Mollie Jamison


Shoes & Stories

Wondering what our second annual Shoes & Stories event on August 14th is all about? Susan, who attended the inaugural event, shares what it was like to do a storytelling and sneaker decorating activity with her daughter.

What was the most memorable part about Shoes & Stories?

Watching my daughter and her friend figure out their “story” and then try to depict it on their shoes.

What was your daughter’s favorite part about the event?

>She loved the chance to be creative and decorate her shoes to reflect who she is… she also LOVED running around and playing at SPARK!

What did your daughter draw on her shoes and what was her inspiration?

She ended up just making an abstract design of her favorite colors and she LOVED them!

Were you surprised at all by her creation?

No, she is very creative and artistic and they ended up being a great representation of her.

Did the event bring you and your daughter closer?

I always think a unique experience that creates memories brings you closer.

Did you find it extra special that it was an all-girls event?

I think it was good that it was all-girls because I think it made it easier for them to be creative.

Would you recommend Shoes & Stories to your friends and why?

Absolutely! It is a fun, unique event that allows you to spend quality time with your child and create memories!

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Don’t miss out on this (girls only) creative experience for you and your daughter, niece or granddaughter! Tickets are $15 if you bring your own shoes; $25 if we supply them. Register here: sparkdallas.org/event/shoes-and-stories-2


Girl Scout Gold Award At SPARK!

Sixteen-year-old Mallory Rasco is working towards earning the highest achievement in Girl Scouts: the Gold Award. This seven-step project aims to impact the community in a big way. Lucky for us, Mallory has chosen to make an impact on SPARK! We can’t wait any longer to share her plans for a permanent installation in our creative environment. Read on to learn how she is transforming one long, dark tunnel into an out-of-this-world adventure.

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What was your source of inspiration for this project?

At the beginning, I was mainly thinking of big environments that would be interesting for kids to explore. That was when I initially thought of space, but then when I started thinking of cool details and activities to be in the tunnel, I used more of my personal knowledge. I’ve always enjoyed star gazing and Astronomy. I went to a weeklong Girl Scout Camp where I studied the stars, and I enjoyed myself immensely. I used all that I’ve learned to make the tunnel interesting and exciting for people to explore. So in total, my inspiration drew from my personal experience with studying the field and what I have enjoyed from my adventures.

What are some exciting elements of the project that we can expect to see?

Throughout the tunnel, it will look like a spaceship. There will be a control panel where kids can feel like they’re flying through space. I’m excited for this because I have been able to acquire actual pilot seats from Southwest Airlines to use for my project, so it will feel more genuine. And, at the end of the tunnel, I’ve designed it so it will look like the kids are floating in outer space, with constellations and stars and planets. Everything in there will be for kids to play with and enjoy themselves.

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From start to finish, how long do you expect to be working on this project?

I really started moving on this project at the beginning of June when I started thinking of the details in the tunnel. I am hoping to be done with most of the construction by the end of July. Then, I will finish up any last details and work on the paperwork for the Girl Scout Council in the first half of August, right before school starts. So, the entire project will last about two and a half months, basically all of summer.

What does earning the Gold Award mean to you?

Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award means the world to me. I have been a Girl Scout for eleven years, and everything has led up to this. I have already earned my Bronze and Silver Awards; to receive the Gold and finish the journey would give me the most amazing feeling. I will feel so satisfied with all the work I have done and the difference I can make for the kids.

Tell me why you chose to do your project at SPARK!

The first time I came to SPARK! I learned all about their message and goal. This is what told me that I needed to do my project here. I love everything that SPARK! promotes such as creativity and confidence. All of this is so important for children to hear, so that when they grow up, they can make a change in the world that we need.

How do you think this project will impact the community?

I hope that my project will impact children most of all. I want them to see how I brought something from my imagination to real life. I hope it will inspire higher confidence in themselves and their decisions when they design something or think of a different way to complete a task. It will teach them that if they work hard enough they can accomplish anything.

If you’d like to donate supplies to help Mallory with her project, check out her list of needs here.


