections webpage! And from all of us here at the DMA, enjoy your All Saints’ Eve and Day!
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching