Thursday, April 23, was National Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day. This year, I observed the day by bringing my daughter Julia to the Museum. She had the opportunity to help with daily tasks, attend meetings, attend a workshop, and participate in a Star Wars themed photo shoot… All in a day’s work at the DMA!
C3 Gallery Coordinator
Our docent corps is a group of over 100 dedicated volunteers who are responsible for touring thousands of visitors through the Museum each year. DMA docents have a deep knowledge of the collection and work to craft their tours based on the interests and ages of their audience. And this past year we initiated our first group of DMA Access Docents–volunteers who expressed an interest in helping with DMA Access Programs, in addition to the groups they were already touring!
We began the program by meeting with a group of eight Access Docents each month to discuss access programming best practices and learn successful communication and teaching strategies for visitors with special needs. We welcomed a guest from the Alzheimer’s Association to share general information about Alzheimer’s and an autism specialist from TWU to speak about autism.
This year, our training was more hands-on and consisted of observation and team teaching. The Access Docents primarily help with our Meaningful Moments for Groups and All Access Art programs. Many of the docents volunteered with these programs throughout the year and got to know several of the regular participants.
We’ve found that offering Access Program opportunities to our docents is a great way to share teaching responsibilities, which allows us to schedule more programs than we’d be able to if we only relied on staff. It is also a wonderful chance for staff to get to know the docents better and learn from them. We meet often throughout the year to touch base, brainstorm upcoming program themes, and share teaching strategies.
Access Docents have shared with us the joy they feel when forming relationships and interacting with people from the same groups each month. Many of them have also mentioned that their access work has enriched their school tours: they re-purpose information and gallery games and incorporate them into tours. Since school tours generally don’t include a studio activity, many of the Access Docents have enjoyed the chance to use hands-on materials, integrating art-making into the Museum experience.
We are thrilled to have such a passionate group of specialized volunteers helping us to teach our Access Programs!
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences
On April 10, the DMA hosted hundreds of high school students and teachers from all over the Metroplex for High School Film Day, part of the Dallas International Film Festival hosted by the Dallas Film Society each year during the month of April. Students were given the opportunity to learn from filmmakers and other professionals about the film industry by listening to panel discussions and completing hands-on workshops in the Museum’s galleries to perfect their filming techniques and improve their acting skills. Below are a few images from the day!
Looking forward to next year!
Audience Relations Coordinator for Programming
Let’s hear it for the kids! This week (April 12-18) is Week of the Young ChildTM. Never heard of it? The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) established this annual tradition in 1971 to “focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.” This year’s theme is “Celebrating our Youngest Learners,” and here at the DMA, we love nothing more than doing just that!
In honor of Week of the Young Child, I thought I’d share what we love most about the children who have become part of our DMA family over the years.
They are honest.
In preschools across the country, teachers often refer to the children as “friends.” So rather than calling out “boys and girls” when it’s time to leave the playground, you might hear someone say “all my friends—it’s time to go!” I often use this language in the Arturo’s Preschool classes I teach here at the DMA. One morning as we were sitting in front of Frank Gehry’s Easy Edges chair, I asked “Friends—what material do you think the artist used to make this chair?” Without missing a beat, a little boy looked me square in the eyes and said, “I’m not your friend!” Ouch! I laughed and did my best to win him over by the time we went down to the studio. I love knowing that four year-olds will give it to you straight!
They are curious.
Another admirable trait I often see in the preschool crowd is that they are excited about pretty much anything! Wherever we go in the galleries, they always want to make sense of what they see and figure out how it connects to their own lives. Once during a class focused on the art of ancient Egypt, I asked the children to imagine what life would have been like with no TVs, no electricity, no cars. One little girl piped up with all the authority of a wise three year-old, “they used cans and strings, right?” She cleverly deduced that if the Egyptians didn’t have the kinds of phones we have today, they must have used tin cans and strings to communicate! She wasn’t deterred by the concept of “long ago and far away”—but instead, she found a way to relate abstract ideas to her concrete reality. Brilliant. (And I just love the image of Pharoah calling down to his court on a tin can).
They are open-minded.
Young children are incredibly willing to entertain new ideas and explore new possibilities in art. While an adult might look at a painting and ask “why is this art?,” children move beyond “why” and ask “how,” “where,” “when” and “can I try it too?” This month we’ve been learning about the artist Pablo Picasso and Cubism. Inevitably, when I show the children a cubist portrait, they giggle and say “that’s a crazy face!” But then they take a closer look and are delighted when they find the nose and ears and eyes and can explain what the artist did to surprise us.
They are creative.
You can’t help but feel the buzz of creativity and the energy of little fingers at work when you step into an early learning studio class. Whether they are painting with their feet, concentrating on sewing stitches onto burlap, or experimenting with watercolor, young children are fearless when it comes to making art—something I think we can all aspire to. They dive in, not concerned about doing it “right” or making it look “just so.” They enjoy the materials for what they are, and love to see what paint or markers or paper or their own two hands can do! And when they’re done, they can’t wait to show off their work and tell you all about it.
