Think back to your favorite scene in a movie. Was it action packed? Romantic? Full of suspense? Chances are that the music—the film’s score—helped create the mood of the scene.
Now think about your favorite work of art. How would you describe its mood or feeling? How did the artist convey that mood? When we describe the mood of a work of art, we typically think about visual elements like color, the quality of the brushstrokes, and composition. But sometimes, even with a work of art, music can enhance your experience.
We recently paired up with two local musicians, Clint Niosi and Claire Hecko, and invited them to imagine one minute “film scores” for a handful of works of art in the 18th Century European Gallery. Meet the musicians, learn about their process, and hear a sample of their work below.
Tell us about yourselves-in 50 words or less.
Clint Niosi: I’m a songwriter, film score composer, and audio engineer from Fort Worth. I also work as a Digital Technology Specialist for the Art + Art History Department at UT Arlington.
Claire Hecko: INFP, musician, composer, picture maker, seamstress, cat lover and motorcycle enthusiast, among other things. My primary instruments are viola and bass. I like long walks in the desert and good manners.
How would you describe your process of creating a “score” for a work of art?
Clint Niosi: While I wasn’t really sure how to approach it initially, I ended up using basically the same process I would have used for a film score. I try to find the emotional core of the scene and use the music to help move the story forward. Once I feel like I’ve found the mood I add or take away layers until it feels right with the picture.
Claire Hecko: I have very little education in music theory, so I’m not entirely sure how to best describe my process. I consider the feelings I want to embody in a piece and try to determine how to best represent them musically. Often, this entails picking up an instrument and just playing around on it until I come up with something that will serve as a foundation for the piece. From there, I begin adding layers to build a complete composition.
Were there any challenges?
Clint Niosi: Yes there were. Creating a modern composition outside the historical milieu in which the paintings are set seemed very daunting. Also, the limited duration of the format (one minute per piece) was an additional challenge. Some of the paintings have very complex stories and complicated emotions to convey. Ultimately I just dove in and had fun with it.
Claire Hecko: My biggest challenge was creating the “score” for The Harp Lesson by Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust – I had many ideas, but no access to (or training to play) a harp. Thankfully, technology allowed me to replicate the sound of a harp on a laptop.
What did you enjoy most about this opportunity?
Clint Niosi: It was such a treat to have a chance to collaborate with the DMA. I’m an art enthusiast and a long time fan of the DMA’s permanent collection. The chance to dive into something like this is something I will always remember. It was a learning experience.
Claire Hecko: My degree is in Art History, a subject close to my heart. The opportunity to represent a work of art through music was very exciting for me!
Stop by the Pop-Up Art Spot this Saturday to check out an iPod and listen to the “film scores” composed and recorded by Clint Niosi and Claire Hecko.
Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections
Manager of Access Programs
It’s April 1861, and Virginia has just seceded from the Union. Mary Bowser, a former slave, is recruited for a life-changing and dangerous mission—to act as a spy in the Confederate White House. Joining the staff as a maid, Mary finds herself in a position to smuggle out the secrets she finds on President Jefferson Davis’ desk. Hiding information in dress linings, passing secrets through the baker, sending coded messages using laundry hanging in the window—Mary’s life as a spy has all the elements of a suspenseful action movie!
Join us next Tuesday, February 28, when the acclaimed acting troupe The Story Pirates present Spy on History LIVE! and bring Mary’s story to life. The Story Pirates’ shows are interactive, engaging, and sneakily educational—and this one is like enrolling in Spycraft 101. The audience will learn spy techniques during the show (similar to the ones Mary used) to crack the mystery-within-a-mystery.
If Mary were alive today, I’d love to take her on a special tour of the Museum’s collection, showing her objects that might have a deeply personal meaning for her.
After the show, you can pick up a copy of the new children’s book Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring to learn even more about Mary’s life and practice your new spy skills.
Reserve your FREE tickets to Spy on History LIVE! here.
Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs
February 12-18 is Random Acts of Kindness week, when individuals are encouraged to make the world a little kinder through small acts of good will. In the spirit of giving back, we have many visitors who stop by the Center for Creative Connections each day to leave behind notes of encouragement at the writing activity. We’ve been collecting these responses over the past several months and wanted to share a selection of our favorite notes with you! Click to enlarge each image and enjoy the thoughtful words of our visitors.
We hope you will all make a visit to the Center for Creative Connections soon and write your own encouraging notes. Even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference!
Volunteer Coordinator for Programming
The DMA’s Teen Advisory Council has been hard at work brainstorming new ways to connect our visitors with our collection and exhibits. You may have already experienced their handiwork for yourself: from Late Nights to alternative bite-sized tours, members of the Council never cease to amaze with how creatively they interpret works of art at the Museum.
This year, the Council is taking a deeper, experimental approach to making the DMA a comfortable place for visitors–especially teens–to be themselves. In an initial brainstorming meeting, the Council reflected on the stereotype that millennials are connected 24/7 to technology: that they can’t put their phones down and prefer texting over face to face conversation.
However, teenagers know that always being connected has consequences. While their friends are always a text away, they’re also connected to people and things they wish they could get away from. Leaving school for the day will not keep a teenager safe from bullies anymore. Apps allow teachers to text students after hours and on weekends. Young people are bombarded constantly by international tragedy and injustice on their social media feeds. Constant access to technology leaves teenagers without a safe space, so the Teen Advisory Council decided to create one.
