Docents are one of the best assets to museums. They volunteer their time to learn in-depth about exhibitions and then share their learned knowledge with visitors on guided tours. They field questions and comments about art, the process of art, and who it is making art in order to aide patrons to a better understanding of something that can be intimidating. It’s a stimulating exchange of ideas and insight between guide and guest.
KMAC recently revived the docent program and we welcome Dana Moore and Gretchen Treitz Brown to the team of dedicated museum volunteers. The current exhibition The New Art of the Loom is their second exhibition giving guided tours. They also guide school field trip tours. Docent tours are available every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month at 3pm. Simply meet at KMAC’s front reception desk. There is no added fee for the guided tour.
We asked Dana and Gretchen to give us a few observations about being a docent and how they came to volunteer at KMAC.
Gretchen Treitz Brown
“As a docent, I provide tours to facilitate a rewarding museum experience. I love to help the viewer connect with a piece. I feel privileged to receive the training from KMAC curators and educators. At KMAC, there is a rich and diverse audience; my experience has been with local, national, and international visitors. My conversations with visitors bring out more and different ways to view things–visitors and docents can interact and learn from each other. Each time I give a tour, I notice something new. Something magical happens when a visitor takes the time to contemplate a detail I might point out. I tend to talk about my favorite pieces, however, it has been so valuable to learn about an unfamiliar artist or process. Besides the continuous training process, I enjoy the additional reading and studying about each exhibit. I can answer questions, thus offering a more satisfying experience. My interactions with a piece are heightened when visitors share their insights, whether students or adults. Because I have a significant commitment to the visual arts, it has been a joy to attend curator tours, lectures, exhibition openings, orientation, and on-going training.”
“I first became aware of KMAC when my son was small and he participated in Winter Break workshops and Summer Art Camp. I have participated in several hands-on workshops and even worked with metal in a session taught by Craig Kaviar.
I’ve always had an interest in art since childhood and love the process that goes into creating an artwork. My family loves to travel and museums are always on our list of places to visit.
I am a retired Speech Language Pathologist who worked primarily in the public schools. Volunteering as a Docent will still let me show students the process and creative thought that goes into a work of art. I like listening to the KMAC staff and always look forward to learning and seeing new exhibits.”
If you’re passionate about art and love to share this excitement with others, consider becoming a KMAC docent. Email Dane at email@example.com for more details.
KMAC Educator, Sarah McCartt-Jackson, said, “the Museum has made and enriched connections with many organizations and voices that otherwise might be unheard, marginalized, or misunderstood.” Mrs. McCartt-Jackson helped in facilitating the students from the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program at Jefferson Community & Technical College (JCTC), which provide a great example of these powerful stories:
“Coming to America is a big dream for many people but living is different reality.”
“The languages of the world wake me up every day! I love the sea. I am snow. My name is your name. I believe in music. One world, many voices”
“My name is Mohamed. I was born in Somalia and grown up in Kenya. Came to America in the age of 19 years. My English was very bad. Coming to the United States was very good opportunity for my family and I. The reason I go to school today is to get my social work degree!”
The Weft Phase of the project is crafted by weaving in additional story cloths from Museum visitors, which continues throughout The New Art of the Loom exhibit (January 25). Blank story cloths are available and located in the second floor gallery.
The Little Loomhouse
The mission of the Little Loomhouse is to promote the Lou Tate landmark home and center for textile art and education as a cultural destination through preservation of the three historic cabins and education of textile folk art for all ages. The Little Loomhouse is owned and operated by the Lou Tate Foundation.
KMAC Current Exhibition
The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry and Looming Local: Contemporary Kentucky Tapestry feature artists who explore a broad range of themes from cultural identity and formalism to storytelling and history through the labor-intensive process of weaving.
KMAC has gone stark weaving mad.
Artists from 16 countries currently fill our two main galleries with over two-dozen loom woven works. Shown in conjunction with the traveling exhibit The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry, KMAC has organized Looming Local as a response to some of the issues raised by the international artists. The works on view range in size and content from the large 8 ½ x 11 foot tapestry Porter with Bicycle: Espagne et Portugal by South African artist William Kentridge to the small, intricate and colorful weavings by Kentucky artist Tori Kleinert.
The New Art of the Loom consists of contemporary tapestries that connect with the large, ambitious, narrative works that dominated artistic production in early Modern Europe. These early tapestries functioned as a decorative way to display a coat of arms, relay a familiar story or to illustrate scenes of victorious battles, but they also provided warmth, covering the walls of large drafty castles. After falling out of favor due to growing feminine and domestic undertones the tapestry was revived by British art activist William Morris in the late 19th century, making weaving fundamental to a burgeoning international design movement that promoted artisanship and hand-made activity.
Looming Local takes a peek at the immediate surroundings of the museum to show how four artists are exploring similar issues as their international counterparts and taking the weaving tradition into the more creative, expressionistic contemporary art form that it is today. Both exhibits combined communicate a broad range of materials, methods and multiple weaving processes. The four artists represented in the local show, though rooted in a loom based practice, are markedly different from their peers in technique and composition.
Dobree Adams creates loom woven works that capture the landscape in a manner intended to evoke the intermediate or transitional states that are associated with Tibetan Buddhism. The spiritual and meditative qualities that imbue her work connect well with other artists on show in the museum who deal similarly with nature, particularly with the tapestry “Without Notice” by the Japanese artist Miyuki Tatsumi. Adams and Tatsumi are both drawn to the calmness of nature, but also to its power to change and dominate our lives in mysterious ways and without warning.
Tori Kleinert’s small format works, though diminutive in size, are big in meaning and content. They pack in loads of bold color and act as deeply personal explorations of ideas and emotions often connected to the history of female craft activity. She refers to the figures in her work as ancestors or semblances, an evocation of the spirits who live on informing the work of contemporary tapestry artists from around the world. Kleinert’s Terroristic Semblance from 2003/2004 commemorates the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001.
A sharp use of color adds intensity to her subject matter and relates to New Art of the Loom artist Christine Altona’s work, also from 2004. Based on an article in the Boston Globe about alleged child abuse, Altona created this particular tapestry as a tribute to the children who have been abused in the Roman Catholic Church. Several red cardinal hats are placed at the top of the work above a knotted red circle, suggesting the strong and powerful looking down on the weak bound together in struggle. The blue represents the earth and the prevalence of this transgression around the world.
Arturo Sandoval is an art professor at the University of Kentucky and a well-known weaver from the region. His sole work in the show is part of a long running series that looks at American democracy and one of the most potent symbols of our culture, the American flag. Sandoval conceived the State of the Union series in order to work through personal issues related to his time serving in the Vietnam War. His desire to create a political art series was to commemorate the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who lost their lives in battle. The newspaper headlines and magazine images that are woven into this series were initially collected from 1980-1984. He has since continued the series as way to further express his feelings toward the recent war in Iraq.
The most divergent work away from any form of traditional tapestry seen in either the local or international exhibit comes from Looming Local artist Philis Alvic from Lexington, KY. Her recent work consists of assembling remnants of older tapestries into fabric constructions, which she refers to as Portals. In this ongoing series of works, suggestive of windows, doors, and curtains, she intends to communicate the ideas of transition, passage, and change. Through the technique of fabric collage and drapery these works move into the more three-dimensional space of wall sculpture.
As Alvic digs through her own personal archive incorporating material from previous work she evokes the idea of the artist entering a metaphorical portal, passing from one era of creativity and production into another. In this particular series of works Alvic is weaving together remnants as well as personal histories. There are a number of transitional concepts related to creative growth and change that could be applied to this series. The idea of the portal as a signifier for moving from one period of life into another is an important factor in the life of every artist. It can often be a struggle to shift focus and enter new unknown territory, but it can also be a time when an individual artist develops greater clarity and confidence in their work.
It seems kind of fitting that on Election Day, KMAC’s Education Studio launched the inaugural use of a hi-tech tool that will help in teaching to the masses. Through the generous donations of the KMAC Board of Directors, the Education Department was able to purchase a much-needed document camera and projector. The Elmo TT-12i Interactive Document Camera System allows museum educators to demonstrate more complex art skills from a central demo table without having to spend valuable time demonstrating to each individual table. As we know, field trips are on a very strict schedule and educators must balance the tour, instruction, and make time carefully. Oh, and don’t forget about lunch! The Elmo, with its cute name and conjuring of that well known red Muppet, also has a built-in microphone and recording ability so the Ed team can prepare instruction videos in advance.
