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Calligrams & Concrete Poetry

September 23, 2014

A calligram is a word or phrase in which the design of the text is arranged to create a visual image that expresses the meaning of the words. For example, the below piece on the right (by Low-Commitment Projects) integrates words that describe a flamingo (leg, long neck, pink) into a recognizable shape that mimics the bird.

 

Similarly, concrete poetry, an experimental literary style that gained prominence in the 1950s, also heavily relies on the aesthetics and visual design of the words used in a piece of writing to impart overall meaning to the work. In this respect, language is image, and the physical material from which the poem or text is made is just as vital to the meaning of the work as the words that are chosen. The poem becomes an object, and the poet an artist.

During their first DMA visit of the new school year, our Booker T. Washington Learning Lab students investigated the concepts of calligrams and concrete poetry. As senior visual art students, they are understandably comfortable expressing themselves through purely visual means. But with this exercise, we wanted to challenge the students to expand their avenues of communication, and explore this hybrid visual/literary method as an alternative way to express themselves and provide insight into their personal and artistic interests.

The calligrams the students created were quiet varied, taking the shapes of animals, pop culture icons, people, and even geometric and natural forms. Getting to know the students through this unique introduction helped us as educators gain insight into their artistic and personal modes of expression, and (we hope) provided them with useful self-reflection as well. We’ll be working with these students all year long as part of our Learning Lab class partnership, so stay tuned for more exciting things to come from this group of creatives!

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Friday Photos: The Mother Load

September 19, 2014

This week artists Lesli Robertson and Natalie Macellaio have been on hand in C3 installing The Mother Load Project, an interactive piece which hopes to start a dialogue with visitors about the balance of nurturing in one’s life. The collaborative project began as a way to engage with women who lead the creative life of an artist while also being a mother. As part of the project, Robertson and Macellaio are collecting fingerprints from artists and their children, recording experiences via written word and audio interviews, and documenting the ongoing process through their interactive website.

Visit C3 tonight from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm to explore the work and speak with Robertson and Macellaio. Their piece will be on view from September 19, 2014 – March 31, 2015.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator

Warm Welcome

September 17, 2014

Each September, we welcome eight new colleagues to the Museum: our wonderful and oh-so-talented McDermott Interns. Three of them will be blogging here with us for the year, so we must do proper introductions. Here’s a little bit about each of these fresh new faces:

LizBola

Liz visiting Venice over the summer

Liz Bola
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

Liz joins us from Massachusetts, where she recently earned her MA in Art History from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Liz will be working with docents, K-12 tours, and our Go van Gogh program.

Which DMA artwork describes you best and why?

Edward Hopper, Lighthouse Hill, 1927

First of all, I studied American art in graduate school and I especially love Edward Hopper’s paintings. In addition, I grew up in Maine, about 20 minutes away from the lighthouse that Hopper depicts. This painting reminds me of visiting the Two Lights lighthouse and the nearby Lobster Shack with my family in the summer!

JenniferSheppard

Jennifer minigolfing in Massachusetts over the summer

Jennifer Sheppard
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Jennifer is a Dallas native who recently earned her BA in Studio Art with a Painting Concentration from the University of Rochester in New York. Jennifer will be assisting with our programs for early learners, families, and access audiences.

Which DMA artwork describes you best and why?

J. T. Grant, Looking North, Fort Worth 1999, 1999

I was born and raised in Dallas, so I have a special fondness for the big, blue Texas sky (and depictions of it) to the extent that the fall semester of my junior year in college I turned in exclusively sky-themed projects for all my drawing and painting assignments. Looking North even calls to mind how I left Texas for four years to attend the University of Rochester in upstate New York. I’m happy to be home again, though!

One extra fun little connection: this painting can be found in the Mayer Library. I volunteered at my neighborhood library throughout high school, so I share the feeling of being at home among books.

Eliel worked at a fishery in Norway over the summer

Eliel worked at a fishery in Norway over the summer

Eliel Jones
McDermott Intern for Visitor Engagement

Eliel joins us from the UK, where he completed his BA in Fine Art at the University of the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey. Eliel will be working in C3 and assisting with our community partnerships.

Which DMA artwork describes you best and why?

Nic Nicosia, Youth, 1986

Nic Nicosia’s photograph titled Youth best encapsulates how I have been feeling for the past year. The scene depicts three youngsters having the time of their lives. Youth speaks of the beauty of being free, young and somehow unafraid, not necessarily because those things are tangible realities but more because they are concepts that go beyond truth and exist within the parameters of utopian experience and imagination.

I like to think that the characters are riding up a gallery of an art museum. I somehow always end up referencing the scene in Jules et Jim (François Truffaut, 1962) where Jules, Jim and Catherine daringly run down a bridge, a scene that was later re-interpreted in The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertulocci, 2003) where the three main characters run up a gallery of the Louvre in Paris. Both the films and Nicosia’s photograph attempt to portray what it might mean to be young: a mixture of love, faith, passion and sometimes reckless attitude. If you add art to the picture you probably end up with me!

We’re so excited to work with our new colleagues this year. The next time you catch them on the blog or in person, be sure to say hello!

Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator

 

My Meaningful Moments at the DMA

September 9, 2014

Sarah Coffey:

Our educators create amazing programs for all audiences here at the Museum. Learn more about Meaningful Moments, our program for individuals with early stage dementia, on our blog Uncrated.

Originally posted on Dallas Museum of Art Uncrated:

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and Scholl Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program.

