Special “Eye” to Watch
June Mattingly // contributing art writer
“Encountering Space” exhibit in the Center
for Creative Connections or C3 Gallery in
the Dallas Museum of Art
C3 stands for Center, Create, and Connect. Pass by the gift shop and continue onto
the Center for Creative Connections on the left on the first floor, devoted to explore
the creative spirit in guided interactive experiences by connecting with artists and
real works of art. Architecturally designed flowing spaces are filled with exceptional
light and generous wall space to display works of art of participating art-makers and
out of the museum’s own collection. Surrounding C3 are the Museum’s encyclopedic
collections which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 5,000 years of history,
representing a full range of world cultures. The Center hosted more than 150,000 visitors
its first year or roughly 30% of the 600,000 Museum visitors.
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|“Encountering Space” on view through August 2012, C3’s second groundbreaking exhibit,
features 12 works drawn from the DMA’s collections to encourage viewers to no longer be
passive observers, instead to actively participate. For example, the painting “Eiffel Tower”
by Robert Delaunay portrays a disorienting bird’s-eye view of the Tower. Installed on a
platform next to it is a metal three-and-a-half-foot model of it with a mirror placed above
to experience the point of view that the artist portrays in his painting. The sculptures of
Michelangelo Pistoletto and Alberto Giacometti, a 16th-century wooden plaque from
Nigeria, and an ancient clay vessel from Peru explore different ways space affects us
and the impact of these reactions on our experience with a work of art. A painting can
show us real spaces in a way that makes us feel as if we could actually enter those
spaces. Sculptures can draw us into their spaces like the DMA’s outdoor Fleischner
Courtyard does, literally part of the exhibit.
|Brand new is a series of rotating special participatory activities such as the SMU faculty’s
and alumni’s first of four Community Partner Responses titled “Living Room,” an installation
to actively combine physical and perceptual experiences in a space reacting to the
visitor’s presence through changes in sensory aspects— sound, visual elements, and
bodily sense using custom software. Occupying a whole wall is the Monitor Wall with
more than a dozen LED screens that broadcast a rotating series of images from visitor-
supplied photography to images of space as expressed in works in the DMA’s collections.
In another station, Doodle Drawing an accordion folded printed sketch pad on a
clipboard accompanied by pencils contains a series of drawing boxes, each with
a few lines to start.
|Within 12,000-square-feet is a learning space for children under the age of four called
Arturo’s Nest, a Young Learners Gallery for children 5–8 and their adult companions, a
Theater and a Tech Lab. C3 has evolved into a national model for interactive arts
education by presenting over 1,000 programs for children and adults and hosting more
than 370 artists, from painters, storytellers, and poets to filmmakers, sound designers,
and photographers. For grown-ups are Thursday night and Saturdays drop-in programs.
Once Susan Diachisin, the Director of C3 received her Masters from the Harvard School
of Education she embarked on contemporary art related projects. Since 2008, she and
her experienced staff arrange creative and educational classes and workshops. A
schedule of events and programs is always on DallasMuseumofArt.org\C3.
|The entrance sets the tone that “viscerally” announces a new kind of space. Walls are
no longer made of straight lines and square corners. An “immersive” beaded curtain wall
allows visitors to see through and enter the actual space. Projected words describe types
of space: Crowded, Vacant, Open, Intimate, Deep, Shallow, Narrow, Wide, Vast, Tight,
Cozy, Confined, Sparse, Enclosed, Cramped, Boundless, Voluminous, Snug, Uncluttered,
Airy, Inviting, Welcoming, Bare, Empty, Austere. And video labels now accompany works
of art to provide contextual information related to space as a theme.