Additionally, the Education Department was able to purchase a IN114a XGA 3000 Lumen DLP Projection System in order to use the document camera and to show videos, Power Point presentations, and interactive websites to enhance the art curriculum. In ode to our forefathers, here’s to Life , Liberty and the pursuit of Art.
KMAC APPROVES THIS MESSAGE.
A Special Thank You to Kat Lewis, Daniel Maye, Elizabeth Mays, and Mary Stone for their generous donations.
I grew up in West Louisville. I dreamed of raising my family in the beautiful homes surrounding Chickasaw Park and Shawnee Park. I admired the African-American doctors, lawyers, and teachers who were the anchors of our community. I played with the children of my father’s friends, who, like my father, worked in Louisville’s numerous factories. Our parents hadn’t finished college, but the factory jobs they held at General Electric, Phillip Morris, Ford, DuPont, and Brown-Forman paid for the comfortable homes in thriving communities.
My life’s journey took me away from Louisville for almost two decades. Upon my return, the thriving neighborhoods of my youth had transformed into something unfamiliar. Small pockets of prosperity clung to the remnants of a thriving past. Abandoned and vacant properties seemed to be the norm. Entire blocks were marred with the blackened eyes of boarded over homes. They were more than a community eyesore. They negatively impacted the emotional and physical health of a community. The hopelessness associated with boarded up homes can lead to irresponsible choices. The worst of these choices leads to violence. The numerous teddy bear shrines dotting West Louisville serve as proof to this point.
I became concerned about the overabundance of vacant and abandoned properties in West Louisville. I had once lived in Chicago, a city known for its remarkable public art, and there I saw artists transform vacant spaces into inspiring community works of art. I felt public art could be a vehicle for change and growth in West Louisville too.
A friend, who assisted me in transforming a vacant apartment building in Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood into an artistic symbol of hope, heard of Mayor Greg Fischer’s Lots of Possibility Competition. Mayor Fischer was asking residents to submit creative ideas for reusing four lots owned by the city’s Landbank Authority. I founded the West Louisville Women’s Coalition (WLWC) with the help of KMAC board member Chenoweth Allen and local entrepreneur Robin Bray and submitted a proposal. WLWC is a diverse group of nine Louisville women with a mission to create and sustain artistic, peaceful spaces in West Louisville. Our Lots of Possibility proposal would transform a small vacant lot into a Meditation Labyrinth formed from hundreds of bricks painted with inspirational messages from the residents and community supporters of West Louisville. The Meditation Labyrinth was selected as one of the four winners in the competition. Shortly after the announcement, I started my new position at KMAC as an Art Educator and after hearing about the project, KMAC became a Peaceful Partner and provided an artist to assist with the project. After hundreds of volunteer hours, the Meditation Labyrinth, which will be named the Peace Labyrinth, is finally complete.
The Peace Labyrinth will be dedicated, Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm. The lot is located at 3831 Hale Ave, Louisville, KY 40216. The dedication will include a performance by the River City Drum Corps, a message from Mayor Greg Fischer, and a candlelit inaugural peace walk through the labyrinth. This is a free event and open to the public. This dedication ceremony marks the completion of the first step in transforming a vacant lot into an intergenerational community space for peace. It will host monthly peace walks, quarterly visual art activities, and other community programming.
Written by Ramona Lindsey, KMAC Art Educator
KMAC ‘s Donors Circle brought a hale and hearty group of 14 to EXPO Chicago a week and a half ago. We spent our days cruising the contemporary art offerings out on the Navy Pier. In the afternoon, we enjoyed Kentucky hospitality in the form of tastings of Old Forester provided by Brown-Forman happening at the KMAC booth, which featured selections from recent museum exhibitions: Denise Burge, Matthew Ronay, Elijah Pierce and more.
Outside the art fair, we had the opportunity to visit some outstanding private collections including those of Paul and De Gray, Gary Metzner and Scott Johnson, Richard and Ellen Sandor, and Susan Goodman and Rod Lubeznik.
On Friday, September 19th, Richard and Ellen Sandor impressed us with their extensive body of photography and related objects (over 2,000 pieces from the 1840s to the present) and awed with their encyclopedic knowledge of the contexts in which their historical images were conceived. I especially admired a photo of poet Marianne Moore in her tricorn hat/George Washington getup. The couple’s “Outsider Café”features well-known naïve and intuitive artists Lee Godie, Martin Ramirez, Sharon Scott, and Bill Traylor.