Success Story: Camellia Gets Creative With Clay

At SPARK! we measure the success of a student’s visit in two ways:

  1. Did we help increase their self-definition as a creative individual?
  2. Did they begin to understand and use the creative process as we define it? (Inspiration with Iteration and Collaboration leads to Innovation.)

During her second consecutive week in our summer camp program, Camellia (or Cam), took another shot at sculpting. We are so thrilled to hear about her new understanding of creativity because of it. Here’s her story.

Name: Camellia

Age: 13

What school do you go to? J.L. Long Middle School

What sort of creative activities do you do at school? I’m not in art class anymore. The only creative thing I do is doodle on the sides of my papers.

Do you wish there were more opportunities to be creative at school? Yes. I’d like to work more with clay since I don’t buy it and I don’t have a kiln or any tools.Summer-Camp-Success-Story2

Tell me about your experience with sculpting clay at SPARK! for a second time this week. I did a wolf head. Ms. Raines gave me tools that helped me make the fur. I didn’t know I had to hollow things out. I like sculpting now because it is satisfying to do whatever you want with it and see at the end how beautiful it is. Clay is fun to use because it’s squishy.

Do you think it’s important to try things twice? Yes. I went all out the second time and did something I wanted to do instead. I finished in two days. It took some patience.

Did you improve? Yes.

How did you use iteration during your second sculpting experience? When I was doing the snout I noticed it was too long so I had to cut off different parts to see if it looked normal. The ears were hard because I had to put the back of them on first and then the curving inside. One ear looked kind of weird. I didn’t know if I should leave a part of it missing. I eventually made it look like it was cut off a little bit half way down. I definitely had a problem with the eyes. I couldn’t figure out how to do it with them open so I decided to do it with them closed. For the mouth, I just did lines to signify where it was. I wanted jowls to look more obvious so I had to add more clay to it.

Summer-Camp-Success-Story1Are you proud of yourself after seeing the final product? Yes. It looks better than what I thought it would. It does at least look like some sort of dog. Not a cat or anything. The fur actually looks like fur not just clay and triangles. It looks like a wolf.

Did you consider yourself creative before you came to SPARK! for camp? Yes.

At SPARK! we try to help kids understand that creativity isn’t just fine arts. Do you feel like you have a better sense of that now? I still identify creativity with art but now I see how it can relate to other things such as writing, ideas and stories.

What’s the most important thing about being creative? The most important thing is being able to do what you want. Putting whatever you think of onto paper.


Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program

After completing 35 hours of workforce readiness training, two participants of the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program have joined our staff for the summer. According to their website, the program aims to “introduce exemplary Dallas high school students to future careers, professional employment opportunities and valuable workplace skills while providing area companies, nonprofits and government entities a meaningful way to make an investment in the youth of Dallas and its future workforce.”

Each student is assigned an intern advisor through the program and is responsible for journaling about their experiences as well as completing numerous assignments throughout the summer. SPARK! is thrilled to participate in this program for the second year. Meet our two awesome interns Angie Gonzalez and Morgan Jones!

Angie Gonzalez, 16

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I am an amateur artist with a passion for monochrome paintings and have been studying art for five years. I plan to finish high school and attend Art Institute, to further my education in art studies and design. I then plan to teach high school art, while working on my reputation as a freelance artist. I love to teach and believe the best way to learn is through the creative process.

Morgan Jones, 16

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I attend W.W. Samuell Early College High School, and am on track to graduate high school with my Associates Degree in Applied Sciences from Eastfield College. After high school, I plan to attend Grambling State University for Sociology, then move on to Rice University do get a Masters Degree in Business Accounting.

I selected SPARK! for my summer internship because I have always liked arts and crafts, as well as doing my own creative things over the year. I also wanted to have the opportunity to get kids who weren’t already interested in the arts, and let them experience the importance of creativity firsthand. I share my passion of art through scrapbooking, and also taking and collecting polaroid pictures. 


Artist Spotlight: Lynn Raines

We’re so excited to welcome the newest member of the SPARK! team: Lynn Raines. After working as a SPARK! instructor for more than a year, Lynn started full-time this month to lead our summer camp programs.