On January 5th, they hosted Disconnect to Reconnect, an event that encouraged visitors to put away their cell phones and engage with the art and each other. Council members designed activities to encourage conversation and reflection. Visitors started dialogues on our atrium tables, and contributed to a zine that reflects their personal aesthetic.
The Teen Council also led their own tours, scavenger hunts, and workshops. True Colors tours took visitors on a journey of self-discovery with artwork that shared their personality, while Kendra Greene’s Spoken Word workshop used art as a catalyst for poets to say something about themselves.
Watching the Teen Council plan Disconnect to Reconnect has been an amazing experience. The programs presented at the event were written entirely by Council members and required minimal staff feedback or oversight. During the planning process and the night of, they had to make decisions about content and logistics that would be difficult even for adult educators – and handled it all with their typical optimism and cool. We’re very proud of them, and can’t wait to see what they do next!
If you or a teenager you know is interested in volunteering at the DMA, more information is available on our website. And don’t miss the Teen Advisory Council at Late Night Creations this Friday, February 17!
Manager of Teen Programs
When you find yourself in a room with Rose Davis, it is clear that she is not someone who goes unnoticed. She is warm and charismatic, a person who naturally bonds with a wide range of visitors and staff at the Museum. While it’s her job to observe visitors and make sure they engage with artwork safely, Rose often goes the extra mile and offers her own special discoveries and insights into the Museum’s collection.
Rose has been a gallery attendant at the DMA for only 10 months, but in that time she’s grown very fond of one work of art in particular, The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church. About a month ago, during a walk through of the 4th floor galleries, Rose engaged me in a conversation about The Icebergs. She asked us if we’d ever noticed the hidden figures in the painting. Rose excitedly told us about her growing collection of hidden characters in the painting, noting to us that she is continually discovering more as she spends more time with the piece.
Two weeks later, I came back to The Icebergs with Rose and asked her to walk me through each hidden figure she’d discovered. Her first discovery was the gorilla. Then one day when the gallery was empty, she took her first “closer look” and the rest snowballed: a mermaid, a mummy, animals, faces in the ice, and many more. With some laughter in her voice she explained to me that when she first began sharing her discoveries with others, they were skeptical of her, but as soon as they could find one figure in the painting they’d be itching to find another. Below are some of my favorites she shared with us (which I’ve outlined in red). What hidden images will you discover when you look closely at The Icebergs?
We often think of gallery attendants as people who protect works of art by keeping us from getting too close, but as I’ve learned from Rose, you can “get close” to art in different ways, like absorbing the little details in a painting. Gallery attendants spend a lot of time with our permanent collection, so don’t be shy! Next time you’re exploring our galleries, say hello and ask them what they know. The answers might surprise you!
Center for Creative Connections Coordinator
With February having only just begun, you might be wondering why my mind is already on summer. Well, camp, that is.
Drum roll please…Summer Art Camp Internship applications are now open!!
Summer Art Camp Interns work closely with the DMA’s art camp teachers to help facilitate art projects, gallery games, and all around FUN. One of the things I am most excited for this summer is that Summer Art Camp Interns will have the opportunity to work in teams guided by staff to plan and facilitate their own camp! How cool is that? In case you’re not convinced, allow me to bombard you with photos from our 2016 camps – these fun faces can say much more than I ever could.
We’re accepting applications for the Summer Art Camp Internship until Friday, March 17, 2017. Don’t worry parents: you can find more information on our 2017 summer camps—registration opens March 2!!—here.
Throughout January, our preschool visitors went on an imaginary space journey through the contemporary galleries where they learned about outer space and the roles of astronauts. We pretended Martin Puryear’s Noblesse O. was our rocket ship as we blasted off to look for new planets in the Museum. Some of the planets we discovered were John Chamberlain’s Dancing Duke and Alejandro Puente’s Untitled. The kids were asked which planet they would live on, and what else they would find there. Lots of young explorers said Dancing Duke would be full of robots and skyscrapers, while Untitled would be very cold and icy!
After our gallery adventure, the kids went to the art studio to make some outer space art to take home. For Arturo’s Art and Me classes, the young space explorers made galaxy paintings. The studio was split into two stations: the first was a splatter paint station to fill up their night sky canvas with colorful stars, and the second, a shaving creme station where they made planets for their galaxy.
The young artists gently dipped, dabbed, and dripped onto their backgrounds.
(Some not so gently…Our friend here doesn’t seem too upset about the paint on her face and hair bow though!)
Once their backgrounds were completed, it was on to the shaving creme station. Here, kids dripped vibrant liquid watercolor into trays of shaving creme, then swirled it together to create a beautiful planet pattern. Next, they pressed pre-cut circles into the shaving creme, then squeegeed off the excess creme to reveal a beautiful intergalactic swirl left below!
Next, the young artists glued their planets onto their backgrounds, and viola! A whole new out of this world galaxy painting. Their work speaks for itself, I think!
This activity is super easy to do at home! If you don’t have liquid watercolor to add to the shaving creme, food coloring works great too! If you need some more instructions on the shaving creme prints, check out Jennifer’s great blog post on the topic, and if you are interested in attending Arturo’s Art and Me or any of the other great classes at the DMA, click here!
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching