It has been my great pleasure to work in the education department at the Dallas Museum of Art for the past three years. My position as the Program Coordinator for the Center for Creative Connections (C3) has been such a huge opportunity to expand my K-12 art education and museum studies masters degree. I have had the great challenge to expand my knowledge in the classroom by leading the hands-on adult workshops in C3, working with local artists on the development of programs, leading programming for hundreds of people, mentoring young artists, and working with amazing people who have helped me grow as an educator. And now, I am thankful for a new opportunity to teach K-6 art for Richardson Independent School District and will forever be grateful to the DMA for my experience.
To close, I would like to say goodbye by remembering some of my favorite times at the museum. There are far more experiences to remember, but thought I would count just thirty-six–one experience per month of working at the DMA.
My top thirty-six (my three years x twelve months) memories from the DMA:
- Meeting many artists and working with them to create dynamic workshops in C3.
- Co-teaching a creativity program for adults.
- Becoming friends with Meaningful Moments attendees John and Sue, and receiving my very own squirrel foot necklace!
- Coming up with crazy Creativity Challenges for Late Night.
- Working with studio art students from the University of North Texas to train them how to expand their practice by teaching workshops for adults.
- Being the loudest one in the Center for Creative Connections office.
- I loved being part of the Urban Armor graffiti camp with our teen specialist JC Bigornia and guest artist IZK Davies.
- Teaching Terrific Textiles summer camp with 6-8 year olds
- Developing educational components for DMA’s Available Space project
- Meeting one of my favorite pop-up artists Robert Sabuda, during a Late Night Creativity Challenge.
- Teaching a Think Creatively class and instructing participants to draw a work of art they hated.
- Reading my favorite Fancy Nancy book during summer story time.
- Leading a Creativity Challenge for our Meaningful Moments program.
- Sitting in front of Orange, Red, Red by Mark Rothko when I need to think about something important.
- Seeing people drop things into a work of art by Nobuo Sekine.
- Going bowling for our education retreat.
- Having a Task Party with the C3 Adults.
- Doing yoga after hours in the Cindy Sherman exhibition with Melissa Gonzales!
- Meeting so many talented adult visitors who have helped mold me into a better educator.
- $1 coffee
- Leading Creativity Challenges for J.P. Morgan; making them create a love story between two works of art and crafting what the baby would look like!
- My incredible work-pal who brightened my day by leaving notes, gifts, and encouraging words on my desk weekly.
- Giving impromptu tours to visitors of works of art in our collection.
- Hosting Wayang Kulit artists in C3.
- Holding Life Drawing classes in the DMA galleries.
- Meeting Taye Diggs and helping Shane Evans lead a drawing workshop in C3 during the BooksmART festival to promote their children’s book Chocolate Me!
- Hosting a poetry showcase with The Spiderweb Salon of Denton, Texas. I was able to hear many musicians and writers (many of whom were C3 visitors) respond through words and songs to an exhibition at the DMA.
- Taking creativity breaks in the Crossroads Gallery.
- Working with C3 Volunteer Robert Opel to create the vision for the C3 Adult Programs promotional flyer.
- Receiving a phone call that Think Creatively changed one of my visitor’s lives and he will never be the same.
- Having an incredible boss who took many chances by letting me run with my ideas!
- Making new friends and being challenged by my colleagues.
- Having access to see the Jean Paul Gultier exhibition anytime I wanted to.
- Meeting many new people every day.
- Working with Maria Teresa and experiencing how important art is to the community.
- Working with Lesli Robertson and Natalie Macellaio on The Motherload installation (opening September 2014) and the launch of parent and child summer camp called Side by Side.
Thank you DMA for all the amazing memories.
Signing off for the last time as:
C3 Program Coordinator
Each summer, the DMA is lucky enough to have a group of wonderful interns to help coordinate the Museum’s numerous Summer Art Camps. This summer is no different; we have a fantastic group of ladies that have worked extremely hard the past thirteen weeks! The summer can be a bit crazy at times, but our wonderful interns always seem to keep their heads on straight. I invited them to be guest bloggers this week, and to share their summer camp experiences so far as well as some other interesting tidbits. Enjoy!
Interning at the DMA art camps this summer has been one of the best experiences I could have asked for. As an aspiring art historian, working in the same building where so many masterpieces are housed is already a dream come true; but even better than looking at the artwork is helping the kids interact with it. I believe that a passion for anything starts from a place of having fun, so my number one goal is always to make learning about art and creating works of art as fun as possible. Working with one of the classes in the contemporary gallery pushed me to find fun and interesting things about artworks that I had never had an interest in before. I know it may sound cliché, but the kids are the ones teaching me, and getting to know each new group of campers is always the best part of camp.
These past weeks at the DMA have been fantastic. I have enjoyed assisting the children and teachers during each camp. I find that helping one another is great and brings happiness to all, and that is what makes each week of camp a success. At times the work may be tiring, but it is so much fun to create works of art. I love that each week of camp is a different topic, because it gives me and the campers a chance to create difference types of art, which is really exciting. Personally, it’s a pleasure to not only see the children grow, but also the adults. The teachers and interns are experiencing success for their future by being involved in these summer camps.
It is amazing to see these campers unleashing their artistic potential and showcasing their personalities. As part of the New World Kids 2 summer camp, we had guest speakers come into the studio and talk about their jobs. By the end of the week, one kid decided she wanted to become a director when she grows up, another created his own stop-motion film, and another made a two-story model dollhouse inspired by a visit from our exhibit designer. One of the the greatest perks of this internship is that, in a way, we get to attend the camps with the kids. We are learning about instructional strategies while we experience them ourselves as we help with daily activities. I am also learning so much more about art and its history than I had expected! It seems like an adventure every time we explore the galleries with the kids for inspiration, especially in the early mornings when we have the museum all to ourselves.
Living out of a suitcase and couch-hopping around Dallas is an adventure of the best kind. Normally, you will find me in a land of weird people in burnt orange (hook ‘em horns), but for this summer, I find myself learning from the best at the DMA! As an aspiring art educator, assisting with summer camps has been a recent check off my bucket list. Every week a new teacher steps in, bringing interesting projects and showcasing different techniques in classroom management, and I feel like a sponge soaking up as many great teaching tips as I can! While I am a proponent of any and all fine art summer camps, one thing that I have enjoyed immensely (and something that I believe sets these DMA camps apart) is the ability to take campers through the wonderful art galleries right outside our camp studios. The opportunity to stroll down a corridor and show campers the artists that inspire their projects is matchless. The drive up I-35 from Austin to Dallas isn’t always my favorite way to spend 3… or 4… or 5 hours, but for the DMA I’ll make it any time.
During my time at the DMA, my awareness of art history has increased along with my understanding of children with various interests, backgrounds, and personalities. One of my favorite experiences has been accompanying teachers throughout tours in the galleries, which provided the children with historic context and inspiration from pieces held in the DMA’s collection. In addition to expanding my scope of art history, I also observed the children directly applying the artistic styles and techniques they learned. Whether dancing to music while creating quick-gestured, improvisational Jackson Pollock-style pieces or implementing Paul Signac’s meticulous method of Pointillism, the children brought an impassioned joy, focus, and energy to the studio. Additionally, I have enjoyed building relationships with the children, interns, and teachers, all of whom have been exceedingly kind, encouraging, and hardworking. Each week, the classmates quickly bonded with each other over various projects and group activities. The teachers and interns have shown to be some of the most supportive people with whom I have ever worked. They possess selfless, uplifting attitudes and created a warm and safe environment. Children were always encouraged and never told they were doing art “the wrong way.” Instead, they were given a success-rendering balance of structure and creative liberty. I have gained an indispensible understanding of art and children along with treasured experiences that will prove invaluable in my future career as an art therapist.
Many thanks to Ashley, Denise, Laila, Miyoko and Wilhelmina for acting as guest bloggers and being a part of the DMA Family Programs team this summer!
Happy, sad, angry, or excited – we all have feelings and emotions. During our July Autism Awareness Family Celebration, families explored moods and expression at the DMA before public hours.
Check out our website for information about the next Autism Awareness Family Celebration!
Graduate Intern for Family and Access Teaching
This month’s Late Night on July 18 marks the beginning of our very first t-shirt design contest for ages thirteen to nineteen! Participants have two months to submit a design inspired by a work of art in the DMA’s collection, with a chance to have their design reproduced and sold in the DMA store. More information, including submission guidelines, will be provided on the teen workshops section of the DMA website in the coming weeks; you can also send an e-mail to JBigornia@DMA.org.
Drop by the Tech Lab in the Center for Creative Connections this Friday between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. to hang out, hear more about the contest from DMA staff, brainstorm ideas, and sketch from works of art in the galleries.
Here are some works of art from the Ancient American collection that may inspire you…what work of art will you choose for your design?
C3 Program Coordinator
Many people may not think that of an art museum as the ideal field trip location for a group of children with visual impairment, but when the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) contacted the DMA earlier this summer with such a tour request, we were eager to provide the best experience possible. When discussing the visit with vision teachers at DISD, they felt it was important to expose their students to art and wanted an experience that would illustrate to the students that they too have the ability to create and appreciate art just as well as any other student.
The Planning Process
The Dallas Museum of Art has never before offered guided touch tours to visitors with visual impairment, but after speaking with our Director of Exhibition Design, we learned that she fully supports inclusive gallery teaching, and thus was open to supporting the Museum’s first ever touch tour. We talked with our colleagues in the exhibitions and conservation departments and found that they too were fully supportive of trying out a touch tour with the DISD students. The DMA Sculpture Garden was identified as the best place for our inaugural touch tour, since the objects in the garden are designed for an outdoor space and are thus subject to (and able to withstand) a variety of natural elements. We also felt that it was essential for the students to have the galleries to themselves during the tour, so as not to confuse other visitors about the acceptability of touching works of art, as well as for the overall comfort of the students with vision impairment. We therefore decided to schedule the touch tour for a Monday, when the Museum is closed to the public.
Our next step in the planning process was to walk through the space as a group, making note of areas that may be problematic for someone with vision impairment to navigate. The team was comprised of education, conservation, and exhibitions staff, and everyone on the team raised thoughtful questions and contributed wonderful ideas! We discussed which works of art may be the best for a tactile experience, and our conservators suggested that the kids have the chance to touch the works of art without gloves (which is usually unheard of in other touch tours!). Our exhibitions team offered to wash and hand-clean the works we selected so that they would be nice and clean for the experience. And one conservator suggested we select works of art that were large enough to be touched by more than one student at a time, so that the students could talk to one another about what they felt as they each touched the artwork.
After squaring things away with the exhibitions and conservation teams, the education team began planning the educational experiences of the tour. We prepared for twenty-five students, ranging in age from six to thirteen years, all with a range of visual impairment. The majority of students in the group had some residual vision, while two students were very photophobic, and two were blind from birth. Due to the range of abilities of our tour group, our education team knew it was important to include a variety of artworks in the tour (in addition to those on the touch tour), integrate many descriptive explanations of works of art and hands-on activities, and to have numerous tactile objects available.
In the Galleries
When designing the overall tour, we selected a variety of objects that spanned time periods, artistic techniques, and geographic locations. We visited two contemporary art sculptures in the Sculpture Garden for the touch portion, two Abstract Expressionist works in the contemporary gallery, and a mask in the African gallery. Our aim was to engage all of the senses throughout our tour, as we believe that presenting multiple representations of content would effectively cater to the different learning styles of the group. We created a multi-modal experience by collecting auditory clips for sound stimulation, tactile materials and replica objects for touch, Jelly Belly jelly beans for taste sensations, and essential oils and scented colored pencils for olfactory information.
Each stop on the tour had a visual description of the gallery space and of the works of art we focused on, because it was important for us to situate ourselves, the children, and the art in space, as the sense of bodily awareness in space is something that many people without vision impairment may take for granted. Much of our time in the galleries was spent guiding students in tactile looking activities connected to specific works of art and facilitating conversations about texture and form. For instance, we created a reproduction of Jasper John’s Device so that the students could not only touch canvas and feel layers of paint, but they could also replicate moving the wooden stretchers back and forth across the canvas, while imagining the technique in which Johns spread the paint back and forth.
In the African galleries, we focused on a helmet mask made by the Kuba people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and passed around raffia, cowrie shells, feathers and other materials found in the mask. Additionally, we played sound clips of the various animals that related to the mask.
Relating to Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park No. 29, we discussed how an artist could depict a place using sounds, smells, and taste. The students each ate a jelly bean and imagined the color they believed the flavor might represent. Next, they used a scented colored pencil to illustrate a place based on that smell. We also played sound clips of ocean waves and boat horns to recreate the Santa Monica locale that inspired Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series.
Our tour concluded with a sensory drawing activity that took place at the large fountain outside the Museum’s Flora Street entrance. The students listened to the sounds created by the water in the fountain, and considered how the water (and space around it) might appear, what color the water would be, even how the smell would be rendered. We gave each student a piece of thin Styrofoam and a pencil to create their drawing of the fountain; the students were able to feel the indented lines they drew onto the Styrofoam and took turns sharing their creations with one another.
Until Next Time
This was an exceptional experience for DISD students, teachers, and DMA staff alike. One teacher who helped to organize this visit said that this experience “might be the only time this whole summer [the students] get this opportunity to learn tactually, through their auditory channels and their residual vision, which sighted people take so much for granted.” It was a transformative experience as well for our Museum. We are honored to have been a part of this experience, and cannot celebrate enough the fantastic support and collaboration exhibited by DMA staff from many different departments. A huge thank you to DISD for bringing their students, and a thousand thank you’s to the DMA’s conservation, exhibitions, visitor services, and security teams. This was a team effort and we appreciate the unified support and assistance—let’s hope this is the first of many touch tours to come!
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences
I am delighted to introduce you to baby Rhys Amann Coffey, born to Sarah and her husband Todd. Rhys made his debut on June 9 at 12:57 p.m., weighing in at five pounds and twelve ounces. Mom, dad, and baby are happy and healthy. We will miss Sarah while she is on maternity leave, but can’t blame her for wanting to spend as much time as possible with this handsome little guy.
C3 Gallery Manager