Dallas Museum of Art's Center for Creative Connections Premieres Woven Records, Its First Community Response Art Project With A Single Artist

The New Installation Will Be On View February 7-May 23, 2010

The first community response art project in conjunction with a single artist’s work will premiere at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Center for Creative Connections (C3) on February 7. Spearheaded by Susan Diachisin, The Kelli and Allen Questrom Director of the Center for Creative Connections, the new installation, Woven Records, was designed and executed by Lesli Robertson, a Dallas-based artist known for her fiber installation pieces that have a strong history and relation to numerous cultures, along with Ms. Diachisin and the DMA staff.

“This project is an excellent example of what the Center for Creative Connections is all about: creatively seeing, making, and connecting art and people together in unexpected ways,” said Susan Diachisin.

Six months in the making, Woven Records will be on view in the Cafe area of the Center from February 7 to May 23, 2010. For it, Ms. Diachisin, Ms. Robertson and the DMA staff worked with 16 community groups in North Texas and with visitors to the Museum to make small works of art. These were incorporated into the larger textile-based art installation that is now Woven Records.

“Choices of material can express something about an artist or creator, said Ms. Robertson. “Each collage in this installation was made by an individual from one of the Dallas Museum of Art’s communities—visitors, volunteers or members of the Museum’s partner organizations. Weaving their collages together allowed me to connect the participants in a new way. My intention is for them to see how they are a part of a larger community and how their contribution to it is vital.”

Since the project’s launch in July, Ms. Diachisin and Ms. Robertson worked with members from community organizations—ranging from ARC of Dallas, Tulisoma Learning Partnership Festival, an Ice House camp facilitated by the Museum, the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Dallas Arts District, and faculty from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts—and created over 580 collages. Collages by visitors to the DMA during its Thursday programs, volunteer groups and monthly Late Nights are also included.

For the project, participants made 1.5” x 1.5” personal collages out of everyday materials and preserved them in a concrete base. Each person was asked to use materials in their work that reflected a part of themselves; electronic components, natural fibers and metal were a few of the choices. At the completion of their collages, they were asked to describe in writing how these materials represent them, along with a sketch of their collage; parts of this documentation will be included in the final installation.

In October Ms. Robertson began building the framework for the installation by weaving strips of cloth into which the collages were inserted. The woven strips will be attached to a six-foot-high wall in the Center. Each element in the process of this project, from the community involvement, to the interaction of the collages within the cloth, to the amount of cloth that is woven, has led to the final outcome of the installation.

Additionally, a video will project the documentation gathered from the community collages onto the surface of a wall-sized loom in C3. As the community weaves the cloth from various materials on the loom, they will be building the screen for the video.

About Susan Diachisin, The Kelli and Allen Questrom Director of the Center for Creative Connections
Susan Diachisin, The Kelli and Allen Questrom Director of the Center for Creative Connections (C3), moved from Massachusetts to join the Dallas Museum of Art in January 2008 to direct the C3 and develop its exhibitions and programs. For over twenty-five years she has worked in all facets of nonprofit arts organizations in a multitude of positions and with people of all ages. The diversity of her past projects includes programming on the national, regional, and local levels. Since receiving her MEd. with a concentration in Arts in Education (Harvard Graduate School of Education), her programming achievements have focused on education in contemporary art organizations and museums.

Prior to joining the Dallas Museum of Art, she worked for seven years as Head of Gallery Learning at DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts, where the focus of her position was to direct exhibition interpretation, the museum guide program and public educational programming. She also served as Education Director at the Fuller Museum of Art, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and the New Art Center, where she initiated innovative programming that was nationally and locally recognized. In addition to her museum responsibilities, she has taught studio art, exhibited her own artwork and been a loyal volunteer at many arts organizations.

About Lesli Robertson
Lesli Robertson is an active member of the Dallas arts community, a curator and avid researcher, and a lecturer at the University of North Texas. She holds an MFA in Fibers from the University of North Texas and a BFA in Liberal Arts from Auburn University, and has completed additional artistic training at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Robertson’s current work stems from her ongoing research of African culture, which focuses on bark cloth from Uganda. Robertson is a recent recipient of The Arch and Anne Giles Kimbrough Fund from the Dallas Museum of Art, which supported her travel to Uganda for research. That research culminated in a three-phase interdisciplinary project, Renewing Material and the Handmade: The Story of Ugandan Bark Cloth, exhibited at the University of North Texas Art Gallery in Denton, Texas. In addition to exhibiting artwork in a number of solo and group exhibitions, Robertson has published several articles in leading textile journals.

About The Center for Creative Connections
The Center for Creative Connections (C3) offers an environment for visitors of all ages to have a creative, educational experience with real works of art. C3 is an expansive 12,000 sq. ft. space consisting of the centrally located exhibition and several distinct learning areas. The learning areas include the Art Studio, an interactive learning space for children under the age of four called Arturo’s Nest, a Young Learners Gallery for children 5-8 and their families, a theater and a Tech Lab. C3 hosted more than 150,000 visitors in its first year. Today, this translates as roughly 30% of all Museum visitors. Since the opening of the Center for Creative Connections in May 2008, three earlier installations by area high school and university students have been on view.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum today welcomes more than 700,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.