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program

There are many reasons I enjoy working with our Access Programs here at the DMA, but one of the big ones is the chance to form relationships—relationships with participants and, in turn, their relationship with works of art in our galleries. The Meaningful Moments program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partner (usually a spouse or family member) creates opportunities for people to have transformative experiences with works of art and with one another. I feel lucky to be a part of this each month. As I have gotten to know the participants over the years and spent time with them each month, I am reminded of the importance to live in the moment and to cherish each day that we get to spend with our loved ones. The Meaningful Moments…

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Friday Photo: Arturo’s Preschool

August 29, 2014

arturo_04

Imagine a school where you could explore a pond during science class, visit the symphony for music class, and look closely at a painting by Monet in art class! Real-world lessons are powerful at any age, but are especially important for the preschool crowd. We don’t have a pond or a symphony here at the DMA, but we can connect preschoolers with art masterpieces from all over the world.

The Arturo’s Preschool program is a free class for preschool, homeschool, and day care groups serving children ages three to five. In the class, we look closely at paintings, sculpture and other objects; read a picture book; and try out games and movement activities in the galleries. Then with our imaginations ready to create, we go to the art studio where children engage in process-oriented, open-ended art projects. Each month’s gallery discussion and art projects focus on a new theme, covering everything from the dance-inspired paintings of Edgar Degas to intricately sewn textiles from Africa.

Reservations for the 2014-2015 school year are now being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. For information on how to book your preschool class, please click here.

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

 

Measuring the Immeasurable

August 26, 2014

In January 2014, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) launched a series of activities which take place at a large table in our gallery space.  Each activity is related to a work of art in the C3 Gallery and offers resources to assist in visitors’ creative process.

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  •  The Portrait Drawing activity, which focuses on two portrait paintings by William Henry Huddle (Old Slave and Self Portrait), includes mirrors for self-portraiture and facial proportion handouts.
  • The Hybrid Drawing with Light Boxes activity, which focuses on The Minotaur by Marcel Dzama, includes four large light boxes and printouts of works of art from the Museum’s collection so that visitors can combine human and animal figures to draw a hybrid creature.
  • The Patterns with Felt Triangles activity, which focuses on Starry Crown by John Biggers, includes 9×12 inch black felt backgrounds and a colorful assortment of small felt triangles that visitors can use to create patterns similar to those represented in the painting.

After each of the three activities had a one month trial period, we felt certain that they were successful, but wanted to learn more about why and how these activities were successful.  As art educators, we know intrinsically that experiences with art make a difference in people’s lives.  Yet, when we are asked to prove this it can seem an unattainable task.  Proving the importance of art education is perhaps made even more daunting in an informal learning environment where visitors come for various reasons, but generally not to be quizzed about their experiences with art.  So, we sought advice from our evaluator to determine goals, indicators, and potential interview questions for each activity and immediately set to the task of measuring the immeasurable.  Since April, we have observed and interviewed participants at the gallery table each Saturday from 1:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.  During that two and a half hour block of time we have found the following averages:

  • Portrait Drawing– on average 23, adults and 18 children participated; visitors spent about 13.8 minutes drawing with times ranging from 1 – 30 minutes.
  • Hybrid Drawing – on average 27 adults and 36 children participated; visitors spent about 10 minutes drawing with a time range of 1 – 50 minutes.
  • Patterns– on average 11 adults and 9 children participated; visitors spent about 7 minutes creating patterns with a range of 1 – 33 minutes.

Though these averages tell us a lot about how much time people spend and how many people engage in our activities, the most interesting aspect of this evaluation has been hearing our visitors’ feedback and seeing the images they post of their work on social media.

Visitor Feedback:

“Well, it’s like… it’s fun.  Like drawing before was so serious and it had to be perfect, cause you were doing it for a grade.  But this is just for enjoyment.”

“I’m guessing this was made for children? It’s fun and different and I didn’t expect to see this here. Yeah, it’s like that spark of creativity, kind of… childlike.  I didn’t think I’d spend as much time or get into it like I did.”

“People think patterns have to be rigid, like red, yellow, blue and then repeat, but by playing with this you can be more creative.”

“This is more interactive than other galleries. [In] the other galleries you’re just looking, but here you get to do something.”

“I like to do the activity because it gets the kids interested in art, and if I do it, they’ll probably want to try it too.”

“It’s nice to make everyone focus.  I would have never gotten him [points to husband] to do this at home.”

Through this evaluation we have come to better understand our visitors’ habits and motivations. For example, we found that most visitors do not read instructions.  If the instructions are read it is only the main text at the top of the document that catches a visitor’s eye.  This could be because these activities tend to attract visitors who prefer some amount of active doing or making rather than passive looking.  Furthermore, visitors will spend more time participating in activities that provide seating and social interaction.  Regarding motivations, we found that visitors who participate in these activities are likely to have some underlying interest in the media or subject matter presented.

As we move forward and continue to develop activities for the gallery table we will take these lessons into consideration.   We will make our instructions more concise, we will offer activities that involve a social component, and we’ll branch out to include a variety of media so as to appeal to visitors who are interested in diverse artistic processes.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Coordinator

 

 

Friday Photos: Superheroes!

August 22, 2014

Firefighters, doctors, policemen – heroes are all around us…even in art! In the August Arturo’s Art & Me class, visitors met some of the heroes of the DMA, including Vishnu, a Hindu god, and Takenouchi, a Japanese warrior. Then, the little heroes-in-training made heroic outfits to match their super personalities.

Check out the fun below!

 

Emily Wiskera
Graduate Intern for Family and Access Teaching

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