Read on to learn how she’s taking charge of all creative curriculum and how she’s already used her own creativity to leave a mark on SPARK!

How’s it feel to be on board?

From the first day I peeked through the doors of SPARK! I was hooked. As an artist and a teacher, I am very excited about my full-time position as Programs Director AKA “Creative Guru.” My head is bursting with ideas of how to get kids experimenting with different materials and investigating new ideas at SPARK! and then taking those ideas home with them. I see SPARK! as a place for kids to become inspired and have opportunities to express their creativity though a variety of artistic adventures.

Describe what it’s like to work for SPARK!

It’s playful, inspiring and exciting. As a former art teacher I have experience coming up with ideas that engage and inspire kids. But at SPARK! I get to also teach the creative process – which is really rewarding. Once children start using the creative process they begin to understand how inventive they really are. I’ve watched their self-esteems rise as they see what they’re truly capable of. Not to mention that I get to see my own creations become a part of SPARK! That’s a major bonus for a practicing artist as myself!
Tell me about your latest installation at SPARK!
I was asked to come up with ways to incorporate a car wash into the Climb, Crawl, Slide Sculpture. I researched, went through few a car washes and eventually ended up at a scrap yard taking apart an ’86 Jaguar. The front end of the car can now be seen while exploring our space. I’m looking forward to adding more detail to the carwash installation including a stoplight and bubbles. I can’t wait to incorporate more interactive art pieces like this one into the SPARK! space.
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Samsung Gives

Samsung-Volunteers

Last week, 20 Samsung Volunteers chose to spend their community service day at SPARK! They spent more than four hours cleaning, setting up for events and adding to our creative environment.

Volunteering as a group at SPARK! is a great way to offer support, but it also helps employees get to know each other by working together, outside of the office.

SPARK! has also hosted corporate volunteers from Mercedes-Benz, VHA, Fossil and Neiman Marcus. Activities can range from decorating for themed events to testing new programming activities.

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Send an email to volunteers@sparkdallas.org if you’re interested in hosting a corporate volunteer day at SPARK! Learn about additional volunteer opportunities here.


Artist Spotlight: Jesse Larson

We sat down with Creative Collaborator Jesse Larson to talk about his lighting installation and associated paintings on the gallery level. Read on to learn where he found inspiration for the pieces as well as what types of challenges he ran into on his journey to complete them.

What was your inspiration for this project?

It was really just the chance to be involved with something as unique and creative as SPARK! I knew President and C.E.O. Beverly Davis had some great artists involved, so I had to step up my game a little to be in the same room as the other pieces of work.

Did you collaborate with anyone on this?

No, I just took in the art that was being done by the other artists. The themes I saw were water, metamorphosis, and flight. I came up with an idea and sent Ms. Davis the sketches and she said “OK, do it!”

What did you envision and did that vision come to life?

I based the four piece painting on the idea of a “galactic metamorphosis of water.” It represents the stability of planets and solar energy traveling through the depths of deep space. This is where ice or water, in its physical state, melts into the liquid necessary to sustain life. That’s the short version of my idea. I think I brought that to life, but more importantly I think people can look at it and make up their own story.

There is a 5th painting that was an after-thought. Ms. Davis asked if I could do one more piece to fill the last wall space so I did another painting with the idea of earth being part space station and part Death Star.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

For me it was keeping the designs in proportion. This is the biggest piece of work I’ve ever done. I’ve mostly done stuff for logos or smaller paintings. I like tight lines and intricate details and sometimes I start to see things in small portions. With suspended pieces of this size, I really had to think through “what will people see?”

How long did it take?

Considering that I didn’t work on it every day, I would guess 40 hours.

Tell me about your creative process.

For me it’s opportunity. I take what people like or what they ask for and then turn it into what they really meant, but couldn’t see yet! I like the challenge of “can I do it?” I’ll sometimes do things that I’ve never done before, like the large paintings, and while I’m doing new things I’ll see something else in that work and keep it on the back burner for a new project. My creative process revolves around what’s possible when you have no idea how things are going to turn out. Trust me, I’ve had to get really creative to save a whole piece before!