On Friday night, we attended gallery openings at Kavi Gupta’s two spaces. I particularly enjoyed watching a documentary that Mickalene Thomas created in memory of her mother, who many will recognize as the principal subject of her work. The film plays continuously in a family room setting, complete with wood paneling, a sofa, and coffee table. That night, Kavi Gupta graciously included us in a party at his place, where we mingled with art stars like Jessica Stockholder. Kavi put a picture of Martha Slaughter and Henry Heuser on Instagram!
On Saturday morning, we ventured to the Gold Coast—where we took in magnificent panoramic views of Lake Michigan at the home of Susan Goodman and Rod Lubeznik. Our group took note of a ceramic portrait bust by Klara Kristalova and a felt piece (resembling a Matisse paper cut-out) by William J. O’Brien. In the bathroom sits a humorous multi-media sculpture by Tokyo-based artist Ken Kagami.
On our final morning in Chicago, we stopped at the warehouse studio of Tony Tasset (husband of well-known Chicago painter Judy Ledgerwood) who manipulates quintessential American imagery in bold colors. He chooses to work in a vernacular of existing genres to communicate with simple signs. His egalitarian, open system of meaning resembles a love letter to 70s super graphic art (such as Robert Indiana).
We had an absolute blast in Chicago. And I am now rested enough to say that I enthusiastically anticipate the next Donors’ Circle trip—to New York City in March! I hope you can join us.
–Leslie Millar, KMAC Donor Circle Member
By Liz Richter, KMAC Art Educator
This spring, we had the pleasure of working with Coleridge-Taylor Montessori, one of two Montessori’s in JCPS, as a part of our scholastic artist in residency program here at KMAC. We collaborated with CTM Principal Yvette Stockwell and PTA member Kate Kolb to create a custom residency package with 4th and 5th grade students. They expressed the vision to create something really memorable and impactful for the students. From the time that I walked into the school, I had my eye on the big, empty brick walls that framed the entrance of the lobby. I started researching collaborative clay mural techniques that worked well with elementary students and started sketching a “free form”mosaic approach, where hand-built circle shapes would make up the image. After consulting with the PTA and principal, we chose a design inspired by their school logo, of a world surrounded by student portraits, and the words “Coleridge-Taylor Montessori.”
Over 175 students in 4-5th grade created a mural piece and coil pot and glazed both. We started by learning about clay and discussing the process of ceramics. One class made coils on slabs, which formed all of the letters, another class made tile portraits, and five classes made the world pieces. We decided on circle shapes for the water and leaf shapes for the earth. Their art room, which was a communal space this year, was a dusty, happy mess (don’t worry, we cleaned it up!). Some students had never used clay before, and were fascinated with the way the “texture tools” (odds and ends ranging from beads, to buttons, to small plastic sea creatures) created interesting embellishments to their tiles.
I purchased a nice variety of beautiful blues and greens for the land and water to create some variety in the design, and delegated colors to each table of students so that the variety was consistent. Some students even created little extra texture shapes for us to use as filler. With the help from Kate from the PTA, we were able to complete our projects in three sessions. After the students had also made their coil pots and glazed them with their favorite colors, we packed up all the clay and headed back to the museum to fire them in our kilns. I promised the students that they would get their beloved pots back as soon as we could, and I heard excited plans like “Mine is going to be a pencil holder!” and “I’m giving mine to my mom!”
Back at the museum, our education staff, volunteers and interns helped me sort, paint clear glaze, scrape and fire over 350 pieces. Our art handler, Ben Cook cut the large wooden pieces that would become the backing for the mural. Slowly but surely, the tiles came together to form what I had envisioned in my sketches. After delivering their pots to the school, we started gluing the mural pieces to the backing. I got excited seeing the earth shapes finally begin forming and could finally stop worrying about whether my mathematical planning was correct! After delivering the completed mural to the school, I went back to see it installed. Parents and students were coming in and out, and many stopped to see the new mural in its prime location.
“This amazing mural reflects our Coleridge-Taylor Montessori spirit of collaboration and individuality. Each piece was designed and created by an intermediate student. Thanks to our artist-in-residence and PTA parents for helping to make this possible!” -Principal Yvette Stockwell