SPARK! Events


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.

 


SPARK! Definition of The Creative Process

World Creativity and Innovation Week (WCIW) is right around the corner! We’re so excited that we can’t wait until the Creativity Confab on April 21 to announce our definition of the creative process. Here’s a taste of what we’ll be discussing. We identify the “Ations” of the creative process: Inspiration with Iteration and Collaboration lead to Innovation.

At SPARK! we like to use the creation of our Lion Head Door-Knocker Swing as an example of this process. Kensie---Lion-Swing

Inspiration

This is when a dream forms in your mind and your sense of wonder begins telling you what you want to create. For Rolando Diaz, the inspiration for this project came from the natural light shining down on the installation space. He also drew inspiration from lavish door knockers he saw during his travels through Europe.

Iteration

After this vision was translated to paper via sketches, it was drawn and redrawn until Rolando believed it to be a true reflection of his vision. This step can happen over and over again and allows an artist to fully develop an idea. Because of this repetition, we encourage students not to be afraid of failure.

Collaboration

Once the sketch was complete, Rolando worked with artists Byron Zarrabi, James Bauer and Pascale Pryor to create several mini metal mock-ups and later the final product.

Innovation

After returning to the “iteration” step to add additional safety features and artistic accents, the swing was complete. But without inspiration, iteration and collaboration, this truly unique and original swing could not have been its very best. This project is a reminder that all parts of the creative process are equally important and crucial when creating something one-of-a-kind.


New Toys at SPARK!

Giant Light Bright

Brace yourself for a blast from the past. We’re certain you’ll feel nostalgic when you get your hands on the bigger than life-size version of this beloved toy. While attending an IAAPA conference in Orlando, Florida, the SPARK! team decided a Giant Light Bright was a great way to engage kids in fun, creative play. With more than five colors to choose from, guests can create words and images with sidewalk chalk-sized pegs. You can even black out spaces with black-colored pegs! The Giant Light Bright is available during all public events as well as scheduled group visits.

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Web-Enabled Photo Kiosk

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words – and we believe you’ll have LOTS to say about SPARK! Check out the kiosk, strike a pose in front of the green screen and select from several SPARK! themed backdrops to get those creative juices flowing behind (and in front of) the lens. Be your own photographer and jump in front of scenes including the capsized ship and multi-colored mermaid. Throw a party or event at SPARK! and you’ll receive printing privileges for these special, hand-held memories. Customized backdrops with company logos or names are available for private events.

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SPARK! Birdhouses

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Looking for silent auction items or center pieces for your next big fundraiser? We have more than 50 birdhouses decorated by volunteers and children to fill that need!

Each wooden birdhouse was constructed by a Boy or Girl Scout working towards earning a badge, then was decorated by volunteers as part of North Texas Giving Day.

In October of last year, TexProtects used our birdhouses as center pieces during a fundraiser at the Dallas Arboretum and graciously split half the proceeds with us. As a thank you for including us, we always decorate one birdhouse for the organization that we’re partnering with.

If you’d like to own one for yourself, visit our gift shop during your next visit.

Contact Marketing and Events Coordinator Mollie Jamison at mjamison@sparkdallas.org or 214-421-7727 if interested in incorporating our birdhouses into your next event.


The Dallas Festival of Ideas

The countdown is over! It’s time for The Dallas Festival of Ideas on Saturday and this year we’re attending as participants. This completely free festival is broken up into five City Tracks. We’re joining The Educated City Track from 11:30–12pm in The Women’s Museum to talk about our favorite topic: creativity.

Executive Director Beverly Davis will break down the “ations” of the creative process and explore how Inspiration, Iteration and Collaboration lead to Innovation. (That by the way, is our definition of the creative process.) Attendees will get to use their imaginations to craft a Creativity I.D., engage in conversations about their earliest memories of the creative process, and share their ideas around the “ations” of the creative process.  Join us if you’re able.

A printable schedule of events can be found here.