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your other work in the SPARK! space?

I’ve never lit up a creative space before, but I saw the opportunity. I had some idea about lighting and what I envisioned the lighting to look like, but I’d never actually done it to this scale. I knew SPARK! was looking at other options in terms of lighting companies. So I did a little research on the different kinds of lights and what they do and just raised my hand and said “I can do it” and here we are.

I also donated the dragonfly that is hanging from the gallery ceiling. I got the idea of making this big sculpture a few months back while I was making a piece for another event. I thought it would be cool to make because the colors are infinite and the lines of a dragonfly are so intricate. I had no idea it would be so much work. Then I thought, “what do you do with a dragonfly that has an 8-foot wingspan?” You give it to SPARK!

Come see Jesse’s work anytime SPARK! is open to the public. Check out our calendar of events to plan your visit.

 


Saturdays @ SPARK!

Have you ever found yourself wishing you could visit SPARK! any weekend of the month? Us too! Which is why we’ve decided to extend our public hours from once a week to once a month – making it easier than ever to plan a family outing here. First timer? Read on to see exactly what Saturdays at SPARK! will look like.

Starting June 4th, SPARK! will be open to the public from 10am–4pm EVERY Saturday. Enjoy a variety of pop-up activities, instructor-led projects, and creative play on our 6,000-foot Climb, Crawl, Slide Sculpture for only $10 per person. Additional fees may apply for instructor-led projects. Ask about discounted group rates.

Saturdays at SPARK! will offer a wide variety of creative experiences for families that aren’t available anywhere else. Make butterflies from soda cans, add to a Chihuly-inspired sculpture, test your skills in the percussion area, make some noise on the musical dance floor, explore graffiti art or create a masterpiece on our Giant Light Bright.

This change in public hours also means we’ll have more weekend volunteer opportunities AND more Saturdays available to book your birthday party.

Email volunteers@sparkdallas.org if you’re interested in becoming a Saturday volunteer, events@sparkdallas.org to book your birthday party and info@sparkdallas.org if you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for our very last Family Day from 1–4pm on May 14.


Artist Spotlight: Rolando Diaz

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At the 2016 Creativity Confab on April 21, Creative Collaborator Rolando Diaz will be recognized for his efforts towards cultivating creativity in North Texas’ children. The internationally acclaimed Cuban/American artist has been given major credit for breathing life to the now thriving Cedars neighborhood but has also made a significant impact on SPARK! too. While words can’t fully express how grateful we are for Diaz, we’d like to highlight some of the work he has done for us here.

Lion Head Door Knocker Swing

For this project, Diaz was inspired by beams of natural light that were shining down on the installation space. He also drew inspiration from lavish door knockers he has seen across Europe. “It started on paper,” says Diaz. “Lions are positive, strong and fierce. They’re the king of the jungle and I thought that kids could connect with the figure of a lion.” Diaz then worked closely artists Byron Zarrabi, James Bauer and Pascale Pryor to create several mini mock-ups and later the final product. We call that, innovation! Have you ever seen another swing shaped like a lion head door knocker?

Butterfly Doors

Diaz help set the mood for the entire SPARK! space by painting a life-size butterfly mural on our front doors. His thought was that children, like butterflies, could transform into their full creative potential. “It has to do with the fact that something can go from being a worm to something beautiful like a butterfly,” he says.

Gallery Floor

His vision for the gallery floor was to have a focal point when you walk in, while also incorporating the concept of hot and cold. (Picture dozens of icicles protruding from the ceiling and a seabed full of underwater creatures on the ground.) He says the idea was to throw you into a space that didn’t make sense. “When I go into my creative process, music plays a vital role,” says Diaz. “I also go into spaces that are very beautiful such as museums, gardens and nature. All of that influences my creativity. I knew I was going for surrealism in the SPARK! space.”

Because of his outstanding work for SPARK! as well as dozens of other charitable causes, we can’t think of a more deserving person to receive this inaugural award. For even more information on Diaz, visit his website here.