This year, April 16th is Artsy Thursday, so grab your crayons and paint, and celebrate the young children in your life!
For more ideas on how you can celebrate Week of the Young ChildTM, check out the resources and suggestions on the NAEYC website.
Manager of Early Learning Programs
Our Booker T students took a break in the Sculpture Garden after all their hard work in the galleries! Read more about these fantastic students on Uncrated.
Originally posted on Dallas Museum of Art Uncrated:
It has often been said that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. With this in mind, a group of students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts recently gave gallery talks on a work of art in the DMA’s collection that they selected and researched themselves.
For several years, DMA Education staff have partnered with teachers at Booker T. Washington to work with two classes of Senior Visual Arts students throughout the school year. Among the many activities and concepts we explored over several months was to incorporate the students’ speech credit requirement by culminating the year with each of them giving a brief talk in the galleries.
All of the students presented interesting and fun introductions to their selected works of art! The range of works they selected was expansive—from grandiose neoclassical history paintings to intimate cloisonné Japanese vessels…
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Have you ever wondered what a painting might sound like if you could listen to it? With conductive ink, a Makey Makey, and some basic software, you can add a new level of interactivity to your artwork through the use of sound! In this guide, I’ll show you how to make a print that will make sounds when you touch it. These sounds are completely reprogrammable and can be changed on the fly, giving you lots of possibilities for what you can create.
A Makey Makey is an interface that connects to your computer which allows you to create your own tactile inputs that will take the place of certain keys on your keyboard.
For the purpose of this project, you’ll be using conductive ink to create three interactive areas on your work of art that will be hooked up to the Makey Makey and act in place of the arrow keys on your computer. We’ll then use Soundplant to map different sounds to those keys, which will allow those areas to play a sound when touched.
- Copy paper for making a stencil
- Exacto knife
- Cutting mat
- Conductive ink
- Screen printing screen
- Heavy printing paper
- Copper tape (optional)
- Makey Makey kit ($45; MakeyMakey.com)
- Soundplant software
Step 1: Screen print your image with the conductive ink.
I like the paper stencil method, but use whatever technique you like best. For help on printmaking with stencils, check out my past post on screen printing. Let your print dry fully before proceeding.
Step 2: Connect your print to the Makey Makey.
Again, for the purpose of this post, I’m choosing three areas on my print that will activate the Makey Makey when they are touched. You can connect them directly to the device using alligator clips (included in the kit). Remember to connect the clips to the proper inputs on the Makey Makey–in this case, the left, right, and up arrows.
Step 3: Upload some sounds.
I found a bunch of sounds for this project using free online sound libraries and saved them as mp3 flies on my computer. The Soundplant site has some good suggestions for libraries to use. I tried to look for sounds that would complement my print in a weird or unexpected way.
Step 4: Map your sounds to the keyboard using Soundplant.
Open up Soundplant and assign one sound file to each of the left, right, and up arrow keys by dragging the file onto the software’s virtual keyboard. Soundplant even offers some basic editing tools, allowing you to adjust the length of your sound clip, add various effects, and more!
Step 5: Connect the Makey Makey to the computer and play!
Plug the Makey Makey into your computer’s USB port. Be sure to also connect an extra alligator clip and wire to the space marked “Earth” at the bottom of the board. Hold the metal part of the alligator clip at the other end of the wire between your fingers and touch the interactive areas of your print with your other hand. Your computer should play the sounds you mapped to the different areas! You should also see the playback of your clip on the computer. If you’re having trouble getting it to work, make sure the volume is up on your computer, that all your connections are correct, and most importantly, that you are connected to the Makey Makey as well.
The fun part of this project is that the sounds you choose can totally change the way people experience your artwork. A set of funny, quirky sounds will provoke a very different response from the viewer versus ones that are dark and foreboding. And because the Makey Makey will work with most conductive materials, you can create interactive sculptures, installations, and more! Additional project ideas can be found on the Makey Makey website.
C3 Program Coordinator
As part of our McDermott Internship, each intern is able to request funds to use for professional development–this can go towards a language class, visiting other museums to learn more about their practices, or events like conferences. This year, some of us decided to attend the National Art Education Association Conference in New Orleans.
Always on board for some intern bonding, we decided to drive the 8 hours from Dallas to New Orleans. This was a great start to our trip, which has only gotten better since our arrival in the Big Easy! We’ve had a great time attending sessions, visiting local museums (New Orleans Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Contemporary Arts Center) and learning more about the field of museum education. Here are just a few pictures of our trip so far!
We’re looking forward to bringing the knowledge and new ideas we’ve heard at the conference back to the DMA!
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching