Arts / Museums

A First Look at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Vibrant New Exhibit

The Museum Is Closed Until Further Notice, So For Now, Explore "For a Dreamer of Houses" Through Photos

BY // 03.13.20

UPDATE: The DMA has announced that it will close today (March 13) at 5 pm and remain closed to the public until further notice. When The Museum reopens, this exhibit will be on display until January 31. 

Though all programming at the Dallas Museum of Art has been cancelled as of this morning (through April 3, 2020), the museum still plans to remain open during its regular hours, with a few extra precautions of course. “We will reassess the status and developments with the possibility of further revising operational plans,” reads part of a statement on their website.

If you do plan to visit the Arts District museum this weekend, you’re in for an excellent outing this Sunday, March 15, when the DMA’s newest exhibit, For a Dreamer of Houses, opens to the public. (It’s still on for now, but the best way to stay updated is to keep an eye on dma.org.)

The new exhibit demonstrates the power of domestic objects and structures, with over 50 works on display from the DMA’s collection in various media forms. Using forms derived from houses or furniture, the artists explore the ideas of belonging, alienation, and more. Artists Alex Da Corte, Fransisco Moreno, Pipilotti Rist, Olivia Erlanger, and Misty Keasler feature some of the most jaw-dropping pieces in the show, including Da Corte’s Rubber Pencil Devil (aka the Neon House) and Moreno’s Chapel.

dallas museum of art Alex-Da-Corte-Rubber-Pencil-Devil-1 (1)
“For a Dreamer of Houses” debuts at the DMA this weekend. (Courtesy of DMA)

As soon as you walk into the For a Dreamer of Houses exhibit in the DMA’s Barrel Vault, you’ll see the Neon House. A massive sculpture made of glass, aluminum, vinyl, velvet, and neon, the piece evokes a sense of homeyness. Inside, a screen rotates 57 clips of artist Philadelphia-based artist De Corte dressed up as childhood icons including Mr. Rogers. Moving in slow motion, the clips do also exhibit a dark sense of humor.

Organized thematically and corresponding to five chapters of Gaston Bachelard’s 1958 book The Poetics of SpaceRubber Pencil Devil is part of “Dialectics of Inside and Outside.” This section explores physical, psychological and social boundaries. Going into the space, I was told not to touch the piece, walk through the walls, or move the folding chairs. Only four people are allowed in the house at a time and yes, you can sit on the folding chairs and watch the video. Just don’t move them!

Take a few more turns into the next room to find yourself in “Intimate Immensity.” Here, you’ll find pieces that refer to the physical awareness that arises when realizing one’s small place in a vast world. Massachusetts Chandelier by Pipilotti Rist is made of many, many pairs of men’s and women’s underwear (don’t worry, it’s been washed). Another piece by Janine Antoni called Grope is comprised of men’s pants pockets.

For a Dreamer of Houses
Olivia Erlangers Pergusa is hard to take your eyes off of in “For a Dreamer of Houses.” (Photo by Megan Ziots)

Back through the corridor, you’ll pass Olivia Erlanger’s playful sculpture of a Maytag washing machine with a yellow mermaid tail sticking out of it. Pergusa is a part of the “Drawers, Chests, and Wardrobes” chapter, which features household objects that conceal private desires. Walk through into the next quadrant room and you’ll also find works by Sarah Lucas, EJ Hill, Robert Pruitt, and more.

To the left side of the Neon House, “Shells” interprets buildings as expressions of their inhabitant’s personalities. In Hub, Korean artist Do Ho Suh recreated an entryway to his childhood home in Seoul out of a delicate turquoise fabric. This space also includes photographs that depict living spaces by 15 artists including Judy Fiskin, Annette Lawrence, and Misty Keasler. Keasler’s Green Room (Quarenteen) is a photo she took when working at an orphanage in Romania.

Misty Keasler
Green Room by Misty Keasler (Courtesy of DMA)

“I’ve always been fascinated by interiors,” Keasler says. “Photography for so long has focused on faces and people that look the same through generations. Interiors are unique to culture and time.” After spending a summer in a Romanian orphanage, Keasler says that she would be holding babies and rocking them and in between, would make photographs while in the orphanage. “All the children would go through quarantine,” she says. “Volunteers would come in and paint the rooms all different colors to brighten the rooms. Some [children] never left quarantine for their whole lives.”

In the last section of the For a Dreamer of Houses exhibit, “Nests” focuses on rooms as containers for relationships. This includes Fransisco Moreno‘s Chapel, as well as paintings, photos, and works on paper by Jacob Lawrence, Clementine Hunter, Bill Owens, and more that show gatherings of friends and families. Moreno borrows a historical structure of the chapel, but personalizes the interior with drawings and paintings of culture references. Look closely at the interior walls and you’ll see intricate drawings of monster trucks, robotic cats, people, roses, and more geometric shapes.

 

For a Dreamer of Houses
“Chapel” by Fransisco Moreno. (Photo by Megan Ziots)

“I really like to draw and I’m always looking for ways to push drawing to the limit in unconventional ways,” says Moreno. “When I started I didn’t know what I was getting into. I just started drawing and painting.” When you walk inside of the chapel, it definitely has a homey feel, especially with the keyhole of light that emits from the back of the structure. Although there isn’t anywhere to sit inside, you could spend several minutes discovering new and surprising objects in the walls.

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